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Life Story / Obituary
Outgoing, hardworking, and loyal, Robert John Shultz lived a life rich in faith, family, and friends. Bob, a man who never met a stranger, knew how to make people feel welcome and possessed the fine art of providing comic relief when most needed. Bob led with his heart and, in doing so, proved a powerful role model for all who were blessed to know him. A loyal husband, devoted father, cherished grandfather, and treasured friend, Bob will long be remembered by those he so dearly loved.
1950 was the start of fast changes that would be witnessed for the following two decades. As the Great Depression was becoming a faint memory, families moved to the suburbs. Kids watched Howdy Doody on 12-inch black and white TV sets and spent Saturday afternoons watching cartoons at Cinema matinees. Times were gentler as the nation focused on family and hope for a brighter future. Nowhere was there more hope than in the home of Harold William Charles and Joan (VerWys) Shultz as they welcomed their son Bob on March 3, 1950, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The third of the three Shultz kids, Bob, enjoyed close relationships with his siblings, Sharon and Kenneth. His parents were both factory workers. His dad also made car parts, and his mother made labels for clothing. When Bob was seven, Bob’s family moved to Walker, and the family became members of the First Netherlands Reformed Church. Bob and his brother enjoyed hopping trains to Muskegon without their parents’ knowledge. Bob attended Fairview Elementary and Kenowa Hills High School, where he played baseball and basketball and graduated with the class of 1968.
The course of Bob’s life was forever changed when he met Susan Medema, a student at Calvin College, while on a blind date with friends. The couple dated for 18 months and married at First Christian Reformed Church in Everett, Washington, on July 20, 1973. Following their nuptials, they traveled the Oregon Coast for their honeymoon.
The newlyweds made their first home in Grand Rapids at 919 5th St NW. Bob worked in a beverage bottling plant, where he ran a production line. In time, Bob and Sue welcomed three children to their family. Bethany, Rob, and Joe were the centers of their world. Bob devoted himself to providing them with a loving and supportive home and was known to bribe his kids for good behavior. The family attended Westend Christian Reformed Church. Bob was an active church community member, serving as an Elder, Deacon, Bible study leader, and Kids Hope volunteer.
Bob enjoyed the simple pleasures of listening to the oldies and playing Cribbage, Euchre, or Setback. He also enjoyed bowling and could quickly work math calculations in his head. The family enjoyed memorable vacations to Traverse City and Detroit Tigers Games. Bob loved a good hamburger from Russ’ Restaurant or Mr. Burger and cherished his father’s service flag.
After working hard in the beverage industry for over 44 years, Bob enjoyed retirement and having more opportunities to spend time with family, especially his beloved grandchildren. Olivia, Elise, Sam, Tyler, and Noah were his heart’s delight; any moment shared with them proved a treasure. Bob also enjoyed making trips to visit his sister in Scottsdale, Arizona, and also to St. Louis.
Though our days with Bob were far too few, we find much comfort in our many treasured memories. We also find comfort in the honor of carrying his legacy forward. Each moment we commit ourselves to our families, work hard, engage in lively conversation, offer comic relief, or enjoy a classic Billy Joel tune, we celebrate the many ways Bob gifted our lives. In this way, we keep his charismatic spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired us.
Robert John Shultz, age 73, of Grand Rapids, passed away unexpectedly on September 15, 2023. He was preceded in death by his parents, Harold and Joan Shultz, and siblings, Kenneth Shultz and Sharon Rybarsyk. Robert is survived by his beloved wife of 50 years, Sue; children, Bethany (Brad) Kole; Rob (Susann) Shultz and Joe Shultz; grandchildren, Olivia, Elise, Sam, Tyler, and Noah; brother-in-law, Paul Rybarsyk; sisters-in-law, Judy Medema, Joanne (Jack) VandenBerg and Sally (Bob) Cook; and many nieces and nephews.
The funeral service will be held at 6 PM on Thursday, September 21, 2023, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. The family will receive visitors from 4 PM until the start of the service. Interment in Rosedale Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to West Side Christian School. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to read Robert’s life story, submit a favorite memory or photo, or sign the guestbook.