Life Story / Obituary
Passionate, determined, and creative, Nina Marie Fox lived a life rich in family and friends. While she marched to her own beat and loved to run the show, Nina was an insatiable student of life who enjoyed sharing all she learned with others. Organized, steadfast, and powerful, she was a natural leader who was willing to invest her all to manifest her visions. Nina was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, who relished in doing for others. She embraced each day as a gift, and each person as a friend. In so doing, she inspired all who were blessed to know her to do the same.
1955 proved a year of vibrant growth with consumerism taking off in previously unimaginable ways. With the sale of nearly 7.9 million cars, for the first time in history, seven out of ten families in the US owned an automobile, and new laws were created to require seat belts to be installed on all new cars. This was the year Ray Kroc built the first McDonald’s, and TV dinners appeared. Cans of Coca-Cola, Lego, Velcro, and The Mickey Mouse Club all made their debuts during this prosperous year, while Rock and Roll music continued to grow in popularity with idols including Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and the Comets, Chuck Berry and The Platters. In Grand Rapids, Michigan this time of hope and plenty grew especially bright on February 16, as Nina made her way into the world.
Raised by her mother, Vera Pirog, Nina grew up on the northwest side of Grand Rapids. Here, she was known to be generally quiet. She attended Union High and graduated in 1973.
While working at Burger King on Leonard St., she came to know Bob Fox, who was a year older, a student at a different school, and her coworker. In time, she and Bob began dating and setting their eyes on a future spent in one anothers good company.
On January 25, 1975, Nina and Bob married at St. Anthony. Following their nuptials, they moved into an upstairs apartment on the northwest side of Grand Rapids. Bob worked for Consumers Energy, and when their son Clinton was born in 1976, Nina became a stay at home mom. Her family-focus grew even stronger when son Jason arrived in 1978. Motherhood suited her, and her confidence began to grow exponentially.
Soon, Nina became tenacious about learning. Philosophical and deep, she was an ideas person who liked to challenge the status quo. Her willingness to think “outside the box” resulted in a love for creating games and art projects all designed to open her sons’ eyes to new things. Fiercely protective of her boys, Nina would fight tooth and nail for them, fully supporting all of their endeavors.
As the boys grew older, Nina took on several jobs including positions at Steelcase and local non-profits. She loved investing in her work and doing her best to improve each company she worked for.
Despite the demands of her jobs, she always found a way to balance work and life — and that included travel. As a family, they explored LA, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, and many other great cities. Over the years, she planned several memorable trips to Vegas with Bob and boys as a way to connect as a family after Clinton moved to LA.
A multi-faceted woman, Nina had many layers. She was a giver, proud matriarch, party planner, adventurer, treasure seeker, and warm welcomer of others. She loved creating joyful experiences for others and was well-known for her epic parties. For the Fourth, she decorated the pontoon in red, white and blue, and to celebrate Fall, she would fill the pontoon with hay bales and have a floating hayride. Her home was always open. Many family gatherings were centered on Nina’s creative energy. Sunday dinners were created for the family to gather and connect regularly. She also loved creating family parties that centered around holidays. Some of her most famous parties included Fox Family Foodfest, New Year's Eve, 7/11 parties. Nina believed food was all about bringing people together. She and Bob purchased a home on Pickerel Lake that had formerly been a restaurant. Periodically, people would come to the door expecting it to be a restaurant. Without hesitation, Nina would invite her unexpected guests in, show them around, and break out the history book of the restaurant and pictures. She wanted them to have a good experience.
Open to just about anything, Nina loved to explore and collect ideas. She loved listening to TED Talks as they filled her with wisdom and ideas that she could share with others. She looked at things from any and all angles and believed in the possibilities of many things; aliens, spirits, and reincarnation were just a few. She liked to talk to others about these possibilities.
Nina loved the outdoors and enjoyed traveling and camping. She liked to enhance the car or camper with her inventions, including fold-down beds in the cars for the boys and unique covers for the interior lights that allowed the boys to control the light. They camped throughout the UP, Florida, Colorado, and Vermont, and took several long trips by train. Nina also planned many great tubing trips that included Fox-logo innertubes. When not creating great outdoor adventures for her family, Nina volunteered at Camp Newaygo.
Creative and resourceful in so many ways, Nina LOVED to bargain shop! Whether with others or by herself, attending a 50 cent sale at Goodwill Distribution Center was pure joy. She enjoyed the interaction with fellow shoppers and loved the thrill of repurposing things and then giving them to others as gifts. She loved looking for treasures and would go to Goodwill on all her travels across the country; it was her happy place.
Nina also loved animals and her hometown — she loved to talk about Grand Rapids. She was a walking ambassador for the city, frequently sharing what makes living in GR so special.
Without a doubt, being a grandma to her grandson, Ferris, was Nina’s greatest joy. Ferris’ arrival gave birth to a new level of party planning and fun experiences to create. A perfect day was any day spent with Ferris and the rest of her family.
Clearly, it is difficult to imagine life in the absence of Nina’s bright light and enthusiasm. May it afford comfort to know that we carry the best of her legacy forward. With each new idea we explore, party we plan, adventure we take, treasure we uncover, gift we give, and moment we gather around the table with our loved ones, we celebrate the many ways Nina inspired our lives. By living each day to the fullest and in our own special way, we keep her spirit alive and inspiring others as she inspired us.
Nina Marie Fox age 64, of Grand Rapids, passed away on Friday, September 6, 2019, with her family at her side. She was preceded in death by her mother, Vera Overholt; and brother, Steve Overholt. Nina is survived by Bob, her husband of 44 years; children, Clinton (Elizabeth) Fox and Jason (Jacalyn) Fox; and grandson, Ferris. Also surviving are her mother-in-law, Mary Ann Fox; sister-in-law, Delores Overholt; nieces and nephew, Erin (Jeremy) Denhof, Matt Overholt and Samantha (Ryan) Post. The Funeral Service will be held at 4 PM on Saturday, September 14, 2019, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Friends are invited to visit with her family from 6-8 PM on Friday at the funeral home. Contributions in her memory may be made to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to read Nina’s lifestory, submit a favorite memory, photo, or to sign the guestbook online.