William 'Bill''s Story
William "Bill" Henry Beia Sr. passed away peacefully in his sleep on Dec. 28, 2017, eight days after his 91st birthday celebration. His party included his favorite and most requested meal, Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Bill was born in Yuma on Dec. 20, 1926, one of seven children born to Czechoslovakian immigrants Wenzel and Anna Beia. Bill was preceded in death by five of his beloved siblings; Henry, Ambrose, Mary, George and Josephine. He is survived by his youngest brother and very best friend, Joseph.
Bill graduated from Mesick High School in 1945. He was always proud that he graduated with his class despite spending an entire year during high school in Munson Hospital recovering from rheumatic fever. Bill remained a Bulldog supporter his entire life and stayed close with many classmates, even through his work and life ventures to Chicago and ultimately Grand Rapids. His home town of Yuma and northern Michigan were his "Happy place," and he could never wait to get back to the place he loved the most.
Bill met the love of his life, Lewella Batt in Mesick. They married and were a perfect example of a loving, devoted couple. They raised their four lucky children in Grand Rapids and truly danced their way through 52 years of a happy life. Lew preceded her husband in death in 2003.
Bill's enthusiasm for everything he did made him fun to be around. He was a smart, sweet, gentle man. Beyond anything else he adored his family. He loved music, dancing, the theater, the Detroit Tigers and the University of Michigan. He also loved his job at GM/Fisher Body in Grand Rapids where he spent 30 years climbing the ladder of success. He started as a line supervisor and was promoted many times to various management roles and retired as the head of the purchasing department. He missed only one day of work due to illness in the first 25 years. He felt like he finally "made it" when allowed access to the executive cafeteria. His pleasures were simple, his gratitude immense. His upbringing as the fourth son of a farmer taught him to work hard, have faith in God and to appreciate all you are blessed with in life. Bill was a devout Catholic.
He was also an avid outdoorsman. When he wasn't spending time with his family or involved with his favorite charities, you could find him on the trout stream or in his fishing boat on the Manistee River. We will never forget the many family "educational" hikes we went on with him. He knew every tree, bush, flower, mushroom and body of water within miles of his childhood stomping grounds. He was delighted to share his love and knowledge of the woods with anybody that was interested, and we all were. Hunting with his sons, son-in-law and grandchildren brought him great pleasure.
Bill is survived by his four very grateful children, Tom (Linda), of McBain, Bill (Carol), of Grand Rapids, Mary (Doug), of Traverse City and Terry (Shannon), of Traverse City. He was the best grandfather to 11 grandchildren, Maureen (Charles) Carithers, of Atlanta, Georgia, Tommy Beia, of Florida, Dr. Todd (Kristy) Beia, of Oregon, Christa Beia, of Lake City, Erica (Kurt) Neller, of Traverse City, Ashley (Kevin) Trapp, of Grand Rapids, Alex (Katie) Beia, of Cadillac, Taylor Beia, of Los Angeles, Blake (Kelsey) Beia of Nashville, Natalie Beia of Ann Arbor and Olivia Hagerty of New York. He was a proud great-grandfather to seven grandchildren, soon to be nine. His circle of love extended far and wide to his brother and sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews and godchildren.
The family would like to extend a special thank you to his lady friend, Kay Majkszak, of Eastlake. Kay put the dance back in his step after he lost Lew, and was a loving companion.
In 2015, Bill moved to Traverse City to be closer to family and lived under the watchful and loving care of the Arbor House Assisted Living. The family would like to sincerely thank all the caregivers who went the extra mile to make him feel comfortable and loved in the twilight of his life.
There will be a private family service at a later date. In lieu of flowers, Bill would be honored to have any memorial contributions made in his name to either the Father Fred Foundation or the Food Rescue of Northwest Michigan.
Please visit www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com to share your memories with the family.
Published on January 3, 2018