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Covenant Living of the Great Lakes
2510 Lake Michigan Dr NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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Life Story / Obituary
WOOD, LEWIS & VIRGINIA of Grand Rapids Michigan passed away less than two months apart. Harry Lewis Wood (95) went to be with the Lord on January 22, 2022 and Virginia Elizabeth Wood (93) joined him in heaven on MARCH 6, 2022--their 74th Wedding Anniversary!
Lewis was born on September 13, 1926 in Vestaburg, MI and graduated from Vestaburg High School in June of 1943. Lewis enlisted in the army on August 4, 1944 and began his service on March 1, 1945. He attended the Aerial Gunnery School and was discharged from the Air Force with a Victory Medal and Good Conduct Medal on September 22, 1946.
Virginia Elizabeth Devereaux was born on April 28, 1928 in Nashville MI and graduated from Sexton High School (Lansing, MI) in June of 1943.
Lewis and Virginia eloped. They were married on MARCH 6, 1948 in Angola, Indiana. Virginia had been saved at age 12. She tried to get Lewis to pray with her but he didn't really understand. At random they chose a church from the ads in the Lansing State Journal. Lewis was saved--gave his heart to the Lord and became a Christian on MARCH 6, 1949. They became members of South Baptist Church on August 7, 1949 under Pastor Malcolm Cronk and dedicated their lives to full-time Christian Service. There was a time of adjustment to the application of God's Word, such as sailing their collection of Louie Armstrong records off the bridge into the river and a ceremony of throwing Lewis' pipes into Lake Michigan. In preparation for a life of Christian Service they attended Bible School at Bob Jones (1949/50) and Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music (1950/51), graduating May 30, 1952, Lewis with a diploma in the Missionary course and Virginia in the Music course. They served on the staff at GRSBM through 1953. Lewis was Ordained to the work of the Gospel Ministry on February 24, 1954. They felt the Lord calling them to serve as missionaries in South Africa and on MARCH 6, 1954, they boarded a freighter bound for Durban.
After the three week trip on a very small ship over very rough seas, they traveled by narrow gauge train down the beautiful coast of the Indian Ocean to Port Shepstone. From the crowded train they saw monkeys in the trees, strange fruits and an unbelievable profusion of flowers. They saw magnificent homes of rich white people, thatch-roofed mud huts belonging to the Zulus, and Indian temples, all on the lush hillsides. They drank gallons of tea and learned to love hot Indian curry. Over the years Lewis and Virginia were involved in church planting and living in an isolated Zulu homeland, teaching in Zulu in a large Bible College, publishing and distributing a prominent Christian magazine while living in Johannesburg, and for several years, Lewis served as the Field Director over the entire Southern Field of the Africa Evangelical Fellowship (AEF). This included much traveling, encouraging other missionaries, business administration and acting as a liaison between the local church and the missionaries. Their ministry touched hearts from the beggar on the street to the Prince of the Zulu nation. According to the Zulus, their language is the language of heaven and Lewis could speak Zulu fluently. Virginia taught women how to make their own Sunday School curriculum because nothing was available that kids living in a mud hut could relate to. She also rewrote hymns and choruses for the choirs she directed to compliment the unique and beautiful tones of the African voices.
In 1979 Lewis and Virginia left the country that had become their home to care for Virginia's parents who were unable to care for themselves. They returned home to Lansing and South Baptist Church where the people had loved, prayed for and supported them through their 25 years in South Africa.
Lewis worked full time at South Baptist from 1979 until 1996 when he retired, then continued to work part time for the church through 2000 as an Associate Pastor overseeing Administration, the "Super Seniors", Missions and more. Virginia was by his side whenever needed, helping with the "Super Seniors", Sunday School classes and Women's Ministries. They went on and led several short term mission trips including trips to Ecuador, France and Mexico. Lewis was honored to preside over funerals, because he felt it was a time when people were open to hearing the Gospel message he loved to preach. He was on call with Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes in Lansing and East Lansing after he retired where he filled in as needed from driving the vehicles to presiding over the service.
Virginia was a lifelong teacher, musician, and writer. As an author, her short stories were published in works like the novel "The teacher who ate her pet" and "Good Old Days" magazine. She also wrote stories for her grandchildren that will be forever cherished. As a teacher and musician, her work touched many people, and she passed down her love of music to her grandchildren by teaching them how to play the piano and organ.
They began looking for the best place to retire and discovered Covenant Village of the Great Lakes being built in Grand Rapids. They visited the building site and followed the progress wearing hard hats. In May 2004 they made the move to their new home. It wasn't long before Lewis was voted on to the Residential Council. He began working as a night time security guard, checking the doors, taking the trash to the dumpster, delivering packages and newspapers and taking care of the night time emergency calls. He was also on call to drive other residents to doctors appointments, etc. He retired from those jobs in June of 2015. He attended Bible Studies and Book Studies, he took part in hilarious plays to entertain the residents and loved fixing things in the woodworking shop. Virginia joined the quilters who made magnificent quilts that were auctioned to raise money for the Benevolent Fund. Virginia became one of the resident organists, playing Wednesday and Sunday services. Lewis would pick the songs that illustrated the Chaplain's message and made copies for her. Virginia had a passion for writing memoirs and taught Memoir Writing Classes called "Life Stories" until they were quarantined due to COVID 19 in 2020.
They were preceded in death by Lewis' parents, Myron Wood and Jennie (Bollinger) Wood and his brothers, Mylon, James, George, Don, Rex and Art; and by Virginia's parents, Ezra Ennis Devereaux and Lois Elizabeth (Stanton) Devereaux and her sister, Phyllis (Devereaux) West; their son, Douglas James in July of 1992 and son-in-law, David Landes Hunsberger in 2017.
They are survived by Lewis' sisters, Velita St. Peter, Joyce (Stauffer) Bussema and Betty Maxwell and many nieces and nephews that loved and cared for them; daughter Beverly Lois (Wood) Hunsberger; grandchildren, Lisa (Zach) Shepperson Caldwell and Danielle Shepperson; great grandchildren, Destiny Shepperson and Matthew Caldwell; great great grandchildren, KhyRee and Kaiden.
Their "family" included the missionaries they served with over 25 years in Africa, their South Church family, their Covenant Village family including the staff at Covenant Living of the Great Lakes Assisted Living facility that loved and cared for them through their last seven months of life.
They donated their bodies to science through the MSU Willed Body program. It was their desire not to have a memorial service, but a celebration of life will be held by their family at Covenant Living of the Great Lakes on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at 3:30 PM officiated by Chaplain Brian Kyle and Rev. Terra Penninga.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Faith Hospice (faithhospicecare.org/donate or call (616-235-5125). The staff were amazing, going over and above to bring joy and comfort to Virginia (and Lewis) over the eight months she was under their care. Her doctor, nurse, social workers, aids and the volunteers were wonderful!
Their ashes will be interred beside those of Virginia’s parents, sister and their son in the Pine Grove Cemetery on Tyler Road in Ithaca, Michigan.
The memories Lewis and Virginia made over 95 years and the legacy they passed down through 5 generations will always be cherished. They loved each other, their family and all their relatives and friends. They lived to love, serve and spread the Gospel to everyone their lives touched. They each had a unique sense of humor, loved traveling throughout the world and told the stories in the memoirs they wrote! We will miss them, and rejoice that they are no longer suffering, but look forward to seeing them again one day "somewhere beyond the blue" as Lewis always said. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)