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
Many characteristics make up the lives of many great people, yet those derived from the heart are the qualities that leave a forever imprint on the hearts of others, and Roger Bauer was such a man. A man of faith, honor, integrity and strength, Roger held fast to the family entrusted to his care. With his beloved Willa by his side, he led by way of example which served his children well. A personable and outgoing gentleman, Roger never met a stranger and could strike up a welcome conversation with anyone. Although deeply missed, there is peace in knowing he is forever with Willa resting peacefully.
As the Great Depression cast a shadow of havoc around the globe, “Hooverville” homeless encampments across the U.S. were just one of the many signs of disparaging times. Big city gangsters ruled the streets as prohibition was law of the land, and cartoon character, Betty Boop made her first onscreen appearance. Baseball was all the rage, yet in the lives of William and Hedwig “Hattie” Ritcheske of Grand Rapids, Michigan, nothing could have brought more joy than the June 17, 1930, birth of their little boy, Roger William. Roger’s father was a hardworking patternmaker and shop owner while his mother, a homemaker, looked after young Roger and his two older by seven years, maternal twin sisters, Dorothy and Doris. An older brother, Donald, sadly died at the age of five from pneumonia before Roger’s birth. Roger was never especially close to his sisters, but they were inseparable to their dying days.
Roger and his family made their home on Third Street on Grand Rapids northwest side where he attended Stocking Elementary School. As a kid he enjoyed ice skating and playing softball with neighborhood friends. A lanky boy, Roger was taller than all of his classmates and music began playing a vital role in his youth which remained throughout his life. During his youth he cut grass for spending money and by the time he was 14, Roger landed a job working at Heyboer Drug Store before making his way to working at Petersons Food Market.
Growing up, Roger and his family were members of St. John’s Evangelical Reformed Church where he grew in his faith. While his family never really celebrated birthdays, Roger held fond memories of his childhood with his father playing the role of Santa until the day he discovered “Santa’s” clothes tucked away in a family trunk which quickly dispelled this treasured myth for him. As a family, they at times rented cottages on Silver and Bostwick Lakes. An especially fond memory for Roger when he was seven years old was the time he stayed with his uncle at Big Bay on Lake Superior as he lived there as the lighthouse keeper.
Graduating from Union High School with the Class of 1948, Roger went on to further his education by attending Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois. Avoiding the Korean War draft due to a detected heart murmur, Roger studied biology and chemistry, and received his BS in 1952. He ran track during his college years, served as his senior class president, and continued his love for music. He sang and played the violin for a time, but his melodic singing voice found him as a member of glee clubs and choirs alike. To support himself during these years, he did yard work and parked cars, and for two summers worked for A&P warehouse and at American Seating before truly beginning his longtime career following his return to the area.
Roger sang in many men’s groups, quartets and choirs throughout his life, but not long after graduating from college he laid eyes on the young woman who would forever have his heart and her name was Willa Bos. Roger was in the choir and Willa was filling-in for the church organist and Roger was taken with her right from the start. She thought Roger to be a handsome fellow with a nice voice, and although she was four years younger, she instantly fell for him. After rehearsal that fateful night, the two went to the Red Lion for a hot dog and coffee along with great conversation. Following a two-year courtship and after Willa graduated from college they shared vows of marriage on June 8, 1956, at the Calvin Seminary Chapel just days before Roger’s 26th birthday.
After a memorable honeymoon to Canada and the East coast, the newlyweds made their first home together in Roger’s duplex at 558 Spencer NE and rented the other half out. There they became the proud parents of two sons, Randy in 1957 followed by Brian in 1959. Seven years later they built a new home for their family on Charlotte NW where son, Ken completed their family in 1968. Longtime members of St. John’s UCC, Willa and Roger raised their boys in faith and eventually became members of Central Reformed Church. They were each involved in church and gave of their time and talents. Roger served as a deacon and elder and of course, he sang solo and in the church choir. They later began attending Mayflower Congregational Church where they could better serve with their musical talents. To support Willa and their boys, Roger worked as a purchasing manager and then in sales for Sackner Products where he remained for 44 years of faithful service to the company.
