Family will visit from 1PM until the start of the service
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Paws with a Cause
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Life Story / Obituary
With a warm smile and a servant’s heart, Elliott Martin Bodbyl lived a life rich in family and faith. Both easy-going and hardworking, Elliott embraced each day as a gift and every person as a friend. He never hesitated to give of his time and talent in the excellent care of others and enjoyed using his gifts to restore things to their full glory. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Elliott embodied the principles of his faith, proving a powerful role model and inspiration. Revered by many, Elliot will long be remembered and ever so missed.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, the power of hope undulated in the hearts of many. With a natural drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, the nation continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was there more hope than in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as the Bodbyls welcomed their son Elliott into their family on May 25, 1933.
The youngest of five children, Elliott’s childhood was centered on family values and good company. The Bodbyls raised their family on Cedar St. NE, and while Elliott’s father worked in the furniture industry, his mother was a homemaker. Sadly, when Elliott was just 5-years-old, his mother died at the age of 39 from pneumonia. To ensure the good care of the family, Elliott’s sister, Marge, left school at the age of 16 to help raise her siblings and run the home.
As a youth, Elliott worked with his Uncle Harry in the furnace business and enjoyed tinkering with cars. He had a mini-bike and also built go-carts with his siblings. Elliott attended Hastings Elementary School and, later, Central High School. A month before graduating high school Elliott, with his father’s permission, enlisted in the United States Air Force at the age of 17. For the next four years, Elliott proudly served his country during the Korean War. During his service, he worked as an aircraft repair squadron and was stationed overseas and in Florida.
While home on leave in 1954, Elliott had the good fortune of meeting the love of his life, Virginia Smith, while cruising the circuit on Monroe Ave. Instantly smitten, the pair began dating and kept in touch by letter once Elliott returned to service. Several months after being discharged from the Air Force and safely returning home. Elliott and Virginia married on June 17, 1955, officially beginning their 66-year adventure together.
Once the happy couple returned from a honeymoon in Niagara Falls, they settled into an apartment Elliott’s father owned. In time, they purchased a home at 549 Cedar St, across the street from Elliott’s family home. Virginia worked as a nurse, and after working for a short time with Keeler Brass, Elliott settled into a 43-year career as a machine repairman for Imperial Metal Products.
In time, Elliott and Virginia were blessed to welcome three sons to their family. Richard, Steven, and Bob quickly became the centers of their worlds, and the couple worked side-by-side to ensure their boys the security of a loving and supportive home. Elliott particularly enjoyed sharing his love for working with his hands to repair or build things with his boys. The family explored and celebrated their faith as members of First Netherlands Reformed Church, which provided a firm foundation upon which they consciously built their daily lives. For many years, the family enjoyed camping and also had a seasonal at Sand Lake that Elliott liked to call his “poor man’s cottage.”
Elliot’s job was more than a means of providing for his family; it was his true joy and never felt like a burden. Even after retiring at the age of 65, he quickly returned to do contract work for the company. He even had a license plate made for his RV that said, “I’d rather be working!” He had a knack for transforming cars that had been totaled into well-repaired and hardy family vehicles. Like many in his generation, Elliot was resourceful and persevering. He liked the challenge of preserving the value of things and enhancing their potential and found great satisfaction in helping fix things for others.
A man who enjoyed the simple things in life, Elliot was a meat and potato man who enjoyed eating out and a bowl of butter pecan ice cream. Eating out on Friday nights was always something to look forward to, as was watching and listening to the Detroit Tigers games. A proud member of the American Legion, Elliot remained close friends with his Air Force buddy, James Counts. For many years, the longtime friends made annual trips to see one another, often in Louisville, which was halfway. As his family grew, Elliott relished spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. With legendary care and his prized tools, he hand-made wooden cradles for his great-grandchildren.
Four years ago, tragedy struck when Elliott suffered a stroke while driving. The effects of the stroke not only limited his mobility but also changed his disposition. After falling and breaking two vertebrae in April of this year, Elliott enrolled in hospice care at Edison Christian Health Center.
Clearly, it is difficult to imagine life in the absence of Elliott’s steadfast presence. May we find comfort in our treasured memories and the privilege of carrying his legacy forward. With each moment we share with our beloved, family gatherings we attend, Tigers games we cheer on, and projects we confidently take on, we celebrate the many ways Elliott gifted our lives. In this way, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired us.
Mr. Elliott Martin Bodbyl, age 87, of Grand Rapids, went to be with his Lord and Savior on May 23, 2021. He was preceded in death by his sisters, Marjorie Bodbyl and Betty (Arthur) Klaasen; and brother, John (Tillie) Bodbyl. Elliott is survived by his wife of 66 years, Virginia; sons, Richard (Joyce) Bodbyl, Steven (Darline) Bodbyl, and Robert (Leeanne) Bodbyl; grandchildren, Brooke Bodbyl, Steven (Melissa) Bodbyl, Renee Bodbyl, Natasha Bodbyl, Alexandra (Joseph Rush) Bodbyl Frank Bodbyl, Thomas (Shannon) Knoertzer, Kasey (Joseph) Bourne and Kimberlee (Jason) Lee; 11 great-grandchildren; brother, James Bodbyl; brother-in-law, Robert Smith; sister-in-law, Helen Smith-Morris; and several nieces and nephews. A Memorial Service will be held at 2 PM on Friday, May 28, 2021, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home 1833 Plainfield Ave NE. Family will receive visitors for one hour prior to the service. Contributions in his memory may be made to Paws For A Cause. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to read Elliott’s life story, submit a favorite memory, photo, or sign the guestbook online.