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December 9, 1948 ~ November 20, 2023 (age 74) 74 Years Old
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It is with profound sadness family and friends announce the untimely passing of Sydney “Syd” Caswell Baxter who passed away Monday, November 20, 2023, from complications of a stroke suffered in late July.
Born on December 9, 1948, the second child of Harry M. “Bud” and Arlene Baxter, Syd grew up in East Grand Rapids and attended East Grand Rapids High School, Class of 1967, and the University of Michigan where he was a member of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity.
Following graduation from the U of M in 1971, Syd moved to Aspen, Colorado where he lived and worked until 1981. During that time, he worked at the historic Hotel Jerome, taught middle school math, coached high school track, and owned and operated the Rocking Horse Bar.
In 1981, Syd returned to Grand Rapids to work at the family business, S.A. Morman and Company. In 1982, Syd met Mary Barkley in Grand Rapids; they fell in love and were married on October 14, 1983. Syd retired in 2011, taking an early retirement to spend more time with his beloved grandson, Willem Radosevich who suffered from and ultimately succumbed to an autoimmune disease (HLH) in 2012. In Willem’s memory, Syd raised a significant amount to fund Willem’s Discovery Place at YMCA Camp Manitou-Lin.
Family was all important to Syd. Following Willem’s death, Syd became even more involved in grandson Wyatt’s and granddaughter Lili’s lives, volunteering for many school events, taking them to Boyne City in summer and winter for vacations and skiing, and participating with them in mission work in the Dominican Republic. He further became a role model for them following the death of their father, Tom, while also being a great support to his daughter-in-law, Erin. Syd was always interested in what his nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends were up to and would always reach out to stay current with their lives. He was exceptional at listening and remembering the little details of those conversations and following up on them.
Syd’s life was emblematic of service to his community and beyond. He served on several boards over the years, including but not limited to, YMCA Camp Manitou-Lin, Grand Rapids YMCA Service Club (Run Thru the Rapids and White Elephant Sale), Heartside Ministry, and Michigan Delta Foundation. He volunteered with Young Life, Guiding Light, The Cord Group, and many other Grand Rapids organizations. He was also an active member of Keystone Community Church. Syd was the guy who always showed up and had an unbridled capacity to give. He selflessly gave his time and energy to so many causes in his self-appointed role as “Community Connector.”
An avid athlete, Syd continued skiing in Colorado and at Byone Mountain throughout his life. He loved to run, bike, hike, and really do anything that allowed him to be outdoors and meet new people. Most important of all to Syd, though, was his annual participation in the 300-mile bike ride for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in honor of his grandson, Willem.
Syd is survived by his wife of forty years, Mary Barkley Baxter; grandchildren, Wyatt and Liliana Radosevich; daughter-in-law, Erin Weston; sister, Peggy Baxter (Doug) Hoogerhyde; cousins, Bill (Diane) Baxter, Betsy Baxter and Dan (Suzanne) Baxter; many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Bud and Arlene; his stepson, Tom; his grandson, Willem; and by his older brother, Skip.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Syd’s memory may be made to YMCA Camp Manitou-Lin and Make-A-Wish Michigan.
A celebration of Syd’s life will be held later with an announcement in the Grand Rapids Press. In the meantime, let’s all follow Syd’s mantra, “Be nice.”