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Michael A. O'Toole Jr.
August 24, 1932 ~ January 9, 2024 (age 91) 91 Years Old
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Michael A. O’Toole, Jr., aged 91 of Grand Rapids, Michigan, passed away surrounded by his family on January 9, 2024. He leaves behind his loving and devoted wife of 65 years, Martha (Marty) M. O’Toole. He also leaves behind three daughters and their husbands: Erin O’Toole and Chuck Voellinger, Stacey O’Toole and Herb Tanner, and Michele and Jamie Twesten-O’Toole; and six adoring grandchildren: Abigail Reeves, Hannah Black, Tristan Tanner, Dylan Tanner, Megan Twesten-O’Toole, and Connor Twesten-O’Toole. He was preceded in death by his parents, Michael A. and Ethel O’Toole, Sr., and three siblings; and is survived by one brother, Ray O’Toole.
Michael served in the U.S. Navy from 1950 to 1954 as a third-class petty officer on the submarine U.S.S. Harder. This experience sparked his love of international travel and learning about other cultures, especially sampling ethnic foods. Following military service, Michael earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English Literature at Eastern Michigan University. More importantly, EMU is where he met the love of his life, Martha Mary Diegel. They were married on February 1, 1958.
Nothing was more important to Michael than his family. Michael was highly involved in the upbringing of his daughters and taught them to be strong, independent women. When grandchildren came along, he delighted in playing with and teasing them. As they grew older, he proudly supported all of their activities and educational endeavors. Most of all, he loved spending time with Marty, whether they were traveling the world or sitting quietly together reading. Michael kept the entire family connected over the past 16 years by hosting an annual summer reunion, which was always a joyful celebration for the family.
Michael was a dedicated and creative educator, starting his long career as a high school teacher followed by 28 years as an English professor at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan. He was also a proud member of the Michigan Education Association and served as a contract negotiator for the organization.
Sports gave Michael joy throughout his life. He played on recreational softball and volleyball teams and also enjoyed coaching both sports. Michael was an advocate for TItle IX and equal funding for women’s sports. He coached the women’s volleyball team at Schoolcraft College for many years and was named the conference Volleyball Coach of the Year twice. Two of his daughters participated in youth sports and he enthusiastically supported their volleyball and softball teams over the years. Michael was also a lifelong fan of the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions.
Michael loved choral music and Italian opera. He was a tenor in the Schubert Male Chorus in Grand Rapids for over 20 years and served as their music librarian. A highlight of his life was performing as a chorus member in the opera Turandot with the Detroit Opera. He was also an avid supporter of his daughters’ and grandchildren’s participation in band, orchestra, and choir.
Michael O’Toole was an unforgettable man who will be fondly remembered and deeply missed by family, friends, students, and many others with whom he crossed paths.
The family is truly grateful for all the care and compassion that Michael received from the staff at Fresenius Kidney Care, Rockford, Michigan.
The celebration of life service to honor Michael O’Toole will be held on Saturday, February 10, 2024, 11 A.M., at St. Jude Catholic Church, located at 1120 4 Mile Rd NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49525. Visitation with the family starts at 10:30 A.M. and a lunch reception will follow the service.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to the Arbor Day Foundation (https://www.arborday.org/).