GRANDVILLE, Mich. — Hundreds of people attended memorial services for Chris VanderSlice, principal of Grandville High School.
“It’s overwhelming to see the number of lives he touched and the impressions he made,” VanderSlice’s wife Tonya lamented. “God made him to be a fighter, and he fought up until the day he died.”
VanderSlice died after a four-year battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
VanderSlice was a very active principal at Grandville. He spent 17 years of his life as a teacher and administrator, coining the phrase “Got Grit” as a way to motivate his students.
“We have great kids and great families in Grandville, but we`re too nice sometimes and don`t have that tough edge that really I wanted to see from our kids and that was in athletics, that`s in academics. Just that don`t give up, don`t quit attitude,” VanderSlice told FOX 17’s Mike Avery before he died.
When he received his cancer diagnosis, it was time for VanderSlice to live his mantra.
“I can’t wimp out, I have to show that grit too,” VanderSlice said. “I’m doing my best to show that to the Grandville students and the Grandville community. That’s how you fight this battle: you have to have grit.”
“[He] showed grit. It takes true grit to get through life when life is hard,” said his oldest daughter, Hannah.
VanderSlice spoke highly of the Grandville community, who supported him throughout his four-year battle.
“People coming down to visit, other people just sending cards, people making meals for us back at home; it’s just amazing, “said VanderSlice. “I am continually grateful to the Grandville community, to our church community, and you know, we’ve had so many positives too when look back at it.”
VanderSlice leaves behind his wife and two daughters. His sister started a GoFundMe page for his family.