Serving West Michigan Since 1899

Roscoe "Rock" Colingsworth

October 2, 1939 - March 11, 2017
Holland, MI



Saturday, March 25, 2017
2:00 PM EDT
First United Methodist Church
57 W 10th St
Holland, MI 49423
1 (616) 396-5205

Life Story / Obituary


Roscoe “Rock” Colingsworth was passionate about human rights, ecology, and international student exchange as a way to build a better world. A devoted Christian who would help anyone in need, he proudly gave of his time and resources without reserve. Rock’s life was richly blessed by the many relationships he nurtured over the years and he will be deeply missed.

In the year 1939, Lou Gehrig retired from the New York Yankees, the much-loved classic film, The Wizard of Oz held its Hollywood premiere, and the first commercial air flight crossed the Atlantic Ocean. In Madison, Wisconsin, Donald and Jane Fowler Colingsworth welcomed home their newborn son, Roscoe, born on October 2nd. His birth brought much happiness to the family home.

His father’s work as a research microbiologist at Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company relocated the young family to the Kalamazoo area where he was widely known for his success as the co-founder of Penicillin O. His mother, Jane, held a degree as a journalist and edited articles for a dairy publication before choosing to stay at home to raise, “Rocky”and his sister, Ellen. Known as opinionated, Jane gave everything she had into being a mother. It was her desire that her children were raised to appreciate reading, listening to classical music, and accepting people from other cultures. Ellen and Rock grew up with their parents hosting several international students over their growing years. No matter where Rock ventured later in life, a lingering whiff of fresh manure would bring him right back to fond memories of his original childhood home where he woke early to help clean the horse stalls before romping in the fields with Ellen.

Moving away from the farm by the age of twelve, Rock managed to keep himself entertained by riding his bike, playing croquet, or joining a game of Canasta with the neighborhood children who lived across the street. He became quite smitten with the eldest, a girl named Julia, who would become his junior high sweetheart! As a young adolescent, he was active in Boy Scouts and also played the trumpet in the school band. Rock and Julia continued their friendship into high school where they both enjoyed being members of the marching band and playing in the pit during high school musicals before going their separate ways.

Graduating with the Class of 1957 from Kalamazoo Central High School, Rock attended Alma College to pursue an interest in biology. It was there, he met a pretty gal who stole his heart, Mary Payne. They joined in marriage in 1963 before starting a family while Rock was working on his Masters at Central Michigan University. Later, Rock would venture to the University of Minnesota to pursue his PhD in aquatic biology. By now, they were a family of four, spending their summers living in a camper at the research station on Lake Itasca with their children, Don and Rachel.

Rock’s professional journey would land his young family in St. Louis where by then they had added Richard and Margaret to their growing family! When there was no longer adequate funding for the EPA, his work took on other creative pursuits. He would do whatever it took to make his family comfortable even if it meant taking on a job with Beatrice Foods for a short time in the whipped cream department! Eventually, Rock took a job selling computers, which meant making the long distance commute between Holland and Grand Rapids for many years to work at Hart and Cooley.

A few years after their marriage ended, his sister, Ellen suggested he reunite with his long time childhood friend and junior high prom date, Julia Hoopengardner. So, he gassed up his red Porsche and headed to Flint where the rest is history! In 2006, they joined together in an 1880's style wedding at Crossroads Village. That day, Rock warmly welcomed her four daughters, as well as five new grandchildren! Generous beyond measure, he was proud of each and every one of them!

Tracking waterfowl and enjoying evening sunsets stirred his lifelong love of nature. Those were probably the only activities that he held for relaxation, for the rest of Rock’s life was busy. Energetic by nature, he enjoyed singing in the choir, attending small groups; including Peace with Justice, helping in the kitchen with both the Senior Meals program and Tulip Time, and being an active member on a committee to bring a refugee family to his community. Rock also took great pride in working the soundboard and operating the lights at the church and was a regular liturgist. When the United Methodist Men had a fund-raising event, he put up for auction rides in his Porsche. Serving others gave him the greatest sense of satisfaction. When he had heard that the Cub Scouts were considering folding, he stepped up to lead! Drawing on his experiences as a youth, he and Julia also opened up their home to many international students over the years and worked to help place them with their involvement with the Greenheart International program. As part of this work, he and Julia enjoyed many years of traveling abroad visiting many places including, Greece.

A travel enthusiast, among his favorite destinations were Bryce and Zion Canyons, California, Hilton Head Island, a fishing trip to Canada, sailing on Lake Michigan and lodging at the royal Dundee Castle in Scotland. Yet nothing was more memorable to him than the time he spent with his family. A selfless man who lived life to the fullest, Rock leaves behind a rich collection of memories for all who knew and loved him.

Roscoe (Rock) Fowler Colingsworth, age 77, of Holland, finished his earthly journey on Saturday, March 11, 2017, after having suffered a cardiac arrest the previous Monday. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 25, at 2 p.m., with visitation the hour preceding, at First United Methodist Church in Holland.

Rock was a charter member of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Portage, and currently a very active member of Holland First United Methodist Church. It was of utmost importance to him to live out Jesus' commandment to love one another. He is survived by a large, dearly loved extended family, including wife, Julia Hoopengardner Colingsworth; sons, Don Colingsworth of Ferguson, Missouri and Rich (Laura) Colingsworth of Gobles; daughters, Rachel (Matthew Bradley) Colingsworth of Plainwell, Margaret (Mike) Reed of DeWitt, Marsha Crawford of DeWitt, Laura (Ross) Speiran of Waterford, Alisa Crawford of Holland, and Ann (Marvin Pinsuan) Goodfellow of Hopkins. He is also survived by sister, Ellen (Roger Mason) Colingsworth of Montrave, Scotland; sister-in-law, Sara (Bob) Rothschild; and brother-in-law, Tom (Gerry Girardi) Hoopengardner. He was very proud of his grandchildren, Alec, Michael, Creighton (Caitlin), Conor, Cate, Katie, Colton, Hannah, Owen, Will, Karl, Isaac, Rebecca, Eric, Charlie, Alix, Arianna, Corinne, great-grandaughter Stella; and nephews, Tarik (Pam) Haydar and Samir (Marisa) Haydar. He claimed as family international students Jimmy Lin, Alan Liu, Luke You, Simon He, Ray He, Bill Chen, and numerous other exchange students, as well as many special friends. Donations may be made to the Refugee Education Center, Sierra Club, Southern Poverty Law Center, or Kids Food Basket of Holland.