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Monte M. Czuhai
February 12, 1939 ~ January 23, 2024 (age 84) 84 Years Old
On January 23, 2024, we bid adieu to Monte M. Czuhai. Grand Rapids lost its unofficial social director. Monte's life was a vibrant mosaic of laughter and an endless love of connections with people. His knack for being recognized everywhere by former colleagues, parents, or students, made him a walking, talking directory of the city—and he was always adding to the rolodex.
Monte was born in Grand Rapids, MI, in 1939, the youngest of fifteen, to Michael and Scholastyka Czuhai. He was a gregarious student who loved reading, learning and athletics, setting several records in track and playing defensive and offensive back at Union High. After 1955 game footage was found, no one visiting the house could escape the question, “Hey, have you seen my touchdown?”
A lifelong career in education began with a BA from Western Michigan University and an MA from Michigan State University. Between semesters he worked at the Grand Rapids Rec Department, laying the foundation for his future role as a beloved science teacher at Fulton Middleton High and next at Kenowa Hills High and Junior High. He was a respected teacher and principal at Marne, Zinser, and opened Alpine Elementary. After 30 years of education he retired in 1993—the first time. He then became an adjunct professor at Grand Valley teaching classes and supervising students in the field. He then ran the teacher aid program training future teachers. He is remembered fondly by students for his patience and enthusiasm and by parents for his ability to diffuse and resolve any situation equitably with humor.
Monte was also a lifelong student and seeker. As an athlete and outdoorsman his love for football, tennis, hunting, and fishing was infectious. A voracious reader, crossword aficionado, and card shark, Monte knew how to infuse every moment with fun … and a creative choice of words.
As Santa, and alongside his wife Nanci as Mrs. Claus, Monte brought the magic of the holidays to family, friends, and the children's ward at St. Mary's Hospital. His laughter and spirit turned every holiday season into a celebration.
Let's not forget the legendary Friday festival parties! What started as casual get-togethers for Alpine Elementary faculty soon evolved into raucous celebrations, with the guest list growing to include other districts, friends, and family. Monte's knack for turning an ordinary day into an extraordinary memory, for everyone, was truly his special gift.
Monte Czuhai's life was a symphony of exploration, laughter, and connection. His memory will forever be a source of joy for those who had the privilege of sharing in his zest for life. We will miss his teasing and uninvited pontification, but we can all be sure that he had an amazing ride.
Many thanks to the Riverside Garden staff, residents, the train, all the helpful health and medical staff, all of our special friends, family, and his sister Anita.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday March 16 at the West Leonard Banquet Facility (K of C) at 1140 Muskegon Ave NW, Grand Rapids from 4-8pm. In lieu of flowers, donations to Kids’ Food Basket (kidsfoodbasket.org) or Kent County Humane Society (hswestmi.org) are encouraged.