Saturday, May 1, 2021
11:00 AM EDT
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.
Brain Injury Association of Michigan
7305 Grand River, Suite 100
Brighton, MI 48114
Eric's father helped start the Grand Rapids Chapter of the association.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Though much of his life was an uphill battle, Eric Voshol’s spirit and determination allowed him to accomplish so more in his time on this earth than anyone believed possible. May his life serve as an example of what can be accomplished by pushing forward, step by step with the support of family and friends to overcome adversities, large and small. Eric’s memory will live on in the hearts of those who were blessed to know him.
The 1960s was a decade of revolution and change in politics, music and society. We elected the first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy who defeated Richard Nixon by a margin of only 113,000 votes. Americans protested the unfair treatment of people of different races and women demanded more rights. During these emotionally charged times, people sought distraction through music, television and movies. The Twist started a new dance craze, the Flintstones entertained the younger generation and Psycho kept movie-goers on the edges of their seats. In Grand Rapids, John and Ruth (Yokom) Voshol anxiously awaited the birth of their second child. On March 12, 1960, Eric Jay joined his brother Gary in their home on Comstock Blvd. on the NE side of Grand Rapids.
The Voshol family grew to include three more children; Ryan, Janilyn and Kimberly each arriving about three years apart to complete the family. Other than the normal bickering that happens in all families, the kids all generally got along well. Eric was an active child who was blessed with boundless energy and a natural curiosity about how things worked. He spent endless hours taking things apart and sometimes, he even managed to put them back together! Eric was never lacking playmates; besides his siblings he also had a couple of close neighborhood friends to occupy his time.
As a family, the Voshols loved traveling and took many memorable trips together. Road trips to Disney, Washington DC and the mountains were just a few of their favorite destinations. Holidays were family time and most were spent at the lakeshore, either Grand Haven or Silver Lake, with all of their extended family.
Eric attended Riverside Elementary and Middle School where he burned off some of his endless energy playing on the rocket football team. Like many young boys his age, Eric had a paper route to earn a little spending money.
While in high school, Eric’s sense of curiosity never waned and enjoyed exploring new things and ideas. As a result, his favorite subject was science and that would pique his interest in and lead him to join the astronomy club.
After graduation from Creston High School, Eric attended Grand Rapids Community College for a time before enrolling at Michigan Tech in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Eric was an avid runner and with his 6’7” frame, his stride was exceptionally long!
Life would forever change for Eric during his first summer home from Michigan Tech. A truck turning on to 28th Street struck Eric as he was crossing the street. His injuries were catastrophic and he spent the next three months in a coma in the hospital. Because of his traumatic brain injury, the doctors did not hold much hope that Eric would be able to do much for himself once he came out of the coma. However, with years of rehab and physical therapy, Eric made slow and steady improvements in many areas. Miraculously, he learned to walk again, and then run. With the encouragement of friends and through his own determination, Eric proved the experts wrong! Eric went on to finish the Detroit Marathon, the Grand Rapids River Bank Run and he even participated twice in the Boston Marathon.
After leaving the local hospitals, Eric spent time in Battle Creek relearning the skills he would need to live independently. He moved back home with his parents for a short time until he felt he was ready to get an apartment on his own. For companionship, Eric owned several parakeets over the years. To keep it simple, he named each one of them Chirps. Eric cooked his own meals, but he tended to procrastinate on cleaning up afterwards! For a while, he was able to take a job at a local company that manufactured molded plastics.
For entertainment, Eric enjoyed watching science fiction movies and television shows, a fascination that carried over from his childhood. As a teenager, he saw the first Star Wars movie – several times – and he would enjoy the sequels just as much. It’s no surprise that Star Trek was also among his favorites.
Eric was able to regain his ability to communicate, but he never improved to the point where he was comfortable talking with people outside of a couple of close friends and family. He loved to go out to eat with his circle of friends or family, with Logans being one of his favorite restaurants. He would sit quietly, taking everything in and then add an occasional comment, just so you knew he was listening.
As the years passed, Eric health began to slowly deteriorate, limiting what he was able to do. It is hard to think of someone who fought so hard to regain quality of life, see it slowly slip away again. However, what we will remember about Eric is his sheer determination to prove that he could do what no one thought possible. He is no longer suffering and we trust that his restored body is allowing him to run once again.
Eric Jay Voshol, age 61 of Grand Rapids, passed away April 22, 2021. He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Ruth Voshol. Eric is survived by his brothers Gary (Twylia) Voshol and Ryan Voshol; sisters Janilyn (George) Cullins and Kimberly (Kathy) Voshol; nieces and nephews Danielle, David and Joel Voshol, Brittany (Blake) Latchford, Zachary Cullins; as well as several “aunts”, “uncles” and cousins. A graveside service will be held at Fairplains Cemetery on Saturday, May 1 at 11 AM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to the Brain Injury Association of Michigan are appreciated (7305 Grand River, Suite 100, Brighton, MI 48114). To read more about Eric’s life, to share a memory or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com