Monday, November 19, 2018
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM EST
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Rosary at 7:30
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Although she was taken from her loved ones much too soon, Rebecca Centilli made a significant impact in the lives of all who were near. She was strong, courageous, and fun-loving with a zest for life that was contagious to all who were near. Rebecca was talented and wiling to work hard in everything she did. With a deep love for her family and friends, she was treasured by so many. Life wasn’t always easy for Rebecca, but she faced whatever came her way with such grace. Although she will be dearly missed, she leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.
The 1980s were an exciting time in America. It was the age of technology when phones came into our cars, we started recording our lives on camcorders, and VCRs introduced us to the earliest version of watching things “on demand.” Amidst this exciting time was a time of great celebration in the lives of Dennis and Brenda Centilli as they announced the birth of the baby girl they named Rebecca Lee on October 19, 1983, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She weighed in at nine pounds, eight ounces, as she was nearly one month overdue. Rebecca was the youngest of five as her siblings included Jeni, Michelle, Brian, and Michael who was sadly stillborn.
In many ways Rebecca was a young girl of her generation. Raised in the family home at 1663 8th Street, NW, she was an easy and happy baby. When she was two-and-a-half, Becca was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in both her knees. She then became active in the JRA groups as she participated in all their activities, groups, and outings, and she attended Camp We Can Do in Cincinnati as well. Taking multiple medications became a way of life for Rebecca, and she also made multiple trips to the hospital and underwent some surgeries. She enjoyed being with her family, and some of their best memories were made at her aunt and uncle’s cottage in Ludington. They loved their boat rides, playing on the dunes and campfire stories. There was also their annual family trip to Cedar Point as well as their family trips to Disney World, which is where Becca had the time of her life.
As much as she could, Rebecca lived a life just like anyone else. She collected Barbies, and with every trip to the hospital she earned herself a new one. To this day, Rebecca had a collection of over 80 as a result. She attended St. Anthony Elementary as part of the first class to go from kindergarten through the eighth grade. As an extrovert, she was very social and had lots of friends. Rebecca was always interested in art including oil, canvas, watercolors, and pastels. She was active in Pom Pon and cheerleading for four years, and her sister Jeni was her coach. Becca’s high school years found her at West Catholic High School where she was active in concert band, marching band, art, and choir for all four years. She even earned an award her Senior year for her participation in Band and went to Germany. In addition, she was involved with plays and musicals, and her favorite performance was as the Statue of Liberty in the Music Man. Becca was life long friends with Marisa since preschool and Tony since kindergarten.
Throughout her life Becca worked hard. She worked as a waitress at Russ’ for a brief time, but this wasn’t really a good fit for her. Rebecca did enjoy her time working at Subway downtown. After graduating from high school in 2001, she then went to Aquinas for her Associate’s of the Arts and then went to Cosmetology School. Becca began working as a receptionist at Heidi Christine’s Spa, and she later worked for the spa in the JW Marriott. This was a great fit for her, and she really enjoyed interacting with clients as well as managing the spa. In addition, Becca worked in sales at Victoria’s Secret.
It was while working at Victoria’s Secret that she met John Hall who worked security at the mall. They began dating and were eventually married on October 4, 2008, at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church where she and her family were members. The newlyweds enjoyed a honeymoon at Disney World where of course, they ate in Cinderella’s Castle.
Throughout her life Becca was into all kinds of things. She was an amazing soprano, and she sang in the St. Anthony children's choir, earning an award for singing from 2nd through 8th grade, as she was the only one that committed for that length of time; and later at Aquinas. As a huge fan of Brittney Spears, Becca even performed a song of hers for the freshman class. Becca also enjoyed shopping, crafting, and painting, giving all of her creations away as gifts. She loved eating out at Mr. Burger and the Melting Pot with friends, and Logan’s and Outback were a close second. She also liked finding new places. Rebecca loved sour candy, just like her Dad. When it came to reading, she loved Harry Potter and was a huge Wizard of Oz fan as she loved everything about Wizard of Oz as well as the play, Wicked. She also liked all things princess. In addition to the Wizard of Oz, Rebecca liked Game of Thrones and Smallville. She was a big sports fan who loved basketball, MSU sports, and the Dallas Cowboys. Every year Becca really got into March Madness and played Fantasy Football with her family. She enjoyed local craft beer, especially Founders KBS. Rebecca could be a bit rebellious and was one to push back at times, and as someone who liked to attract attention she once had Fr. Ed stop his homily after he noticed her pink hair, later asking her why. Pink was her favorite color, after all, and she also had tattoos and piercings. Rebecca was a great listener so people called her all the time, and she also remained very active in the lives of her friends and loved ones via social media since she was a bit more physically limited. She started a Facebook POTS support group and put together fund raisers and silent auctions.
Rebecca loved spending time with her nephew and nieces. She so enjoyed having Jessie over for craft night, kid wine and movies, attending Zach and Jessie's school functions, sporting events and dance recitals. She was especially loved to attend Zach's band events and Jessie's Orchestra events, she was very proud that they were involved in music. Even though niece Emilee was 11 months old, she loved to snuggle her, read to her as well as sing to her.
In 2009, Rebecca began having seizures and lost the ability to drive. Her health began to become very complex, eventually needing to take 300 pills a week. Becca was diagnosed with POTS and lost the ability to work and needed infusions three times a week. Her health took a toll on her marriage. Although they divorced in 2011, they were eventually able to become friends again.
Rebecca was known for making crazy comments or asking odd questions that would leave her older siblings shaking their heads and picking on her throughout her life. "Not being able to think because her foot was asleep" made it easy for her siblings to pick on her daily. It was their way to cope with her difficult health situation, laughter and joking were essential.
With unending love for her family and friends, Rebecca Centilli was a special gift in the lives of many. She was the sort of person who didn’t shy away from doing things her way, even if it meant pushing the limits at times. So much fun to be around, Becca didn’t let her challenges limit her, embracing each moment she was given. Truly beautiful on the inside and out, she will be forever missed.
Rebecca Lee Centilli aged 35, unexpectedly passed away on November 15, 2018. She was preceded in death by her brother, Michael John Centilli; grandparents, Clement and Wilfrieda Centilli and Larry and Jonalee Smith; and Aunt, Mary Ann Taylor. Rebecca is survived by her parents, Dennis and Brenda Centilli; siblings, Jeni and Kevin DeGroot, Michelle Centilli, and Brian Centilli; nephew, Zachary DeGroot; and nieces, Jessica and Emilee DeGroot. Also surviving are several aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 AM on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, 2510 Richmond St. NW. Family and friends will gather to share memories from 6-8 PM on Sunday, 2-4 and 7-9 PM, with a Rosary at 7:30 PM, on Monday at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. There will also be a visitation one hour prior to Mass at the church. Contributions in Rebecca’s memory may be made to DeVos Childrens’ Hospital. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read her lifestory, submit a photo, memory or to sign the guestbook.