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Life Story / Obituary
Strong, resilient, and hardworking are just a few of the words that describe the amazing woman that Bonnie Balk was. She lived life on her own terms and didn’t shy away from standing up for what she believed in, her independent spirit an inspiration to so many. There was no greater gift in Bonnie’s life than her family, and she was happiest when surrounded by their love. Life will never be the same without her here, but she leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.
The 1950s were an exciting time in America. With the end of WWII in the mid-forties, we were adjusting to life as a nation at peace once again. The baby boom was underway, and as a result the residential construction industry was booming as well. It was just as this decade was dawning that Loren and Myrtle (Sousley) Sawyer were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as the beauty of spring was in full bloom in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Their wait was over when the baby girl they named Bonnie Lou drew her first breath on May 4, 1950. She was joined in her family by her older half-brothers, Ed and Bill, as well as five additional siblings including Gail, Jim, Larry, Patricia and Gary.
In many ways, Bonnie was a young girl of her generation. She lived in the family home that was built by her father, and her mother worked as a nurse’s aid. Bonnie’s family was active in the local Baptist church for years. In addition to holding down her studies at Godwin Public Schools, she also worked as a soda jerk at a local pharmacy. Sadly, Bonnie’s father passed away when she was just a young girl of 14.
Bonnie’s work ethic only grew from there. She worked in several different factory jobs over the years, and she was someone who never missed a day of work. Bonnie was the sort of person who just showed up and did what she was supposed to do without questions or complaint. She ended her working days at the post office, retiring after 30 years of dedicated service.
Bonnie’s primary reason for working so hard was to provide a nice life for her children as a single mother. Anna, Angela, and Daniel were not only her reason for giving work her all, but they were also her greatest source of pride and joy. Bonnie was always there for them, including to support them in all their interests and activities. In everything she did, she always put the needs of her children before her own.
In the late nineties, Bonnie’s life was forever changed when she met the love of her life. His name was Joe Klocko, and they met at the post office where Bonnie was his supervisor. The sparks flew right from the start, but they had to wait until they were no longer on the same job to have their first date when Joe asked Bonnie out. In time, she sold her home so they could move in together. Bonnie and Joe melded their lives together for over 20 years. They loved fishing together, and Joe got her hooked on target shooting, pistols, and rifles. However, Bonnie really loved shooting the .22 single shot rifle that Joe bought for her. Their favorite place to visit was up North, taking in the casinos. Later in life, Bonnie was filled with great joy to welcome 12 grandchildren into her heart. She loved spending time with them as often as she could, and their sleepovers were memorable for all. During her down time, Bonnie enjoyed crocheting and watching television, especially any of the CSI series.
All who knew Bonnie Balk would agree that she had a personality that was all her own. She was strong, even stubborn at times, but she was also someone who had a heart of gold. Deeply devoted to loving and caring for her loved ones, Bonnie continuously put the needs of others ahead of her own. Giving and generous beyond compare, she will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved her.
BALK, Bonnie L., Walker, MI, Age 71, passed away June 12, 2021 with her loving family by her side. Bonnie was born May 4, 1950 in Grand Rapids to the late Loren and Myrtle (Sousley) Sawyer. She was also preceded in death by her granddaughters, Chantel and Kariel Lindsey; and her siblings, Ed and Bill VanStratten, Gail Connor, Jim, Larry, Gary and Patricia Sawyer. Bonnie retired from the Post Office. She loved to fish with the love of her life, Joe and spend quality time with her grandchildren. Bonnie is survived by her fiance, Joe Klocko; her children, Anna (Andre Lacy) Balk of Wyoming, Angela (David) Bigelow of Caledonia, Daniel Balk of Cutlerville; 12 grandchildren; 7 great grandchildren; best friend, Mary Ellen Vandyken;. A funeral service will be held Tuesday, June 15, 2021 at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Friends may visit with family beginning at 10 AM. Memorials may be made to American Cancer Society. To learn more of Bonnie's life story, to leave a memory or condolence please visit www.heritagelifestory.com.