Life Story / Obituary
Ginny Bodbyl was a wonderful person to know and to love. She adored her family and enjoyed reminiscing about her growing years. Generous, compassionate, as well as a hard worker, Ginny lived her life giving so much of her time and resources to the family she loved. She will be lovingly remembered and greatly missed by her many special friends and family for generations to come.
Virginia Mar Smith was born on July 22, 1930, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Born the oldest to loving parents, Robert and Eva (Fairchild) Smith, her birth brought them much joy and happiness! Her father immigrated from London, Ontario, and worked for the city of East Grand Rapids while her mother worked as a homemaker and a hairstylist from the family home. Later, Ginny was joined by her younger siblings, Robert and Helen. The family built many special memories growing up on their hobby farm in Ada.
Living during tough economic times as a result of the Great Depression, there is no doubt that her early years were impacted by the experience of struggle and sacrifice. Her childhood was filled with spending time reading and riding horses. She enjoyed spending warm summer days at Rose’s bathing beach on Reed’s Lake and Ramona Park. Ginny attended local schools and was a proud graduate of Lowell High School. She followed her dreams of becoming a nurse by attending the Blodgett Hospital Nursing Program and Grand Rapids Junior College. Ginny became an LPN and excelled in her career of serving others.
Not to be forgotten was the meeting of Al Bodbyl, who stole her heart one summer evening in 1953. She was out cruising the streets and ran into Al at a local social hangout. He was home on leave from the service. During the following years, while he served in the Air Force, they corresponded by mail until they eventually were engaged. The happy couple married on June 17, 1955. After a romantic honeymoon to Niagara Falls, they moved into their first home on Cedar Street on the northeast side of Grand Rapids. Together, they raised three wonderful boys; Richard, Steven, and Robert.
As a family, they thrived in new adventures! They fell in love with road trips and took the boys to a wide variety of local areas including Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. Larger trips were spent at as well as Mammoth Caves and Washington DC. Ginny was always the planner and map reader while Al drove. Eventually, they used their seasonal lot at Paradise Cove Campground in Sand Lake as their gathering place for fishing, swimming, and playing Yahtzee in their downtime. They cherished these years exploring together and making lasting memories. Ginny also enjoyed her years volunteering at the boys’ school, Plymouth Christian. As a mother, she was loving, yet the kids always knew where they stood with her.
Once her family was out on their own, Ginny devoted her time to her special hobbies. She loved to knit and she and Al continued their years of camping. They also toured around the states visiting special friends. An avid reader, Ginny could easily finish multiple books in the same week. She mostly enjoyed romance and mystery books. Ginny loved sharing her favorite titles with others. She was always encouraging others to read for relaxation. When it came to sports, she was a lifetime fan of her Detroit Tigers. Win or lose, her loyalty stemmed from years of listening to them on the radio in her younger days. A devoted Christian, she was active in her home church, Seventh Reformed Church. Ginny was a longtime member of the Esther Guild and supported church events in the community. Above all else, she loved spending time with her sweetheart, Al, and her wonderful grandchildren.
Ginny was a gifted caregiver. She had a knack for making others feel special in her presence. She treasured her years as a grandmother and was proud to take all six of them to Toys R US by herself and still lived to tell the tale! She enjoyed keeping each of them entertained and spoiling them from time to time. Though cooking was not her passion, she never had any guests leave hungry! Ginny always kept treats on hand and could easily whip up a breakfast with all the fixings! Her favorite foods were chicken wings, wonton soup, Vitali’s pizza, and anything she didn’t have to cook! Ginny never spent one single day without chocolate!
Never one to complain, Ginny’s outlook was always filled with optimism. She was always there for her family. Known for her sincere compassion for others, her warm spirit, and her laughter, she will be deeply missed and fondly remembered by her loved ones and the many lives she touched during her lifetime.
Virginia M. Bodbyl, age 93, of Grand Rapids, passed away on October 15, 2023. She was preceded in death by her husband, Elliott “Al” Bodbyl. Virginia is survived by her sons, Richard (Joyce) Bodbyl, Steven (Darline) Bodbyl and Robert (Leeann) Bodbyl; Annette Schwarz; grandchildren, Brooke Bodbyl, Renee Bodbyl, Sasha Bodbyl, Steven (Melissa) Bodbyl, Alexandra Bodbyl, Frank Bodbyl, Kiara Schwarz, Thomas (Shannon) Knoertzer, Kasey (Joseph) Bourne and Kimberlee (Jason) Lee; 12 great-grandchildren; brother, Robert Smith; sister, Helen Morris; and several nieces and nephews.
The Memorial Service will be held at 2 PM on Friday, October 20, 2023, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave NW. Visitation will be for one hour prior to the service. Contributions in her memory may be made to the Literacy Center of West Michigan. Interment in Fairplains Cemetery. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to submit a favorite memory or photo or to sign the guestbook.