Roger Wade Garst, age 92, passed away on July 19, 2021, while enjoying his TerraTrike on a beautiful summer day. He is preceded in death by his wife of nearly sixty years, Mary Anne Garst, daughters-in-law Judy and Lori, and grandson Scott David. He is survived by his sweetheart Geri Schultz, son Cameron Garst, daughter Tracy (Charlie) Flanders, sister Diana (Doug) Miller, granddaughters Megan (Johnny) Barlow, Becca (Darrin) Tape, and grandson Timothy (Whitney) Flanders, great-grandchildren Julia, Greyson, Jack, Jordan, Henry, Easton, Rosemary, nieces Michelle (Mike), Tammy (Bruce), Tricia (Rex), nephew Marc (Kim) and their families. Roger dedicated his life to God, family and community, living by his motto: “Love is All.”
Roger was born on April 27, 1929. He graduated from high school in Niles, MI, after breaking the record in the high hurdles. While serving in the Navy during the Korean conflict, he met Mary Anne Vail. They were engaged after eleven days of courtship and were married in 1951. They made many memories at the Naval base in Pensacola, Florida. They always said marriage was hard work, but their love for each other became the foundation of family bonds that would last for generations. Soon they welcomed their son Cameron and daughter Tracy. Meanwhile, Roger and Mary Anne completed their degrees at Western Michigan University.
For over fifty years he was a member of Second Congregational Church in Grand Rapids and joyfully participated in the church choir. Roger provided for his family by working as a Personnel Director at Guardsman and Rospatch. Motivated by a strong sense of justice and fairness, Roger helped negotiate benefits for employees and hire workers based on merit, not prejudice. He was also active in the Urban League and raised his children to appreciate values of love, respect and compassion.
Roger enjoyed the outdoors and birdwatching, participating for years with the National Audubon Society cataloging wildlife. He enjoyed his dogs and cats, playing golf and his long-time membership in Golden K Kiwanis of Grand Rapids.
After he became a grandfather, he continued his love and support by being present, with Mary Anne, at every birthday, sporting event, or concert that he was able, supporting the children on every step of their journey. Throughout his life he consistently practiced the values that he sought to teach.
Ten years ago, Mary Anne became ill, and he nursed and cared for her until the very end, providing an example to all husbands of faithfulness and tender love. As a widower, he spent some time in loneliness until he met his sweetheart Geri, with whom he formed a loving bond of companionship and laughter in their senior years. He surrounded Geri with the love and affection with which his heart had always overflowed. He lived to see his grandchildren get married and continued his loving care and support for his great-grandchildren.
He never stopped loving his family and enjoying his life with books, a dark beer, Tigers games and bike rides until the very end. He will be sorely missed, but he gave to all who knew him an example of loyalty, generosity and kindness.
A Memorial Service will be held at Second Congregational Church UCC, Grand Rapids, at 1:00 pm on Friday, July 30th, with refreshments following. Memorial contributions may be made in Roger’s name to Kiwanis Children’s Fund or Crash’s Landing. Words of sympathy may be expressed here on Roger's Tribute Wall.
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