Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Robert (Bob) Bieszka

December 20, 2023
Alexandria, VA


Visitation Open House

Saturday, March 16, 2024
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Van Strien Creston Chapel
1833 Plainfield Ave., N.E
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
(616) 361-2613
Driving Directions

Time of sharing memories

Saturday, March 16, 2024
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM EDT
Live Stream
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Van Strien Creston Chapel
1833 Plainfield Ave., N.E
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
(616) 361-2613
Driving Directions


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.

Inland Seas Education Association
100 Dame Street
Suttons Bay, MI 49682
(231) 271-3077
Web Site

ALS Association Michigan Brance
PO Box 26599
Fraser, MI 48026
(248) 680-6540
Web Site

Arbor Day Foundation
211 N. 12th St.
Lincoln, NE 68508
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Principled, kind-hearted, and pleasant, Robert “Bob” Bieszka lived a life rich in family and friends. As an introvert, Bob could be quiet, but his quietness masked a sharp and observant mind. He possessed a wonderful, dry sense of humor, a gentle warmth, and a positive outlook, no matter how challenging life could be. Bob was an accomplished outdoorsman and hunter and an amazing artist and photographer. A devoted dog lover to Queenie, Annie, and Sadie, every friend Bob made he kept for life. A kind and caring husband, proud father, adoring grandfather, beloved brother, uncle, and friend, Bob will long be remembered and dearly missed.

1953 marked the end of the Korean War, and the nation began to lean into a much-welcomed time of peace. The year proved to hold exciting firsts; the polio vaccine was developed, and the first color television sets, transistor radios, and Corvette cars were on sale. While the first James Bond novel made its debut, Peter Pan, From Here to Eternity, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes filled the theaters. The middle-class standard of living continued to grow and appeared to have no boundaries; it was definitely a time of much hope. Nowhere was there a greater cause to celebrate the possibilities of hope than in the hearts and home of Ted and Crystal (Jacobs) Bieszka as they welcomed their son Bob to their family on April 7 in Comstock Park, Michigan.

One of four children who were close in age, Bob grew up in the good company of his siblings, Chuck, Joanne, and John. A skilled builder who built all the family homes, Bob’s father worked in the Public Works Department for the City of Grand Rapids, while his mother worked for Corduro Rubber Company making auto parts and was an accomplished tailor and seamstress. The family home was on North Division Street in Comstock Park, and Bob spent a lot of time playing baseball, fishing, hunting, and waterskiing with his sister and brothers. As a child, Bob loved to explore the woods and creek behind his house.

The favorite and most frequent vacation destination for the Bieszkas was the family cottage on Long Lake, where Bob enjoyed fishing and water skiing. Bob’s family made a memorable trip to Montreal, Canada, in 1967 for the World’s Fair. Other favorite trips included a fishing trip to Wawa, Canada, a visit to The Cross in the Woods at Indian River with his grandparents, and seeing a Detroit Tigers doubleheader against the New York Yankees in Detroit.

Bob served as an Altar Boy at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and had an excellent tenor singing voice as a boy, singing solos at church for many holiday celebrations. Bob played little league baseball and was a very good pitcher. He also played high school football as a quarterback. In school, Bob excelled in drawing, painting, and design. Not only did his artistic skills earn him good grades, but his drawings were often highlighted on the covers of school programs/brochures. Bob also loved to hunt with his rifle, shotgun, and bow and arrow. He shot his first deer in his teens and continued to hunt for many years into adulthood.

Bob attended Holy Trinity Grade School from 1960 to 1967 and West Catholic High School from 1967 to 1971. After graduation from high school, he continued his education at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1975. He then went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree in design from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield, Michigan, graduating in 1977.

In the summer of 1986, Bob joined his friend Tom Kelly on a sailing trip up the Hudson River. They moored in Tarrytown, NY, and Bob took the train down to New York City to meet Mary Jukuri, the cousin of his good friend, Janet Lampi. His first-ever trip to New York became a memorable moment when he met his future wife, Mary, who worked as an urban designer and lived in the city.

A Detroit native and graduate of Michigan State University in Landscape Architecture, Mary and Bob hit it off immediately over a shared love of art, design, and nature. The couple commuter-dated for a year between Grand Rapids, Michigan, and New York City, back when an airline ticket on People’s Express Airlines cost only $79 round trip. Then Bob moved out east to be with Mary in 1987. The couple lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, for a year before moving back to Michigan and settling in Ann Arbor in 1988.

Bob and Mary married on September 3, 1989, at Leslie Park in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They celebrated their nuptials with a honeymoon to San Francisco and northern California, traveling up the coast to Redwoods National Park and down to Big Sur.

