Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Cynthia "Thia" Oracz

August 5, 1951 - November 22, 2020
Grand Rapids, MI


Graveside Service

Monday, November 30, 2020
11:00 AM EST
Fairplains Cemetery
2056 Diamond Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society - Michigan Chapter
1471 East 12 Mile Road
Madison Heights, MI 48071
(248) 582-2900
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Cynthia Oracz was a very caring woman who modeled a lifetime of hard work and sincere compassion for others that was founded in her faith in Jesus Christ. She was a loving and supportive wife, mother, and deeply cared for others. Gone too soon, Cynthia’s genuine kindness and sincere friendship will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.

The 1950s were known as the decade of the baby boomer and the modern American family. Television was growing in its popularity and families joined together in living rooms across the nation to catch the latest westerns or anything featuring Lucille Ball. Proud parents, John and Rose Van Dam Jr. welcomed home their newborn daughter, Cynthia, on August 5, 1951, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Later joined by her younger siblings, John, Julie, and James, her birth brought joy and much happiness to their family.

Growing up in a close-knit neighborhood on the northeast side of town, Cynthia lived a typical childhood of the times. Her father worked as a captain for the Grand Rapids Fire Department and her mother was a homemaker. Although they were hard working, the family often scraped by and everyone pitched in to make ends meet. After her years studying at Coit Elementary, Cynthia landed on the campus of Central High School and graduated with the Class of 1969. Never one to remain idle, while attending school at the age of 16, Cynthia got a job working at the Majestic movie theatre downtown, and after work would walk over to Coffee Ranch for coffee and cashews. During that time, she would also, out of love for her family, go shopping at Harvest Health and other grocery stores, to make healthy delicious dinners for her family. After graduating, she went on to college to study anthropology at Grand Valley State University.

After she left college, she had few jobs. One of which was at a tech company that sold geometric dimensioning and tolerancing programs and courses to various industries. She was given the account for the steel industry, that was dying at that time. To which she revitalized the account, through her knowledge of geometric tolerancing, and her competency of understanding what the client’s needs were. This being the case, in a male centric business, senior sales staff wanted to take the account back over.

Upon this, she moved back into working in restaurants, which she had done while attending college. She started working at the Golden Dragon Chinese restaurant on 28th street. At that time during the late 70’s and early 80’s, jobs were hard to come by, because of the severe recession (worse than the 2008-9 recession). In 1982 as the economy improved, the C.A. Muer corporation opened a premier restaurant called Charlie’s Crab. Cynthia applied for one of the roughly 140 positions available, to which over 4,500 applied. They were holding group interviews, and Cynthia’s group was held in the women’s bathroom. They ask her why she should have the job, and she replied, “You have the perfect setting here, you need the perfect diamond”.

She became a server at the popular Charlie’s Crab restaurant on the Grand River. It was here that she met Henry Oracz Jr. who would change the course of her life forever! Henry was drawn to her beauty, and her warm beautiful smile. How she lit up a room, and how kind she was to others. It was love at first sight for both of them, and they knew that God had brought them together. Within two weeks of their first date Henry asked Cynthia to marry him. Henry left for New Orleans to try and secure a future for them and returned where Cynthia surprised him with a marriage license that was valid only for the next fourteen days! Eager to start their life together, they joined in marriage on August 21, 1985 at Zion Lutheran in a small ceremony. They moved down to New Orleans and Cynthia became pregnant, but oil economy went bust, and the business Henry started failed so they moved back to Grand Rapids. Their son, Henry III was born September 29, 1986 and both Henry and Cynthia were proud parents.

Cynthia held a vast array of many special interests over the years. She enjoyed painting, knitting, and gardening and no one could beat her cooking in the kitchen! Though her husband was a professional chef in the early years, even he would say her food was far better than his. She just enjoyed preparing good meals for her boys. She took her talents to Pietro’s, where she was a manager in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Then after that she moved to Calvin College, where she ran all the food services retail operations. There she won several national awards, and her operations became the premier account, where other accounts would come to learn how to improve their operations. Cynthia would often enjoy reading a good book and her home contained a large library of various subjects. Especially books about Jesus Christ. She loved things such science and nature, and enjoyed learning history, even art and architecture interested her among many other things. Cynthia enjoyed music in her early days and loved attending live performances. In addition to her love of music, reading, and cooking, Cynthia gave so much of her time and resources to her faith community. A firm believer, she was a born-again Christian after getting baptized at Resurrection Life Church. She was committed to the Lord and spreading his gospel. She unabashedly witnessed to people from all walks of life. Whatever she put her mind to doing, she always gave it her very best.

Sadly, Cynthia developed health issues in recent years. She began experiencing back pain and through therapy a lump was found. She later developed a growth on her jaw and in July she was formally diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, an aggressive form of cancer that would require intensive treatments. Along with the support of her family and team of doctors, she pursued a trial at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Unfortunately, the treatment began to affect her heart function and she passed away. Described as selfless as well as strong, Cynthia will be deeply missed by her loving family and many close friends. May they be comforted in knowing they were loved beyond measure and may her memories live on in their hearts forevermore.

Cynthia Oracz age 69, of Grand Rapids, MI, passed away on November 22, 2020 in Ann Arbor, MI. She was preceded in death by her parents, John and Rose VanDam Jr.; in-laws, Henry Sr. and Violet Lucy Oracz; brother, Tommy and sister, Karen. Cynthia is survived by her husband of 35 years, Henry Oracz Jr.; son, Henry (Nicole) Oracz III; siblings, John (Sharon L.) VanDam III, Julie Denhof, and James (Toni) VanDam; and nieces and nephews, Angel (Attila) Bokor, Maree Denhof, Jacob Denhof, Rachelle Denhof and Bryan Denhof. Sister-in-law Pamela Oracz (Jeff Noordyk); nieces and nephews, Steve Whalen II, Broderick (Jamie) Whalen, Matthew (Niki) Whalen, Denielle (Dominique) Bryson. Due to COVID restrictions, a private family service will take place at Fairplains Cemetery in Grand Rapids. Contributions in her memory may be made to the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society