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Life Story / Obituary
Loving, generous, and kind, Jean Ann Radford lived a life rich in family and friends. With a heart that knew no bounds, Jean was always quick to volunteer her time and talents in service to others. Jean cherished each moment she was given, and each person she met as a gift. In so doing, she proved a powerful role model for all who were blessed to know her. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, Jean was treasured by many and will long be remembered by those she loved.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, 1935 gave birth to many celebrated firsts. While reeling in the heartache of the times, Americans found much hope in Amelia Earhart’s first solo Pacific flight, the game of Monopoly, the first Orange Bowl, first Pacific Airmail delivery, and the first Technicolor film; Mickey Mouse. Nowhere was there more hope than in Wyandotte, Michigan as James Crutcher and Dorothy (Morgan) Crutcher welcomed their daughter Jean into their family on April 10.
The second oldest of the Crutchers’ four children, Jean enjoyed a childhood firmly rooted in faith and family. Along with her parents and three brothers, Thomas, Ken, and Gary, Jean attended Ford Baptist Church, where she participated in the church choir. Both her love of people and her love of music were evident from a very early age. Gregarious by nature, Jean welcomed opportunities to meet new people, share time with friends and family, and explore the music she loved.
Jean attended Roosevelt High, where she was very social and popular. A quintessential 50’s girl, she was active in drama and other social clubs at school. She never passed on an opportunity to listen to her favorite songs and joyfully joined her voice in her school and church choirs.
While participating in one of the many youth activities at church, Jean was blessed to meet the love of her life,
Harold Radford. For two years the young couple dated and planned for a future spent in one another’s good company. On July 2, 1955, they married at Bethel Baptist Church in Southgate, surrounded by family and friends. It was a brand new building, and they were the first wedding there. Eventually, four generations of their family were married at the church.
For a honeymoon, the newlyweds packed a lunch and drove to Lake Michigan. After enjoying their picnic and the wonders of the lake, they returned home. Harold worked for a wholesale electrical company during the day and an electrical contractor at night, while Jean worked at Montgomery Ward. In 1956 they were blessed to welcome the first of their children, son Ron, into their lives. Their daughter Diane followed in 1960.
Ron and Diane were the centers of Jean and Harold’s world, and Jean relished in being a stay-at-home mother. As times were tight, and the couple could not afford a baby sitter, the kids were always with her or with Harold. Ron would even get to go to work with Harold sometimes. Jean proudly created a loving home, rich in tradition and family values. She poured her love into home-cooked meals. An excellent cook, Jean often spent the day in the kitchen, creating huge amounts of food that the family ate together. Sunday dinners always centered around two different types of meat and 10 pounds of potatoes, and her famous Grandma chicken and noodles were unrivaled. Meals often took hours to finish as the family always ate together, and no one was allowed to leave the table until their plate was clean. With most of the extended family living in the area, there were often guests at the table too which ensured lots of lively conversation and many treasured memories.
When Ron was in 2nd grade, Jean took a job as the school’s librarian to be at school to keep an eye on Ron and to help him with his studies. With signature passion, she soon turned the library from an after-thought of education to the central hub of the new school. Literally, the library “media center” was the heart of the new school.
From an early age, the kids were taught how to pay bills and save money for vacations. Jean was easily contented with what she had and was never flashy. When she and Harod were engaged, rather than buying a diamond, they bought new tires for the car instead. It wasn’t till 45 years later that Harold bought her a diamond. Jean respected the value of things and taught her kids by example. Fiscally creative and proudly frugal, she would freeze leftovers in Tupperware and at the end of the week, turn them into a fantastic meal. With signature phrases such as, “do you know how many hours you have to work to buy that?” and “you are taking away from the vacation fund,” when a light was left on, the kids learned these values and skills as well. As a result of Jean’s careful planning, over the years, the family enjoyed many wonderful vacations, including trips to Gatlinburg, the Upper Penninsula, and Florida.
The family lived in a very close neighborhood where the mothers gathered for coffee and mutual support, while the fathers went off to work. With shared family values and a love for their community, the moms kept a watchful eye on one another’s kids and never hesitated to reign them in with the discipline they might require.
Naturally positive, Jean effortlessly found the best in any situation or person. Her ability to find beauty in anything radiated out to others where ever she was. Her love of music quite literally filled her home. She liked her music loud and with great enthusiasm, used her home’s intercom system to pipe her favorite tunes throughout the house. An early riser who liked to get up and get going, she would joyfully call the kids’ bedrooms from the kitchen intercom to wake up and greet the day. Jean also loved quilting. Incredibly creative, she made many elaborate quilts and shared her love of the process with others. While the kids were at school, she regularly met with other quilters at the Wyandotte Historical Society to go over new ideas and work together on various projects. She also wrote many articles about quilting.
As her children grew into adulthood and began families of their own, Jean’s joy grew beyond measure. She was a wonderful grandmother who adored her grandchildren. She made a tradition of having each child to her home one at a time to focus solely on them. For her grandchildren who lived on the west side of the state, she would have them stay with her for two weeks during the summer to catch up and make treasured memories. Regardless of the distance, Jean never missed her grandkids’ special events, even if it meant driving across the state to see them sing a single song. Jean was the glue in her family, and in her eyes, each of her loved ones easily saw their worth and the depth of Jean’s love. She was their greatest fan who unwaveringly supported each of their endeavors.
In 2004, Jean and Harold moved to Grand Rapids, where their daughter and her husband had added an in-laws’ suite to their house. In 2015, June was diagnosed with a tumor on her optic nerve. Though most of it was surgically removed, she still had a floating spot in her sight that affected her balance and walking. In 2018, she diagnosed with dementia after suffering from symptoms for quite some time. Regardless of the challenges she faced at the end of her life, Jean continued to meet each day with love and gratitude. On November 5, Jean died in the comforts of her family and home.
Without a doubt, every moment was considerably better when in the company of Jean. Her kindness and faith made good days great and bad days better. And while it is difficult to imagine life in the absence of her bright and beautiful light, we will find comfort in knowing that the best of her legacy lives on in our own lives. With each song we sing out, new food we enthusiastically try, quilt we curl up in, and moments we gather around the table or freely offer our time and talents, we celebrate the many ways Jean gifted our lives. In so doing, we keep her spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired us.
RADFORD – Mrs. Jean Ann Radford age 84, of Grand Rapids and formerly of Wyandotte, passed away on November 5, 2019. She is survived by her husband of 64 years, Harold; children, Ron (Liz) Radford and Diane (David) Dusendang; grandchildren, Barbie (James Rochowiak) Radford, Beth Radford, Ronnie Radford, Tricia Dusendang, Amy (David) Whitney, Meredith (Jacob) Vasquez, and Lauren (Kevin) Charbonneau; great-grandchildren, Ciara, Alyssa (Robert), Mackenzy (Hunter), Alexia, Brenden, Reed, Aaron, Penelope and Sylvester; and great-great-grandchild, Jaklyn.
The Funeral service will be held at 2 PM on Saturday, November 9, 2019 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Family and friends will gather to share memories from noon until the time of the service. Contributions in her memory may be made to Spectrum Health Hospice in her memory. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to read her life story, submit a favorite memory, photo, or sign the guestbook online.