Abraham Lincoln said, "I do the very best I know how, the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end". As a third generation funeral director, Craig learned from an early age to work hard and take care of the families you serve. His father, Vic Kleinheksel worked into his 80's and his grandfather, Julius came in to work every day well into his 90's! This philosophy has served them well with over 100 years in the funeral business.
Many have said that there are jobs with more regular hours and certainly ones that are more pleasant. Craig will quickly tell you that there are no jobs more fulfilling. He learned from his dad that the greatest achievements are those that help others. And when the earthly life of a loved one comes to an end, there's nothing more rewarding than helping the family honor the life that was lived and memorialize all the cherished memories.
Holland Public Schools, Ferris State College and Wayne State University prepared Craig well for the challenge of funeral service. When he and his wife, Dar, set the date for their wedding, he had no idea he would be taking his National Board Exams for Mortuary Science the day before in Detroit. He was a little late, but made it back in time for the rehearsal. They have been married 35 years and she has been his support both at home and at the funeral home working in the office for the past 20 years.
Craig and Dar have three children who have matured into caring, compassionate adults. Daughter, Cari, lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, Katie in Rochester Hills, Michigan and son, Cort and his wife Maggie in Nashville, Tennessee. With his busy schedule, he manages to devote time and service whenever possible. Craig is a lifelong member of First Reformed Church where he has served as both Deacon and Elder. He also volunteers his time in the "kitchen" for Wednesday night suppers and special holiday breakfasts. He served as president of Michigan Funeral Directors Association District #4, was a "Kids Hope" volunteer for many years and is a member of the Holland Area Chamber of Commerce. Getting out into the community is important to Craig. You may have seen him playing percussion for the American Legion Band, the Grand Rapids Symphonic Band or supporting various sporting events at Hope College.
Thomas Edison once said, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." While Craig occasionally puts on blue jeans, he does know owning a business is hard work. Craig does the work because he knows it's an opportunity to help people at a time when they need it the most. And he also had the world's best role models, his father and grandfather.
"Lord of our lives, our hope in death, we cannot listen to Taps without our souls stirring. Its plaintive notes are a prayer in music-of hope, of peace, of grief, of rest . . . Prepare us too, Lord, for our final bugle call when you summon us home! When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and death will be no more."
From the invocation delivered by Chaplin (Colonel) Edward Brogan (USAF, Ret.) at the Taps Exhibit Opening Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, 28 May 1999.
Of all the bugle calls, none is more familiar or unforgettable than the sound of Taps. Played slowly and softly it has a smooth, tender and touching character-24 notes of deep emotion. The same tender, touching character and deep emotion is found in one particular man who has played those 24 eloquent notes countless times and considered it an honor each and every time.
It was the burgemeester of Ommen in the Netherlands who said to Victor, "After church I want to show you where you're from". . . . and thus began the history of a life story that continued on to the new world, first in Overisel and now in Holland.
Vic's father, Julius Kleinheksel, had a shop in Overisel where he did horseshoeing, anvil work, sharpened plowshares, and sold Star automobiles when they first came out. He saw an opportunity to better himself and moved to downtown Holland to work for Mr. Dykstra at the funeral home on 9th St. to maintain the "fleet" of automobiles (a car and a funeral coach-one of the first in west Michigan). Julius liked the work, studied mortuary science and became a licensed funeral director. Eventually he bought the business and brought his three sons into it, too. Julius did the embalming, Vic and Carrow (who died in 1997) conducted funerals, and Randy did the bookkeeping. Ambulance work was a big part of the business when Vic started and along with his father and his brothers they provided that service to the community for years, and at no charge. Today they have three funeral home locations in addition to the original downtown chapel and the name Kleinheksel has become synonymous with Dykstra Funeral Homes.
Victor was the first of three sons of Julius and Serena Kleinheksel. He grew up right next door to the downtown funeral home. Home, church, school, and shopping were all within a block or two. As a boy, Victor walked through Centennial Park to get to school. Books, paper, and pencils weren't the only things he carried back and forth to school-his music teacher had him pack a cornet, too. Victor learned to play the cornet, and later the trumpet, when he was in fourth grade and he has played ever since. In high school he played in both band and orchestra and was part of a trumpet trio that won a 1st division rating from William D. Revelli two years in a row. To be awarded a 1st division rating from Mr. Revelli, who built the University of Michigan Band as we know it today, was unheard of. To win it two years in a row was thought to be impossible. It didn't hurt, though, that Victor's trumpet teacher, Everett Kissenger, played 1st chair trumpet at the U of M for four years.
