- About Us
Noel A. BlackMay 15, 1932 ~ October 11, 2017 (age 85)
Noel Ashley Black takes leave of this world in joy. He was born in Grand Rapids on May 15, 1932, the second son of Noel K. and Louise Ashley Black. Mr. Black graduated from East Grand Rapids High School and matriculated at Albion College, graduating in 1954 with a Bachelor of Arts (Economics), with minors in history and political science. He was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving as a clerk in the Surgeon’s Section of V Corps Headquarters, U. S. Army of Occupation in Germany until 1956. He was honorably discharged in 1961, following five years of Ready Reserve.
Following his separation in Germany, he supported himself as a clerk-typist in the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Air Force in Wiesbaden. The real purpose of his foreign separation was to pursue an interest in sports car competition as a member and officer of the Hesse Motor Sports Club. He was always modest about his outstanding record and ability to defeat faster, better-equipped drivers.
Finally becoming embarrassed that he was doing nothing useful, he returned to Grand Rapids in 1957, migrated to San Francisco, and wed Carla Rebagliati, a TWA hostess, on August 16, 1958, at Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco.
The family was transferred to Santa Rosa in 1962, where they remained until 1968. Mr. Black held a series of jobs, not positions, each lasting around two years. As a result of active participation in volunteer politics, Mr. Black was appointed to a position, not a job, in Sacramento by Governor Ronald Reagan. It became clear after two years that politics is fitted only to permit the power-hungry a vehicle for their desires. Finally, the desire to escape the craziness of California and raise straight kids led the family to move to Grand Rapids in 1970 where he joined Amway Corporation. At that time Amway’s sales plan was under fire in many states. Mr. Black undertook the task of lobbying many state legislatures to assure that Amway remained out of the line of fire. He was appointed public spokesman for the owners, and as the business grew, became responsible for similar activities internationally as well as domestically. He resigned in 1984 and, on the strength of his international experience, joined Cascade Engineering, which grew into a delightful seven-year association.
When not working Mr. Black enjoyed sailing and participating in the occasional Chicago-Mackinac race. He had a decades-long commitment to students in the elementary schools of Grand Rapids. He often expressed the hope that his mentoring and tutoring contributed to building effective citizens who understood that each was a unique creation of God, that God had a plan for them, and their job was to live out that plan for themselves in their community. Therein lies success in this, our exile.
Mr. Black died peacefully at home on October 11, 2017. He is survived by his daughter Noelle (Richard) Divozzo and their children, John Paul, Sister Maria Michaela, osb (née Anna), Mary Sophia, and Dominic; his son Brian (Diane) Black and their children, Elizabeth, Michael (Clara), Sister Assumpta, osb (née Christiana), Brother John, o.carm., Cecilia, Emma, and Mary; his great granddaughters Lucy, Bridget, and Marie; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins--for all of whom Mr. Black expresses his love and promises his continuing prayers in the hereafter. He was preceded in death by his wife Carla and brother Roderick.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at noon on Saturday at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church where the family will receive visitors two hours before the Mass. A luncheon will follow. Private interment at Graceland Mausoleum at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to Holy Family Radio (2504 Ardmore SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506), the Benedictines of Mary (8005 NW 316th St., Gower, MO 64454), or the Wyoming Carmelites (PO Box 2747, Cody, WY 82414).