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Life Story / Obituary
Laurabel Helen Gravelin was a woman who effortlessly inspired laughter. Friendly and kind, she enjoyed being with others, especially her friends and family. Hard-working and generous, Laurabel was quick to give of her time and talents in the service of others. Devoted to her family, Laurabel was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother. A friend to many, she will long be remembered and everso missed.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, 1931 beheld a power of hope that 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 a greater sense of hope than at the home of Glen and Helen (Curson) France as they welcomed their daughter Laurabel into their family on July 28, in Toledo, Ohio.
Until the age of three, Laurabel enjoyed the comforts of both of her parents. While her father worked as a bus driver or Shortline Bus Company, her mother cared for the children and home. Sadly, when Laurabel was only three years old, her mother died. In time, her father married again. Myrtle embraced Laurabel and her siblings as her own, and the family grew in love and security.
The France family moved to Grand Rapids when Laurabel was school age. There, Laurabel enjoyed many childhood pleasures including, rollerskating, going to movies, and getting her mother to buy ice cream for her and her sister, Carolyn. Laurabel loved to knit. She made anything from Barbie doll clothes tho afghans. She especially enjoyed celebrating holidays with family and long days at the beach. Upon graduating from Ottawa Hills High, Laurabel began working in accounting as a bookkeeper for L & L Jiroch and Witmark.
Laurabel had the good fortune of being introduced to Duane Gravelin by mutual friends. Instantly smitten, the pair fell in love and began setting their eyes on a future spent with one another. They married in December of 1952 at the Justice of the Peace in Grand Rapids, officially beginning their 45-year adventure. As Duane had recently been drafted and needed to return to base, the couple was unable to take a honeymoon. As Duane continued to serve the country, Laurabel lived with her parents and newly widowed sister-in-law, Corky.
After Duane safely returned home following his service, he and Laurabel lived in Grand Rapids. There they welcomed their sons Bruce and Alan. As their family grew, they moved to Marne, where they lived for the next 30 years began attending Marne United Methodist Church. Their family continued to grow as they welcomed daughter Laura and son Craig. While the children were young, Duane worked at Roadway Express and then as a Realtor for Westdale. Laurabel took a break from her accounting work to stay home and ensure her family’s good care. She relished in motherhood. Though strict at times, she was a loving and protective mom who was always there for her children. The family spent most summer weekends at the cabin they owned near Baldwin. Eventually, they sold the cabin and purchased a camper, which allowed them to travel. They enjoyed adventures to many of the National Parks and other campgrounds throughout the US.
As the children grew older, Laurabel returned to L & L Jiroch and Witmark, where she continued to work until her retirement. After the children were grown, Laurabel and Duane built another home next door to the family homestead. Not one to be idle for long, in retirement, Laurabel worked part-time Great Lakes Script until she was 80 years old.
During her leisure time, Laurabel enjoyed listening to a wide variety of music and reading. She liked to read the Reader’s Digest, romance and biographies, and anything her daughter-in-law Nancy had checked out from the library. Laurabel was an active member of Old Kids Club in Coopersville, and always enjoyed the lunches and trips she took with the group. She loved anything chocolate and couldn’t be without her Dove Chocolate Candy. A fresh Wendy’s frosty and chocolate ice cream were also favorite sweet treats. She also never turned down a chance to eat out. Whether dining at KFC, Burger King, Culver’s, or Fricano’s in Grand Haven, Laurabel enjoyed a good meal.
Without a doubt, Laurabel’s greatest joy came from being a mom and grandma. She loved babies and adored her grandchildren, Emily, Matthew, Rachael, Ryan, Eric, Michelle, Amy, Anna, Kristen, and Nick were her heart’s delight. In each of their eyes, she could clearly see the spark of her legacy as well as her greatest hopes for the future. After Duane died in 1997, her family became even more of a sanctuary for her. As her grandchildren grew and gifted her with five great-grandkids, her joy grew immeasurably. She was very much looking forward to welcoming her sixth great-grandchild.
In 2016, as Laurabel’s health began to decline and she needed more care, she moved to Edison Manor Assisted Living. In 2017 she moved to Edison Health Center, where she was provided loving and compassionate care until she died there on March 19, 2020, surrounded by family.
Though it is difficult to imagine life in the absence of Laurabel’s love and care, may we find comfort in our many wonderful memories. May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying her legacy forward. With each moment we wrap up in one of her afghans, indulge in a Dove Chocolate, travel to see the countries wonders, or curl up with a good book, we celebrate the many ways she gifted our lives. In these ways, we keep our memories and her spirit alive.
GRAVELIN – Laurabel Helen Gravelin age 88, of Grand Rapids, passed away peacefully with her family at her side on March 19, 2020. She was preceded in death by her husband, Duane; brothers, Glen France and Maynard (Eileen) France; and sister, Florine (Don) Meinhart. Laurabel is survived by her children, Bruce (Lynn) Gravelin, Alan (Catherine) Gravelin, Laura (Fred) Lindberg and Craig (Nancy) Gravelin; 10 grandchildren; 5 great-grandchildren; sister, Carolyn (Doug) Lawton; and several nieces and nephews. The family would like to extend a special thank you to the staff at Edison Christian Health Center for the loving care and compassion shown to Laurabel during her stay. A private family visitation will take place with burial in Marne Cemetery. A public memorial service will be held at a later date. Contributions in her memory may be made to Marne United Methodist Church or Edison Christian Foundation. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to read Laurabel’s life story, submit a favorite memory, photo, or to sign the guestbook.