The newlyweds initially lived in Ann Arbor while they worked on designing and building their home in nearby Scio Township, Michigan. The couple was blessed to welcome their son James in 1991, and the family moved into their home on Marshall Road in 1992. While raising their son, Bob and Mary were fortunate to travel and take vacations. They explored the Great Lakes, and their trips to the Leelanau Peninsula and the upper peninsula of Michigan were favorites. More extensive trips included visits to Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons National Parks, as well as Disneyworld. Bob was a loving, protective, and dependable father. Very active in his son’s life, Bob was especially eager to pass on his love of Red Wings hockey and Detroit Lions football.

Bob worked as a graphic designer, photographer, and art director for companies and agencies in Traverse City, Grand Rapids, New York, and Ann Arbor until becoming Art Director for Brasscraft in Novi, Michigan, where he worked until retirement in 2018. Having inherited his building skills from helping his dad, Bob worked on many construction projects, including acting as a general contractor and helping build his own home in Dexter. His most recent project was building a barrel sauna for his son Jim and his family in the backyard of their Virginia home.

Though Bob was raised Catholic, as he matured, his spirituality grew away from organized religion and found an outlet in the natural world. He felt most spiritual in nature, in the woods, and on Lake Michigan in the Leelanau peninsula. Bob also embraced environmental conservation, planting and propagating trees and native plants at their home in Scio Township.

Bob was a man of many passions and hobbies, collecting friends and an encyclopedia of knowledge with each activity. Through his friend Roger Hill, Bob developed a passion for hickory golf, becoming a member of the Society of Hickory Golfers, a group dedicated to preserving vintage golf and restoring antique wood shafted golf clubs for play. Despite his high handicap, his golf friends affectionately dubbed him “Sunny” for his enthusiasm and happiness playing the game, no matter his score. Bob loved music and was always whistling and singing old favorites. He loved classic rock and the Blues and frequently joked, “All the good notes got used up in the 70s.” His favorite artists included Steve Winwood, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, The Who, Steely Dan, Dire Straits, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Bruce Coburn. Over the years, Bob amassed a collection of over 400 vinyl records and a collection of antique fishing lures. While he preferred news and magazines to novels, he consumed news from many sources and was always up on current events. Bob also embraced environmental conservation, planting and propagating trees and native plants at their home in Scio Township.

Once they became empty nesters, Bob and Mary expanded their travels abroad, visiting many countries and cities, including London, Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki, and Istanbul. One of Bob’s favorite trips combined both travel and golf when he got to play at the Machrihanish Golf Club, a links-style golf course near Campbelltown, Scotland. The couple loved Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor for special occasions, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.; they especially enjoyed their butterscotch pudding. At home, Bob’s favorite meals to prepare included venison stew and venison “McNuggets,” a family favorite.

Without a doubt, Bob’s greatest joy was his family. A proud father, he relished the honor of supporting his son, witnessing his life, and welcoming Jim’s wife, Noor, into the family. Grandchildren Theo, age two, and Zoya, age six months, were his heart’s delight.

While our days with him were far too few, every moment we shared with Bob is a gift we will long treasure. As we gather to celebrate Bob’s wonderful life, may we find much comfort in shared memories and in the honor of carrying his legacy forward. In each moment we relish in nature’s beauty, take to the greens, cast our lines, listen to the songs of the 70s, curl up with a canine companion, travel with our beloved, or share a great meal and laughs with loved ones, we keep Bob’s loving spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired each of us.

Robert James Bieszka, age 70, passed away in his home in Alexandria, Virginia, on Wednesday evening, December 20, 2023. Bob was surrounded in love and attended by his wife, son, and youngest brother. Bob was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in late 2022 and succumbed to the disease a year later. Bob is preceded in death by his parents, Ted and Crystal Bieszka. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Mary Jukuri; son, James Bieszka; daughter-in-law, Noor Martakoush; and grandchildren, Theo and Zoya; brother and sister-in-law, Chuck and Kathy Bieszka; sister and brother-in-law, Joanne and Mike Feutz; brother, John Bieszka, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and aunts. A memorial gathering will be held for family and friends in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Saturday, March 16, 2024, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Van Strien Creston Chapel, located at 1833 Plainfield Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505, from 1 to 4 PM. A time for sharing will be held at 2 PM. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Inland Seas Education Association at https://schoolship.org, the ALS Association at https://www.als.org, or the Arbor Day Foundation at https://www.arborday.org. To leave a memory, post a picture, or offer online condolences, please visit Bob’s personal memory page at www.heritagelifestory.com