After high school Vic went to Hope College and then Wayne State University for his Mortuary Science degree. Vic received his license to practice mortuary science in 1953 and was honored for 50 yrs. of dedication to funeral service by the Michigan Funeral Directors Association at their 2003 convention.
One of the many things Victor is known for is the playing of Taps at military funerals and ceremonies. He began playing Taps when he was in high school and continued doing so for 60 years whenever he was called upon. Victor was always willing and always did it gratis; to him it was a privilege. Vic has been a member of Holland's American Legion Band, the oldest American Legion Band in the country, for 54 years and in all that time has only missed marching in two Tulip Time parades.
As a young musician Victor often played for church services and other events. Whenever he needed an accompanist there was a beautiful young gal by the name of Dorothy Boss who played piano and was happy to accompany him. They met at First Reformed Church and soon found that they not only liked making music together but enjoyed each other's company as well. The romance led to love and marriage and to the building of a beautiful family. Vic and Dorothy have been blessed with three children, Con, Julie, and Craig, and ten wonderful grandchildren. First Reformed Church continues to be a big part of Vic and Dorothy's life today as Dorothy taught Sunday school for 40 years and Victor has served as a Deacon and Elder.
All the families Victor has served over the years and all his colleagues in funeral service know Victor's commitment to his work is special. It's special because it comes from deep inside his heart. He is devoted to funeral service, to helping people, and to seeing that every detail of every funeral is carried out to perfection. He knows each life is significant, needs to be honored, and deserves to be celebrated; that faith, hope, and love are handed down from generation to generation in the cherished recollections of a life story. Victor Kleinheksel's dedication to funeral service is the same as his dedication to those 24 eloquent notes of Taps-his work and the notes will stop someday, but the echo of both will remain forever.
Dan was born and raised in Zeeland, the son of Norm and Bonnie Vredeveld. Dan graduated from Zeeland High School in 1981. He and his wife, the former Dee Dee Hofmeyer (Holland High School 1984), were married in 1989. They have two children, a son Kuri, who is Senior at Zeeland East High School and a daughter Kaci, who is in the 5th grade at Lincoln Elementary. Dan and Dee Dee keep very busy, watching and supporting both Kuri’s golfing and Kaci’s dancing. They are members of Faith Reformed Church in Zeeland and former members of Trinity Reformed Church in Holland. Dan enjoys traveling, camping, and watching sports (especially NASCAR) in his free time.
Dan knew in 9th grade that he wanted to be a funeral director. He wanted to help people. So he went right from high school to Grand Rapids Junior College (1983) for his pre-mortuary science courses and then to Wayne State University (1984). He served his apprenticeship at a funeral home in Grand Rapids and quickly found his way back home. Dan joined the Dykstra staff in 1985 and is a true professional at helping families through a difficult time. He knows what it's like to experience the loss of a loved one. His sister, Kim, died of Leukemia (1971), when Dan was just eight years old; and Dan and Dee Dee's daughter, Kylie, was stillborn on Memorial Day, 1997.
Family, community, church, and organization. Dan does it all and takes great pride in each. When it comes to funeral service, though, he's all about helping people. The famous statement from Maya Angelou certainly applies to Dan: "If you find it in your heart to care for someone else, you will have succeeded".
Life can be like a quarry, out of which we mold and chisel and build character. And no community does it quite like Holland. Tim was born and raised in Holland and attended Holland Christian Schools graduating in 1987. He liked sports and played soccer all through high school. In his senior year their soccer team won the State Championship.
When Tim was only 14 years old his dad died of cancer. The whole family was in his dad's room in the hospital after he died. Tim remembers going to Dykstra's Downtown Chapel and seeing his dad in the casket and then sitting in the front row at the funeral with his younger brother and sister.
Tim says he couldn't ask for a better mother to raise three kids without a father-that his mom's the most positive person he's ever met and that she was strong from day one after his father died. The funeral was on a Saturday and they all went to church as usual the next day. Having grandparents close by was great, too, with all the cooking and baking and always coffee together after church on Sundays.