Roger used his musical talents for the benefit of others his whole life through. He was in his senior high school play and sang in the boys’ choir and Glee Club. He was part of a barbershop quartet, “The Brigadiers,” and later, “A Fringe Benefit” for 15 years. He performed in the civic theater’s production of the “Music Man” and spent much time singing as a soloist and in choirs and choruses. He and Willa’s musical passions were passed on to their sons and many memories were made as a family playing and singing together.
Cherished memories were shared camping as a family, usually at their favorite spot on Manitoulin Island in Canada. They also took in the sights and campgrounds out West, and on the East coast. Time outdoors and all it had to offer was a mainstay of the Bauer family. Through the years, Roger and Willa enjoyed their love of travel by visiting destinations such as Mexico, Japan, England, Germany, the Netherlands and other parts of Europe. For numerous years they wintered for three months in Naples, Florida after retiring where they made many special friends.
After retiring, Roger and Willa dedicated 13 years as reception desk hosts at Frederik Meijer Gardens. Aside from their travels, they enjoyed any time spent with family and friends, enjoying get-togethers and hosting in their home. One of Roger’s favorite meals included a good pork roast with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut with a cold glass of beer. He loved going to the former Schnitzlebank Restaurant for their delicious Polish cuisine. Always handy, Roger worked well with his hands and enjoyed time spent in his workshop.
Roger and Willa eventually sold their family home and moved into a condo in Allendale before moving to Covenant Living of the Great Lakes where they have resided for the last two years. It was an especially hard transition for them with failing health and the Covid pandemic. Despite his own health issues, Roger lovingly looked after Willa and they both considered themselves blessed simply being together.
Roger was the type of man who tackled projects head-on, had the confidence to do so and gave the very best of his abilities which he instilled into his sons. He possessed the confidence to do things right and held himself to high standards which were values he also carried on to his sons. Their strengths and advantages came from the solid foundation that Roger and Willa, as parents, instilled in their family. Roger valued education, travel, and inspired his children to do things with the expectation of working hard for what they had without being presumptive or overbearing. When a need arose, Roger was there and always knew what to do with a calm and knowing demeanor. He made wonderful impressions on his sons for his fortitude and perseverance in many ways as a husband, father, and the good friend he was to all. Generous and kind, Roger was articulate when it came to remembering names and made everyone he encountered feel important, because they truly were. He saw people for who they were and believed everyone was worthy of respect and consideration. This was especially true with their daughters-in-law whom they considered daughters in every sense. They too are so incredibly grateful for Roger and Willa raising sons to be good husbands, fathers and caring people, set by fine examples.
When Willa passed away on August 11, Roger seemed fine physically with the usual ailments, yet his heart was lost after 66 years with his beloved Willa by his side. Planning a beautiful memorial service for her was so important to him, and now we celebrate their homegoing together of two lives who lived well and loved much. Gone yet never to be forgotten, Roger will be deeply missed and fondly remembered for all that he was, and more.
Roger William Bauer, age 92, of Grand Rapids, MI, went to be with his Lord and Savior on Tuesday, August 16, 2022. He was born in the summer of 1930 to the late William and Hedwig Bauer in Grand Rapids, MI. Along with his parents, Roger is preceded in death by his wife of 66 years, Willa Joan Bauer [Bos] who passed away just five days prior to Roger as well as by his three siblings, Donald, Dorothy and Doris. Roger is survived his three sons: Randy (Leslie), Brian (Debbie) and Ken (Kristin). His grandchildren are Steven Bauer, Emma (Jon) Elms and Becca Bauer. Also surviving is his great-granddaughter, Piper Elms and as well as his niece and nephews. A combined memorial service for both Roger and Willa, officiated by Rev. Steve Armfield, will be held at Mayflower Congregational Church, (2345 Robinson Rd SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506) on Friday, August 19, 2022, 11:00 AM. Friends may meet with the family on Thursday, August 18, 2022, 6-8 PM also at Mayflower Congregational Church as well as one prior to the funeral service on Friday beginning at 10:00 AM. The service will be live streamed for those unable to attend in person. For those who wish, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, (185 Oakes St. SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503).