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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Marvin Groce would agree that he was an extraordinary man to know and love. He was a man of honor, courage, and strength who gave everything he did his very best. It was no secret that Marvin was married to the love of his life, and together they experienced some of the best things that life has to offer. He faced trials to be sure, but he always found his way, even if it was on the road less traveled. A devoted husband and father, there was no greater gift in Marvin’s life than his family. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
The 1930s brought us the dark days of the Great Depression, but hope could still be found. Macy’s first Thanksgiving Day Parade was among our nation’s accomplishments, and with the completion of the Empire State Building, America’s strength shined. It was also during this time that Charles and Mary (Mayfleid) Groce were pleased to announce the birth of their baby boy they named Marvin Earl on February 16, 1938, in Flint, Michigan. The oldest of four, he was raised in the family home alongside his siblings, Mary Elizabeth, Frank Sr, and Bobbie Jean. Marvin was close to his brother while they were growing up as they both loved fishing. Marvin also enjoyed making model planes and cars as well as drawing and art.
In many ways, Marvin’s outstanding character was established during his formative years. He had a Flint Journal paper route and also worked at a couple of grocery stores. Marvin had an excellent role model in this regard as his mother was a true “Rosie the Riveter” who worked at the GM Plant during WWII. Growing up in Flint, Marvin attended local schools including Flint Northern Senior High School.
After graduating in 1959, Marvin was ready for the next phase in life. He went directly into the military, first the Air Force and later in the Army. He was a mechanic for helicopters and twin jet engine aircrafts prior to being a pilot. When Marvin joined the Army he went to warrant officer school and became a helicopter pilot. He was first stationed in Korea and did two tours in Vietnam. While in Vietnam Marvin got shrapnel in his leg while flying over hostile territory coming under fire on the way to pick up the wounded. For these actions he received the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Silver Star. Later he flew helicopters for the Coast Guard.
Life was forever changed for Marvin when he met the love of his life while stationed in Panama doing jungle training. Finding his soul mate was his life’s mission, and her name was Tiofila Casimira Albeo. After dating for three years, they were married in Panama in 1974. The very next day Marvin left for Fort Hood Texas, soon after they began their family. Together Marvin and his wife welcomed three children into their family, Doris, Gregory and America. He also had two other children prior, Marvin Jr. and Catherine. After three years in Fort Hood, Mavin retired and their family moved back to Flint. Since he found work and school in Kalamazoo after three months, they moved there. Marvin began working as a photographer at JC Penney. Later, he worked for Upjohn and Kellogg’s. Marvin also sold insurance, was a licensed private investigator and owned his own business, had his own photography company as well as Starlight Cab Company. His career didn’t end there as Marvin also started a cleaning company and had most recently wrote a fiction book, The Boys of Vietnam, about Vietnam, making him an author as well. It is clear that Marvin accomplished anything he set his mind to.
There was never anything that was more important to Marvin than his family. He was an outdoor lover, and he passed this love on to his kids. Marvin was a fishing enthusiast who also loved hunting and camping. There were countless camping trips for the kids to Grayling sand dunes, but they also camped across other states. Marvin loved taking the kids to the Kalamazoo Air Show for the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds. He taught his kids discipline, how to work hard, and also how to drive a car, usually in a grocery store parking lot when it wasn’t busy. He loved bowling and encouraged his kids to be on bowling leagues, and he also got them into birdwatching and archery. Marvin always had words of wisdom for his children such as not getting mad at themselves and to focus and try again. He was there for every game that his kids were a part of, usually with his camera in hand. In 1987, their family was given a tough pill to swallow when his wife and daughter were in Panama and ended up being stuck there for two years as they were in the middle of things when the United States invaded the nation. Marvin worked tirelessly to bring them home. Holidays were always a big deal including when Marvin would dress up for Halloween, and Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as every anniversary were all among their most precious family moments.
Over the years Marvin was a man of many interests. He enjoyed cooking and among their favorites were his BBQ ribs. Marvin was a self-made culinary artist who loved shopping for unique foods at various specialty shops including Boonzaaijer where they made high-quality cakes from the Netherlands. He also wanted the table set a certain way. Although he did enjoy entertaining guests with his food, it really was all about just being together with his family. Marvin enjoyed cheese and nuts, and he also liked his Maker’s Mark whiskey and bourbon. Marvin and his wife traveled to both Panama and Florida frequently, but they also had simple date nights on Tuesdays. Along with their breakfast dates at Theo and Stacys, they always said that these intentional times together were the key to a happy marriage. Marvin’s favorite saying for his wife was, “You and me together always,” and he would hold his two fingers together as one while saying it. Marvin enjoyed blues and jazz as well as Tina Turner and Michael Jackson. He would often play music after church while just enjoying some time with his wife. The proud owner of two beautiful cocker spaniels, Chelsea Girl and Princess Oreo XII. They quickly became his girls. Princes Oreo and Chelsea not only adored Marvin, they were also quite possessive of him.
With unending love for his family and friends, Marvin Groce made a significant impact in the lives of so many. He was generous, kind, and outgoing with a zest for life that was contagious to all who were near. Life will never be the same without Marvin here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
Marvin Earl Groce, age 82, died at his residence on Sunday, October 25, 2020 at 4PM. Marvin was preceded in death by his daughter, Catherine Elizabeth Groce. Surviving are his wife, Tiofila Casimira Groce; children: Marvin Earl Groce Jr. of Ft. Worth TX, Doris Judith (Zenoba Carl) Stuckey of Davenport FL, Gregory Angelo Groce of Kalamazoo, America Jasmin (Joseph Bell) Dyson of Holland; siblings Mary Elizabeth Lansdown, Frank Groce Sr, Bobbie Jean Greer. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. Private services will take place in the chapel at St. Augustine Cathedral and burial will take place at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to American Heart Association or Alzheimer's Foundation. Visit Marvin’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook. Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, 269-375-2900