Life Story / Obituary
With a vibrant personality, warm smile, and welcoming heart, Michael DeWitt lived a life rich in family, friends, and adventure. Mike welcomed each day as a gift and every person as a friend. He naturally enjoyed life and had a way of putting others at ease. He never hesitated to give of his time and talents in service of others, always looking for meaningful ways to contribute to his community. Mike led with his heart and, in so doing, proved a powerful role model. With his beloved at his side, Mike created a beautiful family he was so deeply proud of. Revered and cherished by many, Mike will long be remembered and so dearly missed.
1947 proved a year of continued celebration of the nation's momentous victory in World War II. America's heroes eagerly returned home to a country filled with renewed spirit and hope, ready to claim their share of the American Dream, which they fought so proudly for overseas. As American prosperity grew like no time in our history, hope sprang eternal, and the Greatest Generation soon proliferated, creating the age of the Baby Boomers. The cause for celebration grew even greater for Peter and Mary DeWitt as they welcomed their son Mike on July 10 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Mike's parents purchased a home on Charlotte NW in Grand Rapids and, in eight years, welcomed their children, Peter, Michael, Kathlen Timothy, and William, into their hearts and home. In 1961, they moved to a home they built on the land of another family business, the DeWitt Pony Farm on Lake Michigan Dr. NW.
Mike and his siblings created and enjoyed close bonds throughout their entire lives; he was especially close with his sister Kathy. As a young boy, he loved the pony farm next door, where he and his siblings spent all their time playing when not doing chores at the farm. Mike liked to tease and prank his siblings. Once, he climbed a tree and dropped items upon his sister Kathy. The family enjoyed vacations to Houghton Lake and Grey Goose Lodge and rich traditions like Sunday dinners, gathering around the television for Friday Night Fights, and enjoying the delicious bounty from Mary's lovingly tended garden.
The family attended church at Holy Spirit Catholic Parish, and Mike completed his elementary schooling at Holy Spirit Catholic School. At school, he was known to be a rascal. After a nun corrected a misspelling on his school work, he responded by rewriting the assignment, intentionally misspelling every word! As a teen, he attended West Catholic High School, but he was not particularly engaged in school activities as all of his time was spent working at The Pony Farm. Upon graduating in 1965, Mike enjoyed celebrating with his family and friends. His father started the tradition of hosting a huge graduation party for each child. The party was open to anyone and everyone. It had live music bands, extravagant food and drink, and other entertainment.
In 1966, Mike joined the Army and served with the 101st Airborne Division during the Vietnam Conflict. Upon his safe return home, he returned to the family business, eventually following in his father's footsteps as president of DeWitt Barrels, Inc., a company that produced and refurbished large barrels for shipping products. While out "cruising" in his car on Alpine Avenue, a girl in a sharp Ford convertible caught his eye. A few days later, while at Westgate Bowling Alley, the same girl took note of Mike, who was very charming and popular. Taking the first step, she introduced herself. Carol Sue Herman was 23, and Mike was 21; the pair instantly hit it off and were soon dating. Carol worked at Holland American Wafer Company, and Mike always offered to make the barrel deliveries from his business to her work so he could visit with her. After a short courtship, the couple married at Carol's family's church, Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Grand Rapids, on September 13, 1969.
After enjoying their honeymoon at Pocono Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania, the couple began their marriage in a house they purchased just before their wedding at 1915 Burlingame Ave SW in Wyoming, Michigan. The following year, the first of their three children, Michelle, was born. Julie arrived the following year, and John completed the family in 1973. The street they lived on was too busy with traffic for small children, so the family moved across town. Mike loved making breakfast for his family. He pulled out all the stops and made many breakfast entrees for one breakfast meal!
Very social and active, Mike participated in church and his children's school by serving on various boards and committees. He led fundraising projects and volunteered any chance he could, including participating in the neighborhood and lake associations and The Republican Party. The family traveled extensively and particularly enjoyed vacations to Disney, Mexico, Washington D.C., and Canada.
Mike had many varied interests; he loved trying new experiences. He and Carol enjoyed bowling and participated in many leagues over their lifetimes. Mike enjoyed scuba diving, traveling, fishing, card games, movie theaters, and loved classic pop songs from the 50s and 60s. He was an avid reader who preferred science fiction and keeping up on the news of the day. He liked the Star Trek movies and was quite interested in politics.
As empty nesters, Mike and Carol traveled extensively. They made epic trips to Italy, Turkey, Netherlands, traveled to Las Vegas many times, and enjoyed many cruises. Closer to home, Mike loved to eat out with friends and family. His favorite was Finger's Restaurant on Plainfield Avenue. Long after the children were gone, Mike and Carol built their forever dream home, returning to Mike's beloved West Side. They also enjoyed sharing time with their family at their cottage at Muskellunge Lake in Trufant, Michigan. For their 50th wedding anniversary, Mike secretly searched out and found a car identical to the car Carol was driving when he first laid eyes on her, a 1966 Ford Fairlane Convertible. In a grand romantic gesture, he had the car restored to perfection and gave it to Carol as a gift. Without a doubt, one of the greatest gifts Mike gave his family was the beautiful example of the love and commitment he shared with Carol.
Though the world feels less certain in the absence of Mike's steadfast companionship, may we find comfort in our many treasured memories. May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying his legacy forward. In each moment we embrace life as an adventure, explore the day and the world with our beloved, volunteer to serve others, and enjoy the simple pleasure of a good meal with loved ones, we celebrate the countless ways Mike showed us how to live wholehearted lives. In this way, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he inspired each of us.
Michael John DeWitt, age 75, of Grand Rapids, passed away on Sunday, June 4, 2023, while in the comfort of his home and in the company of his family. Mike was born in Grand Rapids in the summer of 1947 to the late Peter and Mary DeWitt. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Carol S. DeWitt [Herman], and their three children, Michelle DeWitt, Julie and Doug Lemmen, and John and June DeWitt; grandchildren, Debra, Chelsea, Jackson, Brittney, Ashley, Amber and Michael; great-grandchildren, Theodore, Michael, Zoey, Zane, and Evelyn. Also surviving are his siblings, Peter and Galene DeWitt, Kathy Banasiak, Tim and Margo DeWitt, and Bill and Sonya DeWitt. Mike had proudly served in the United States Army with the 101st Airborne during the Vietnam Conflict. According to Mike's wishes, cremation has taken place. The Funeral Mass, with Military Honors, will be celebrated on Saturday, June 10, 2023, at 11: 00 AM at Blessed Sacrament Parish (2275 Diamond Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49505). The family will receive visitors for one hour prior to Mass beginning at 10:00 AM. Interment will be in Rosedale Memorial Park. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to read Mike's life story, submit a favorite memory or photo, or to sign the guestbook.