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John Darwin “J.D.” Bale, age 75, of Grand Rapids, was called home to be with His Lord on Wednesday, January 12, 2022.


He was born on April 11, 1946, in Lakeview, MI to John & Nina (Moore) Bale.


J.D. graduated from Culver Military School and Lakeview High School – played the clarinet, active Boy Scout, lettered in Football and Track, participated in drama and student council, and was a member of the local bowling and baseball leagues.  He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1966 and was honorably discharged in 1969.  Airman Bale graduated training as an honor student, maintaining a 93% average; he reached the rank of Sergeant and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Air Force Good Conduct Medal as well as other accolades.


He attended Grand Rapids Junior College and Ferris State University.  John worked as a computer operator for Gantos, ending his employment with Calder City Taxi as a driver for over 20 years.  J.D. said being a taxi driver was the best job ever, meeting many different people, listening to anyone who wanted to talk, paying fares for those who couldn’t pay – evidence of his HUGE heart.  You wouldn’t hear J.D. say a bad word about anyone, he gave people the benefit of the doubt, a friend to everyone, spoke truth, loved unconditionally, shared everything he had – even if it was his last, and always smiled or shared his contagious laugh!


J.D. enjoyed spending time with family – telling great stories, jokes and sharing about his youth, reading, history, current events and talk radio, music, walking (he preferred walking when distance allowed), skiing, swimming, nature, zoo visits (never wanted to leave), bird watching, animals, gardens, caring for plants, library visits for hours, travel, socializing with everyone, eating out (leaving large tips), movies, family gatherings, Detroit Tigers and Lions, Michigan football and basketball (he got in great discussions with his sister-in-law regarding the MSU Spartans & Tigers as they watched  many games together), Zoom/phone calls and visits from family, receiving cards (that he read over and over), and eating…especially bananas, cherry Jello with bananas and marshmallows, chocolate pudding with marshmallows, croutons, homemade chocolate chip cookies and brownies, orange sherbet, pickled bologna and vanilla shakes.  During his stay at Medilodge-Portage, J.D. was in charge of picking out movies for the activities movie days, he was always their movie buff.  While living at his senior living facility, J.D. was the movie “coordinator” (a volunteer opportunity made just for him)!  He walked to the local library every week (regardless of the weather) to pick out the perfect movie he wanted to share with his friends (trying to please all) at Pine Oak Senior Living Apartments.  He would show the movie each Thursday for other residents who too enjoyed movies, eating movie snacks and socializing after.  He participated in weekly Sunday Church service and Bible study, and of course – socializing after and always asking the pastor many questions about the lesson or sermon he just heard (he always asked questions, so you had to  make sure you had your facts right).  J.D. would not attend Sunday dinner with his brother/family until church was done; J.D. took his time for the Lord, devotions and prayer serious.  His kind heart and generosity was evidence of that!


J.D. was a member of the Disabled American Veterans.


He is survived by Pamela Johnson (married 1966-1975), their awesome son Jon (Karen) Bale; and granddaughters Alison, Courtney and Brianna; brother David (who he called his best friend) and Sooky Bale; Nieces and Nephews:  Jacquie (Drain) and Tom DeJonge, David and Doris Drain, and Gary Drain; J. Scot and Monique Bale, Linda (Bale) and Patrick Hagan, Kris (Bale) and Alan Jones, Mark and Laura Bale; 18 great nieces and nephews, and 4 great-great nieces and nephews; and, many friends in Lakeview and Grand Rapids, Pine Oak Apartments and Medilodge – Portage.


He is preceded in death by his grandparents John Sr and Adelaide Bale, David and Emma Moore, parents John Jr and Nina Bale, and his loving sister Joann (Bale) and Richard “Dick” Drain.


Please join us Monday, January 24, 2022 at New Hope Baptist Church (130 Delaware St SW, Grand Rapids, MI) for a 10:30a visitation with family and friends and a 11:30a memorial service; you are also invited to attend his 2:30p full Air Force Military Honors burial at Fort Custer National Cemetery (15501 Dickman Rd, Augusta, MI), leaving directly from New Hope at the conclusion of the memorial service.  Masks completely covering mouth and nose are required at the church and burial site, thank you!


To send a message of sympathy to the family, sign J.D.’s online guest book, or to share a favorite memory, please visit:  Cards can be mailed to: Michigan Cremation & Funeral Care, c/o of John Bale, 3627 Linden Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49548 and the staff will forward your cards to the family.


J.D.’s family gives their deepest appreciation to the staff at Medilodge-Portage who took care of him, talked with him daily, allowed him to “hang-out” with you in the hallways or office and listened endlessly to his stories; and, especially to his nursing/support staff who cared for him so lovingly during his last week with us (holding a phone to his ear so family could talk to him, sitting bedside, holding his hand and talking to him when family was not able).  Thank you Pine Oak Apartments (staff, residents and pastoral volunteers) who welcomed J.D. like he was their own family.  Thank you Calder City Taxi for allowing J.D. to work with you for so many years – taking great care of him; finally, to everyone that supported his family in prayer and words of encouragement – THANK YOU!


Cremation arrangements are entrusted to Michigan Cremation & Funeral Care (Grand Rapids, 616.452.3006), honored providers of Veterans Funeral Care.  Thank you Brent and staff for your awesome care, support and so much attention to details!  In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation can be made to the DAV (online: or mail to:  DAV, PO Box 14301, Cincinnati OH 45250-0301)


Let the family know you care by sharing this tribute.

4 Condolences

  1. Dana Baird on January 22, 2022 at 9:50 am

    Prayers for the family of John Bale. He was one of my brother’s favorite friends throughout school in Lakeview. One of my memories was when Mick and John some how got a car into the school auditorium. One of their many adventures. John’s son is one of my son’s [Soren Brockdorf] best friends.

  2. Melissa Slachter (Mgr Pine Oak Apartments) on January 24, 2022 at 8:35 am

    John was a sweet man. While he stayed at Pine Oak Apartments, he was kind enough to run the movie activity. He was considerate to everyone’s wishes. As a younger manager, he enjoyed bringing up movies that I had never heard of that I should see. Sometimes I would surprise him, when I had already seen them. When he had to move to Medilodge, we had a hole that we could not fill. I chuckled when I was told he had been hanging out at the front desk like he had so often done at mine. We missed him. It is good to know his time after he left went well and that he is at peace now. There will always be a special place in my heart for John. To his family, it was a pleasure knowing John. We are sorry for your loss.

  3. Eli Bale on January 24, 2022 at 11:38 am

    I am very grateful to have gotten to know Uncle JD a little bit in these past few years. I wasn’t able to be around him many times, but the few times I was were pleasant and enjoyable. He had a smooth sense of humor that was easy-going and warm. He enjoyed engaging with people and hearing more. I was grateful to find an elder who was interested to hear what I had to say as a younger man. And I know he adored my younger siblings and cousins as well. Uncle JD, may Jesus give you a huge hug for us :)

  4. Koester Luann Winter on January 28, 2022 at 11:44 am

    As a child and teenager Spending our summers on Townline Lake, JD always seemed to have a real zest for life. I remember swimming to the raft and especially watching him waterski. Watching him use the ski jump and fly through the air before hitting the water again was always a thrill and made the rest of us want to learn how to do it too. My deepest sympathy to you all.

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