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Gilda's Club of Grand Rapids
1806 Bridge St NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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Life Story / Obituary
Through the life he lived each day, Randall “Randy” Ames made the most of the days he was given while spreading his zest for life to all who were near. He was a hardworking man to be sure, but he also understood the value of enjoying life along the way. Randy was deeply devoted to his family, and he had a special way of making each of his children feel uniquely loved. With a warm, compassionate, and genuine personality, he made a significant impact in the lives of so many. Life will never be the same without Randy here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
It seems only fitting that Randy’s journey began during a time that was as vibrant as he was. It was the 1950s when televisions were becoming part of our homes, Elvis Presley took the music world by storm, and by the end of the decade we had become a nation of 50 states with the additions of both Alaska and Hawaii. It was on February 4, 1954, that Russell and Irene Ames announced the birth of the baby boy they named Randall Edward in Nashville, Michigan. Raised on the family farm in Nashville, he was the older of two as he was joined in his family by his sister, Barbara, who was one year younger. They were very close and could often be found playing together. Randy’s father was a tool and die maker who also taught some classes in tool and die making while his mother was a homemaker and nurse.
From the time he was a young boy Randy had an adventurous spirit. Although his sister preferred to play inside, Randy preferred to be outside. He could often be found outside playing in the barn built hay forts or exploring at the creek. Living on a farm meant that Randy and his sister both had chores including cleaning up after the pigs. Randy loved driving the tractor, but his favorite chore was when his mother asked him to crack the walnuts on the driveway with the tractor. As a family they attended Zion Lutheran Church in Woodland, Michigan. There were family get togethers and holidays spent with extended family at one of the grandparents’ farms where it was common for five generations to be represented. There were also family camping trips to both state and national parks. As a teen Randy was a Boy Scout, and he participated in various community service projects. He liked riding dirt bikes, was a member of the Grand Rapids Ski Club during the winter months, and enjoyed the disco era and disco dancing. Basketball was his favorite sport, and as a student he graduated from Maple Valley High in 1972 and then Baker College with his BA in 1998.
New and exciting changes were in store for Randy when he met the young woman of his dreams. Her name was Becky Allen, and they met in 1979 when they were both working at Jackson Products. Their first date was in November, and they fell in love quickly. Becky had planned a surprise birthday party for Randy in February, but he surprised her right back when he turned it into an engagement party. They were married on a beautiful day, August 23, 1980, at 3 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church in Woodland. After a reception on Plainfield Avenue in Grand Rapids, Randy and Becky took a honeymoon to Upper Michigan where they took in the sights at Tahquamenon Falls, the Soo Locks, Petoskey, and Mackinac Island. Together they were blessed with three children including Robert in 1981, Michael in 1984, and Carrie in 1990. They had moved to Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, for Randy's work, then to Green Bay, and then back to Michigan in 1991 where they settled in Holland. They remained there until moving to Grand Rapids just a few years ago.
There was never anything of greater value in Randy’s life than his family. He had a close and uniquely special relationship with each of his children, and he was an active part of their lives. Randy coached Robert in basketball, was a troop leader for Michael's Scout troop, and was a number one fan and cheerleader for Carrie’s cheer team. He easily trusted his children, which actually made him a bit of a pushover. The kids’ friends always found a safe haven with Randy and Becky, and over the years many of these kids lived with them for a time during their teen years. As a family they attended Lutheran Church in Grand Haven. There, Randy was involved in helping with job placement as well as helping them with their resumes, always encouraging and directing them along the way. As a family they frequently camped at various state parks. When Randy became a grandfather, he couldn’t have been more thrilled. His grandchildren loved playing store with their Papa, complete with a cash register. They also camped together, and until it was more recently banned, slime was something they had fun playing with together.
Life was forever changed for Randy and his loved ones when he was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer that had spread to his liver in 2011. This was life-changing, and from that point forward Randy lived each day like it was his last. He healed his relationships and plotted out a course of all the activities and things he wanted to do. Randy set goals for hikes, and he spent so much time outdoors. He inspired so many others through his positive, “keep moving” attitude. Randy underwent several experimental treatments with the goal to help others who were faced with the same diagnosis. He continued with so many of the things he had always loved like disco music and seventies heavy metal, and shows like MacGyver and Andy Griffith. Randy always loved food and eating, especially steak and potatoes as well as liver and onions being among his favorites.
Truly selfless, even in the way he approached the fight for his life, Randall “Randy” Ames was an extraordinary man to know and love. Outgoing and trusting, he was always there to encourage or help others in whatever way he could. Randy treasrued his family, and his love extended to all who were near. He will never be forgotten.
AMES, Randall E. “Randy” Age 65, hiked his way to heaven on September 8, 2019 from his home in Grand Rapids, MI after a hard-fought battle with prostate cancer. He was born February 4, 1954 in Nashville, MI to Russell and Irene Ames. He graduated from Nashville High in 1972 and received his BA from Baker College in 1998. Randy is survived by his wife of 39 years, Becky (Allen) Ames, and three children; Robert Ames of Holland MI, Michael Ames of Grand Rapids, MI, Carrie (Ames) Heuvel and son-in-law Matthew of Grand Haven MI, and four granddaughters, Kaya Ames of FL, Teagan Ames of Holland, Taylor and Morgan Heuvel of Grand Haven. He is proceeded in death by his father, Russell Ames. He is survived by his mother Irene (Roberts) Ames of Hastings, MI; sister Barbara Spagnuolo (John) of Holt, MI; mother-in-law Pearline Allen of Abilene, TX; brother-in-law Michael Allen (Karen) of San Antonio, TX; sister-in-laws, Barbara Constant (Jeff) of Abilene, TX; Wanda Berry (Rick) of FL/MI and several Aunts, Uncles, Nieces, Nephews and Cousins. Randy spent 43 years in IT services, data coding, programming and analysis, most recently with S. Abraham & Sons, Inc. in Walker MI. Randy was active with his children supporting their various activities and coaching all 3 in basketball. He was nicknamed “Harvest” from the group of boys he coached and deeply cared about. Randy was active in Boy Scouts Troop 157 in Holland where he served as Scout Master and witnessed his son Michael achieve his Eagle Scout rank. He loved the outdoors and hiking the trails after his cancer diagnosis. Hiking was his best therapy, challenging his endurance to the end. Living one day at time, he chose to take each remaining day and live it like it was his last. He will be missed by all and remembered by many on the trail. A funeral service will be held on Friday, September 13, 2019 at 1 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE. Friends may visit with family on Thursday from 2-4 and 6-8 PM. Memorials may be made to Spectrum Health Hospice or Gilda's Club. Please visit Randy's personal web page to read more of his life story, leave a memory or condolence at www.heritagelifestory.com.