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With great sorrow and bittersweet gratitude, the family of Valerie Jean Wheeler-Smith announce her passing. Surrounded by her husband and children, she is now in the hands of God, and no longer bound by the Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease that took her mind from us years ago.

Val was born in Lakeview, Michigan on March 11, 1955. She is the youngest and only daughter of Richard Glenn and Ethelyn Bernice “Bea” Wheeler. Val absolutely loved growing up with her 4 older brothers Jim, Brad, Ron, and Don and all of the fun hijinks that entailed. Together they gave her the tough, but fun personality that she carried throughout her life.

Her family moved to Grand Rapids in the fall of 1955 and Val graduated from Union High School in 1973. She married Robert Corcoran that same year and together they had 4 children Stacey, Brian, and twins Amanda and Scott. She was a very loving and devoted mom who was so proud of her children and all of their accomplishments. She taught them to work hard and love even harder. Her children were the spotlight in her life.

Val worked for D&W and Family Fare for 25 years, and as many patrons favorite bartender at the Our Tavern Bar for 20 years. You could often find her cheering or yelling for her favorite Detroit Red Wings Players, Michigan Football games, and NASCAR races.

After many years together Val married her soulmate Richard Smith in 2009 and became a stepmom to his twin boys Richard and Dominic Smith. Together they enjoyed spending time with their lake family in Trufant, going to Detroit Tiger’s and Michigan Football games, golfing, visiting the casino, dancing, and listening to Classic Rock. Their love for each other was a perfect match.

With the birth of her first grandchild her devotion and passion in life turned from Mom to “Nana”. Taylor, Callie, Jackson, Jordin, and Rose brought her an immense source of joy, laughter, and fun. Her time was her love language, and you would often find her playing outside, making messes, baking cookies, eating ice cream, and just being silly with them. She was looking forward to retiring and spending much more time with them all.

A strong foundation of family and faith was instilled early on in Val’s life through her parents Rich and Bea. She lovingly has passed those same values on to her next generation and will be greatly missed.

Val was preceded in death by her mother, Bea Wheeler in 2015. She is survived by her father, Richard G. Wheeler; her husband Richard Smith; her children Stacey and Abel Carpenter, Brian and Lisa Corcoran, Amanda and Johnny Combs, and Scott and Jenna Corcoran. Her stepsons Richard and Dominic Smith; her grandchildren Taylor Doyle, Jackson and Rose Corcoran, and Callie and Jordin Combs; her brothers Jim and Nanette Wheeler, Brad and Linda Wheeler, Ron and Sandra Wheeler, and Don Wheeler; along with several nieces and nephews.

Honoring her wishes cremation has taken place.

Family and friends are welcome to attend a Celebration of Her Life on Sunday May 7, 2023 from 2-6pm at the Grand Rapids Fire Fighters Hall 1930 Fuller Ave NE. Food and drinks will be provided.

Donations in Val’s honor can be given to the Alzheimer’s Association at

To send a message of sympathy to the family, please sign Val’s online guest book, or to share a favorite memory, please visit:

Cremation arrangements are entrusted to Michigan Cremation & Funeral Care, Grand Rapids, 616-452-3006.


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11 Condolences

  1. Pam Lavender on May 3, 2023 at 11:43 am

    I am so sorry to hear that Val has passed. She was a very delightful woman. I remember her as a young girl and woman. My condolences to the Wheeler family and her family. Sending my love to you Rich as it has to be very hard to lose a child. Much love sent your way.

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