Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

William N. "Bill" Pietri

December 18, 1942 - May 9, 2019
Grand Rapids, MI


Time of Celebrating, Remembering and Sharing

Wednesday, May 22, 2019
4:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Bissell Tree House
1300 West Fulton St.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504




Remembering Service

Wednesday, May 22, 2019
6:00 PM EDT
Bissell Tree House
1300 West Fulton St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504


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.

Meijer Gardens
1000 East Beltline Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Bill Pietri will forever be known for his deep love of all people. A wonderful conversationalist he kept his audience entertained with numerous quotes and historical anecdotes that were remarkably fitting and appropriate to just about any topic they may be discussing. He was a thoughtful man who immersed himself in reading educational journals as well as studying and viewing documentaries and news programs to be informed about the latest concerns with society. An extensive traveler, Bill was able to look at the world with a broad lens understanding that humanity impacted the environment as well as the greater mysteries of existence. Deeply loved, Bill’s treasured memories will surely be savored by his loved ones for many generations to come.

Bill’s story began during a time that was marked by WWII. Families in the United States were experiencing a gas rationing of only three gallons a week and a new breed of movies with war themes were hatching. During the years of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Vincent Henry and Marjorie Jane (Nancarrow) Pietri were pleased to announce the birth of their son, William December 18, 1942, in Trenton, New Jersey. His birth brought much joy and promise in an era of great change. Both of his parents worked outside the family home. His father was an insurance adjuster and his mother worked as a homemaker in addition to being a teacher, art museum director, and big band pianist, as the children grew older.

At the tender age of two, the family relocated to the Milwaukee area where Bill attended local schools. He was active in Boy Scouts and was a model student. During his adolescent years, he worked as a lifeguard, as well as worked at a local sausage factory. Swimming became his sole passion during his years in high school and after graduating from Pulaski High School, Bill continued on the swim team at MIT. Studying for a degree in philosophy, he juggled his studies swimming as well as bartending to support his college expenses. His adventurous spirit was released after graduating from college where he and his three best friends spent a year touring Mexico in a Vanagon! Soon after, he met Patricia Bennett. Together they welcomed home their two wonderful sons, Thomas and William. After five years, their marriage ended in divorce. Bill landed in Grand Rapids accepting a position with the junior college as a computer programmer where he met Denise Lynn Versluis and they were loving companions for ten years. They welcomed their son, Karl home in 1982. Happy and content together, they joined in marriage on November 14, 1986, at their home on Dean Lake with a small ceremony for their family.

He and Denise shared a remarkable life together. Her work with Amway allowed for the two of them to travel all over the world. Bill continued his work with computer programming at Westinghouse, Foremost Insurance and the Jackson National Y2K program before his retirement in 2000. Throughout these years he secured time off for many family vacations to Mexico, Greece, Australia, Florida, and Ecuador. Each and every summer the entire Pietri family joined together for a large reunion in Wisconsin, a wonderful tradition to celebrate another year of memories. In later years when the kids were grown, he and Denise also visited Russia, Denmark, Turkey, Italy, South Africa, Paris, Budapest, Prague, Krakow, London, Australia, and many parts of Eastern Europe. Some highlights from these years were going on a Baltic cruise and a South African Safari. For many recent winters, the two of them shared their time in Mexico to avoid the harsh Midwest weather. Incredibly blessed, they shared a wonderful collection of rich memories to cherish.

In addition to his knowledge, Bill held many special pastimes. He loved all kinds of music and had a vast collection of albums and CD's of many genres including blues, jazz, and classical, yet especially favored, Steely Dan. Not musically gifted himself, he often joked that he played the stereo when any asked if played any musical instruments! Bill was an avid reader and read Economist Magazine faithfully to keep up with the latest news. If you accepted an invitation to accompany him at a museum, you better bring some patience as he literally read each and every display, placard, or signage in the building! A nature lover, Bill also enjoyed the outdoors and was especially fond of trees and turtles. Seeing trees as living creatures, he would never allow any trimming of cutting of any tree in his yard. Once while driving down the highway, he pulled over to rescue a turtle that he took home and named, Prudence. He and his grandson, Dominic both shared a love of fishing and treasured many special times together in search of a fresh catch! Any time spent with Bill was a lesson on life as he was sure to share his inner thoughts or snippets of knowledge on just about any topic.

Sadly, Bill’s life was touched by cancer. He had developed a brain tumor, glioblastoma, just a year ago. Undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, as well as surgery, Bill was placed under hospice care on Easter. He spent his last moments surrounded by his loving family who tenderly cared for him. There is no doubt that he will be deeply missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing him. For the rest of their lives, may they forever remember his warm humor and intriguing wisdom. May they also honor his passion for learning each time they visit a museum or pause to observe the world around them with the same sense of wonder as Bill had modeled for them over their years together.

William N. “Bill” Pietri, aged 76, of Grand Rapids, peacefully passed away at his home in the presence of his loving family. He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Denise Pietri (Versluis); his children, Thomas (Brandie) Pietri, William Pietri, and Karl Pietri; his grandson, Domonic Pietri; special niece, Kelly Bochat and her children, Sam, Abby and Izzy; sisters and brother, Katie Pietri, John (Chris) Pietri and Mary Pietri; brothers-in-law, Max Versluis and Marc Versluis; many other nieces, nephews and friends. Bill was a gentle, and loving husband, father and grandfather who loved people. He will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered. He loved the outdoors and trees, especially. Please join Bill's family and friends on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 from 4-8 PM at the Bissell Tree House - John Ball Park, 1300 West Fulton St. SW for a time of celebrating, reflecting and sharing with a Remembering Service during this time celebrating Bill's life at 6:00 PM. Please enter from the Fulton St. entrance. In lieu of flowers contribution in his memory may be made to the Fredrik Meijer Gardens. To read more about Bill's life, to sign his guest book and to leave your own memory of him, please visit his web page at www.lifestorynet.com