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Willard (Bill) E. Burkhardt III., of Grand Rapids, age 71, passed away on 01/16/2018 following a brief illness. He was the beloved and devoted son of June (Jenney) and Willard E. Burkhardt Jr. who predeceased him.
Bill was truly a wonderful man and a loving, loyal friend. All who knew him describe Bill as one of the nicest, kindest and most thoughtful men they ever knew. He was always polite, respectful, humble and honest. He was smart, well organized and detailed oriented. He had an amazing memory and took copious notes. With a twinkle in his eyes, Bill often sported a vintage Gatsby newsboy cap which made him look so dapper. He enjoyed all things vintage... books, records, radios, telephones. He enjoyed browsing through estate sales.
Bill graduated from East Grand Rapids High School and received his Bachelor’s Degree from Western Michigan University. Following college, he proudly served in the US Army and was a Viet Nam Veteran. He retired from the State of Michigan Department of Labor as a business representative for the MESC (Unemployment Agency).
Bill’s lifelong passion was his love of player pianos and player piano music rolls. He often said it was the “thrill of the hunt” to find a classic music roll and research its history. He was a true aficionado.
He was a staunch education advocate for those battling celiac disease. He served on an advisory panel to advance the production of more and tastier gluten free food products.
Bill will be forever and deeply missed by his very dear friends, John Carlson, Jim Benes, John Perschbacher, Floyd Everling, Patricia Sayles, Jane and Al Kula, Steve and Kim Smith, Sonia Speakman, Bonnie Garrison, LeRoy Barnett, Sue Ward, Jon Milan and countless others too numerous to name. He is also survived by special cousins, Carol Park, Paul Garter, and Michael Whalen all of Brunswick, Georgia, Jane Gerth of Portage, MI, and Jim Bowen of Grand Rapids, MI.
Cremation by Memorial Alternatives has taken place. Per Bill’s request, no formal funeral services will be held. However, to honor dear Bill, a gathering of family, friends, and neighbors will be held at a future date so all may share warm memories of him.
Those wishing to make a donation in Bill’s memory may consider the American Cancer Society, the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Humane Society of Kent County or the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).