Joel MacLean Smola, a courageous soul who touched the lives of many, lost his long and brave battle with Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID) on August 2nd, 2023, at U of M Hospital. Surrounded by his loving family and cherished friends, he peacefully passed away, leaving behind a legacy of strength and resilience.
Born in Kalamazoo, MI, on April 16th, 1992, Joel was the second of five siblings. He graduated from Mattawan High School in 2010, where he actively participated in the band, tennis, and bowling. His talent and dedication led him to become the #1 singles player in tennis during his senior year, earning the coveted MVP title for two consecutive years. Passionate about the sport, he shared his knowledge and enthusiasm by coaching tennis in Paw Paw.
Joel's heart belonged to the Vicksburg United Methodist Church, where he found solace and purpose. For years, he played the drums in the praise band and actively engaged in the youth group, spreading love and kindness among its members. He also served as a counselor at Wesley Woods Church Camp, leaving a lasting impact on the lives of the young campers.
Outside of his church activities, Joel had many hobbies that brought him joy. He had a fascination with fireworks and put on a spectacular show every 4th of July. He loved how his shows wowed his audience. He also immersed himself in trading card games like Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh!, finding camaraderie and fun in these shared activities. Joel's friendly nature made him a beloved online streamer with thousands of followers who admired his authenticity and genuine spirit.
During his life, Joel worked as a cook at Latitude 42, where he cherished the family-like atmosphere and the bonds he formed with his colleagues. He attended Kalamazoo Valley Community College, furthering his knowledge and skills. He frequently posted pictures on Facebook of his family’s Goldendoodle, Toby, with the caption ”my love”. He was an adoring uncle to nephews Wesley and Harrison, and niece Charlotte.
Joel is survived by his loving parents, Jim and Joan Smola, and his siblings Alan (Annalisa) Smola, William Smola, Scott Smola, and Meredith Smola. He also leaves behind his grandmother, Barbara Hosner.
Preceding him in death were his grandfather, Albert Hosner, and his grandparents, Ed and Dorothy Smola, as well as his cousin, Charlie Smola.
From a young age, Joel battled Evans syndrome, yet he never let his illnesses define him. He maintained a positive outlook on life, demonstrating remarkable strength in the face of adversity. Despite his internal health challenges, he remained happy, calm, and selfless, shining a light of hope and inspiration on everyone who knew him.
In memory of Joel MacLean Smola, let us celebrate his life, his unwavering spirit, and the love he shared with all those fortunate enough to cross his path. May his memory forever be a beacon of strength and love for us all.
Memorials made in Joel’s memory may be directed to the Immune Deficiency Foundation or the Vicksburg United Methodist Church. Envelopes are available at the funeral home.
Donations can also be made to the family by following the link below:
Joel will be laid to rest at Vicksburg Cemetery during a private committal service.
While at www.amsfuneralhomes.com please take time to sign Joel’s guestbook and/or share a memory with his family.
The Smola family is being cared for by the Avink, McCowen & Secord Funeral Homes and Cremation Society, 129 South Grand Street, Schoolcraft, MI 49087. 269-679-5622