Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Floyd Van Allsburg, it is easy to see that his selfless spirit accompanied everything he did. He was the sort of person who believed in doing things the right way, which meant that at times things certainly took a while to get done. Always willing to use his time and talents to help others, Floyd was the sort of person others knew they could count on. Deeply devoted to his family, it was no secret that he spent his best years alongside the love of his life. Although Floyd will be deeply missed, he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
The 1920s were an exciting time in America. Cars were more affordable for the average American thanks to the wide implementation of the assembly line, and because of the adventurous spirits of Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart the world of flight was forever transformed. It was amidst this exciting time that Floyd Willis and Audra (Garter) Van Allsburg were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Floyd W. on April 8, 1925, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The youngest of four, he was raised on the Northwest side of Grand Rapids alongside his siblings, Louise, Warren, and Vera. Some of Floyd’s best memories were made after they purchased the farmhouse and land on Butterworth Street, SW, when he was a teen. He enjoyed working with the family animals, particularly the draught horses, and he also loved being outdoors. Floyd attended local schools including Union High School.
After our nation entered WWII on December 7, 1941, Floyd became one of the honorable young men who answered the call to serve by enlisting in the Navy. After some training on teletype repairs in Washington D.C., Floyd transferred to Pearl Harbor where he spent the rest of his time in the military. Both he and his brother sent their money back home to help the family on the farm.
It was shortly after returning stateside when WWII ended that Floyd’s life was forever changed as he met the love of his life. Her name was Shirley Mansfield, and they met through a friend. It was a case of opposites attract as Floyd was more laid back and mellow while she was quite feisty. They complimented one another beautifully, however, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Floyd and Shirley were married on August 13, 1949, at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church. They were an amazing couple, and their marriage was one to be admired. Together they welcomed six children including Amy, Floyd, Susan, Judy, Lori, and Beth into their hearts and home. Although they initially settled into a home on Paris Street, they soon moved to Calgary Street. When his parents were ready to sell the farm, Floyd and Shirley welcomed the opportunity to purchase it from his them so they could raise their children there from 1961 onward. It was fairly common to hear Shirley say, “Oh, Floyd,” to which he responded, “Just relax.” He remained close with his siblings, especially because his brother lived in a different house on the original farm while his sister lived just down the street. Floyd loved camping, and over the years they took the kids camping all over the state. One of his favorite places was Mackinaw City. They started out in a tent and later graduated to a popup camper. On these trips it was tradition that Floyd always started his campfire with his trusty torch. Many of their favorite family memories were made on their camping trips. They did some other traveling, too, including trips to Florida, New York, and Cedar Point. No matter where they went, it wasn’t about the destination but about the family time together. Floyd was an amazing father who was an active part of his children’s lives. They knew they could talk to him about anything, which didn’t work out the best for him at times. As his children grew older, Floyd continued to be there for them, and he was forever concerned about his girls.
Throughout his life Floyd was known for his strong work ethic and attention to detail. After returning home from WWII, he worked a variety of jobs at Consumers Energy, Kelvinator and Joppies, but he finally found a career to settle into when he started trade school for HVAC. Floyd spent his career working for smaller companies, primarily installing and repairing residential heat and air conditioning equipment. This was a great fit for him as he loved working with his hands and also had the gift of gab so he could easily make conversation with the homeowners on the job. Floyd was talented with sheet metal and very meticulous in all he did, which included his job. Determined to provide for his family, he worked hard, which meant that he was often on call for emergencies and regularly put in extra hours.
Around the home, Floyd was no different as he remained busy there, too. He could fix about anything, and it was done well since he was meticulous in everything and did it all his way. In addition to his own projects, Floyd was quick to help others with their projects as well, particularly when it came to HVAC. He enjoyed woodworking and would correct the slightest flaw until it was perfect. Although he retired in his mid-seventies, he continued helping others with projects. Floyd also just loved to walk around at Lowe’s. Even though he often had projects going, he made time for fun, too. Floyd and Shirley had a great group of friends who regularly got together to play cards. He enjoyed playing cribbage and was said to have his own “creative counting!” In the neighborhood, Floyd was known as the instigator who was famous for starting water fights. He once got stuck while climbing through the kitchen window! Even when he was relaxing, Floyd kept busy as he enjoyed reading, especially history and the Horatio Hornblower series in addition to reading about the old locomotives. Floyd was interested in old farm tractors and enjoyed visiting museums. He liked watching westerns on television, too. It has been said that Floyd had a sweet tooth and loved his donuts in addition to his wife’s lemon meringue pie.
In February of 2016, Floyd was deeply saddened with the death of his beloved wife. Accompanied by his three daughters, he was able to remain in his home. Floyd was sharp and active into his nineties as he still mowed his own lawn and shoveled the driveway. About a year ago, his health began rapidly deteriorating so he moved to Porter Hills to get the extra care he needed.
All who knew Floyd W. Van Allsburg would agree that he was one of the nicest and most generous people one could ever meet. He never had an unkind word to say about anyone and was quick to help in any way he could. Floyd’s devotion to his family was steadfast, and the memories they made together will forever be a priceless treasure in the hearts of the ones he held dear.
Floyd W. Van Allsburg, age 94 of Grand Rapids, passed away January 4, 2020. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Shirley; daughter, Amy Van Allsburg; and son, Floyd Van Allsburg. He is survived by his daughters Susan DeRuiter, Judy, Lori and Beth Van Allsburg; 2 grandchildren and nieces and nephews. Friends are invited to visit with his family on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 from 5-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. To read more about Floyd’s life, to share a memory or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com