Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

James Stellard

February 9, 1930 - October 11, 2020
Grand Rapids, MI



Wednesday, October 14, 2020
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 453-8263
Driving Directions


Thursday, October 15, 2020
11:00 AM EDT
St. Isidore Catholic Church
628 Diamond Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 459-4731

Friends may visit with Jim's family at church beginning at 10 AM



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.

St. Isidore Catholic Church
628 Diamond Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Spectrum Health Foundation (to benefit Congenital Heart Pediatric Program)
25 Michigan Ave NE; Suite 4100
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Please be sure to designate:
In memory of Jim Stellard)


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


When reflecting on the life of James L. “Jim” Stellard, it is easy to see the enormous impact he made in the lives of so many around him. He was a hard worker in everything he did, both in the workplace and at home. Deeply devoted to his family, Jim took his role as provider to heart. There was no greater gift in his life than his family, and he was so proud to witness his family tree blossom to include numerous branches of loved ones he treasured. Deeply loved, Jim will be forever missed.

With the historic crash of the stock market in 1929, the Great Depression covered our nation and much of the world, and few American families didn’t feel the stress and strain of the time. Despite the trials around them, Albert and Helen (Orlowski) Stellard were able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their lives as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named James Leon on February 9, 1930, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was one of four as he was raised in the family home on Crescent Street on the Northeast side of Grand Rapids alongside his older brother and his two younger sisters. For the rest of his life Jim would speak of what it was like to stand in line for bread during the Great Depression. His father supported their family as a butcher while his mother focused her attention at home. As a family they were members of St. Isidore Catholic Church.

In many ways Jim was a young boy of his generation. He loved swimming; his father would drop them off to swim for the day, returning hours later to pick them up. He was also an animal lover who was said to keep every stray animal that crossed his path. Jim also loved fishing and spent much of the summer fishing with his friends. As a student he attended elementary school at their church, and he graduated from Catholic Central High School. In addition to holding down his studies Jim was very social and had lots of friends.

After high school Jim was ready for all that life had in store. He went to Aquinas College where he earned his teaching degree. Jim also worked several jobs including as a caddy, pinsetter, and at a pharmacy. Jim then enlisted in Army and was stationed in the 8th Army Headquarters in Seoul, Korea, during the days of the Korean Conflict. He received a commendation for meritorious service, and although he very proud of his service Jim didn’t talk much about his days in the service.

Upon returning home, Jim was ready for new adventures. He decided he didn’t want to teach and found work with Preferred Insurance Company. It was a fateful move as it was there that he met the woman of his dreams. Her name was Germaine “Gerry” Gressler, and although he was more than smitten with her Jim had to keep their sparks hidden as dating was prohibited in the office. Their first date was to see the movie Little Abner, and their love grew from there. As soon as Gerry got a job at another office, she was proud to wear a ring. The sweethearts were married on October 1, 1960, at St. James Catholic Church. Because they had already purchased a house on Spring Street, their honeymoon to Northern Michigan was carefully budgeted for. Their home was where Jim and Gerry lived throughout their entire married life.

Together Jim and Gerry were blessed with two daughters, Jamie and Jill. Jim loved spoiling his girls, and although he disciplined them when needed they admit that they never went without. Jim was the one to help them with their homework, and on the weekends he would fill the cars with gas and then line them up in order of departure for the next morning. Jim handled everything around the house perfectly, and he did it all with patience. He taught his girls to swim, and he later taught the grandkids to swim in the pool. His youngest student was just two-and-a-half. The pool was a source of so many favorite family memories from the moment Jim put it in. Prior to having the pool, their family traveled a bit more including to stay at a cottage for a couple of weeks each summer. Jim gave his daughters the wedding of their dreams, but in all honesty it was hard for him to release his girls to someone else as he just wanted to continue providing for them.

Although his family always came first, Jim did enjoy a rewarding career. He eventually started working for Hastings Mutual, which is where he spent the bulk of his career. Keeping in line with his frugal nature, Jim even managed to carpool to work every day. He had an amazing work ethic and never missed a day of work. Jim started as an agent, but in time he got into management. He and Germaine enjoyed several trips to the various conventions over the years. Jim got home around the same time for dinner, and Gerry made sure his meat and potato meal was ready for the family. Jim loved just about anything, but most things were even better as leftovers. Someone who liked things nice, he was quite meticulous in puttering around outside after dinner many nights. Their home was always the gathering place for family traditions including for the Christmas holiday.

Jim was always someone who preferred to be busy. He and Gerry were a social couple who also loved to dance, especially the polka. They were active members of their church with Jim being everything from an altar boy while growing up to being an usher for 50 years and everything in-between. He was also a member of Diamond Avenue Hall, Knights of Columbus, and treasurer of the St. Vincent De Paul Society. During their retirement years, Jim and his wife traveled the world including trips to warm places in January. He always had a frugal side and didn’t shy away from clipping coupons. About three years ago Jim was forced to slow down as his health began to deteriorate and his mind clouded with Alzheimer’s disease. His family was devoted to caring for him in his longtime home.

With unending devotion to his family and so many in his community, James “Jim” Stellard was a blessing to so many. He was a man of his word who believed in living out the faith he held dear. A family man through and through, it was no secret that Jim was married to the love of his life. He leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that will be forever cherished.

James L. “Jim” Stellard, a veteran of the Korean Conflict, passed away peacefully at home on October 11, 2020 at the age of 90. He was preceded in death by his parents Albert and Helen Stellard; brother Robert; sisters Joan Kelly and Patricia Suttorp; and baby brother, Robert Albert.

He will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 60 years, Germaine; his daughters Jamie (John) VanderLaan and Jill (Jerald) Chatman; grandchildren Sarah (Angela), James (Arianna), Mary (Brian), Brandon (Nicole) and Tyler (Jayda); great-grandchildren Braylen, Lillian, Madeline and Ryder; as well as several nieces and nephews.

Jim served in the insurance industry for 40 years, retiring from Hastings Mutual Insurance Company as Assistant Vice President in personal lines. He enjoyed working in his garden, his many trips with his wife, Germaine, and spending time and spoiling his daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Friends are invited to visit with Jim’s family on Wednesday from 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. (limits will be placed on the number of people that may visit at one time). Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, October 15, at 11 AM at St. Isidore Catholic Church, 628 Diamond Ave NE where friends are invited to visit with his family from 10 AM until the service. For those who wish, memorial contributions to either St. Isidore Catholic Church or Spectrum Health Foundation (to benefit the Congenital Heart Pediatric Program: in memory of Jim Stellard) are appreciated. To read more about Jim’s life, to share memory or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com