Tim went to Calvin College, spent a semester in Spain, and was pursuing a political science curriculum when he met a gal named Amy Kuiper. Amy was a student at Calvin, too, and they met through a mutual friend. The friend enlisted Tim's help in fixing a flat tire on Amy's car. Amy wanted to thank Tim so she took him out for lunch-and the rest is history.
Amy's father and brother happened to be funeral directors in Grand Rapids. Tim started helping out around the funeral home when he was dating Amy and he says, "The first thing I knew I had a funeral suit!" Tim liked funeral work so much he let political science go by the wayside and decided to go to Mortuary College instead. After he and Amy were married they moved to Atlanta where Tim went to Gupton-Jones Mortuary College while Amy worked as a nurse. After graduating from mortuary school in 1994, they moved back to West Michigan to continue their careers in funeral service and nursing.
Tim and Amy have three children: Reed, Owen, and Natalie. They all attend Holland Christian Schools and the boys are involved in both soccer and lacrosse and Natalie plays soccer. The Valk’s are active members of Christ Memorial Church on Holland’s south side. In his spare time, Tim plays soccer in a coed league in Holland and is a Red Wings hockey fan. He also likes boating on Lake Michigan and being with family at the cottage on Lake Macatawa.
Tim knows the heartbreak of losing a loved one and he also knows the courage it takes to deal with it. He respects life and all that it means in the course of molding and chiseling and building character. He feels privileged to be able to serve the people of his community in their time of loss.
“My personal mission is to communicate with grieving families as if I’ve known them for years and now am in a position to guide and direct them.” Dave knows that at the end of life, families and friends need someone who openly and honestly shares the information that will guide their decisions about saying a final goodbye, about preserving their memories, about honoring the life that was lived.
Genuine communication is a gift. It requires listening, and caring, and honesty. Dave encompasses these values and puts them to work each day with every life lived, with each family and every friend. He does it in his personal life and he does at Dykstra Life Story Funeral Homes.
Dave grew up in Jenison, MI. He received a Bible-based, faith-increasing education at Unity Christian High School where the Christian faith and educational excellence go hand in hand. Today, Dave and his wife, Sue, are members of Central Wesleyan Church in Holland where Dave leads a care group with his wife who is also active in the church choir. One of the church’s mission statements, “To love and lead all people in life-changing worship,” suits Dave and Sue perfectly.
Dave and Sue live in West Olive. They have three married children, Nicole Lamain who lives in London, England with her husband Will; Erin Andrews who lives in Zeeland Township with her husband Aaron and daughter Farrah. Dave and Sue’s son Joshua (veteran of Iraq) lives in Holland Township with his wife Stephanie and their two daughter’s Kaylee and Emersyn. Dave hasn’t always been a funeral director. He worked for Prince Corporation (JCI) for 26 years, and then in 2001 began feeling a call to a ministry of serving people—no surprise given his God given desire for caring and serving others.
It seemed like a good time to explore some options and Dave did exactly that. In 2003 he began working at a local funeral home where he served his apprenticeship. Dave decided to go to mortuary college and in 2005 he graduated from the nationally acclaimed Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Wheeling, IL. Dave was given the Richard G. Reichle, Sr. Memorial Award for his academic Achievement in Restorative Arts. Dave received his National Board Certificate from The Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards of the United States and his license to practice in Michigan from the State Board of Examiners in Mortuary Science.
After graduating from Worsham and receiving his certification and license Dave began serving the community as a licensed funeral director and embalmer. In 2010 he was invited to join the team at Dykstra Life Story Funeral Home. Dave is deeply pleased and proud to serve with the Kleinheksel family and their staff and to be part of the Dykstra tradition of compassionate care, attention to detail, and the honoring of each and every life. Dykstra’s began over 100 years ago but today they proudly incorporate the latest in technology to honor and preserve life stories so they can be treasured and handed down from generation to generation.
Life takes many turns and often leads us to people and places we would never have thought about on our own. For Mike it led him to a wonderful career he never dreamed of. Mike grew up in Grand Blanc, MI, along with his two older brothers. He loved the outdoors and he loved sports, especially baseball and basketball. After graduation from Grand Blanc High School Mike went on to Central Michigan University to study wildlife and animal behavior.
While in college Mike was exposed to funeral work through his best friend, whose family owned a funeral home up north in Michigan. He spent a lot of weekends there hunting and fishing and he saw, too, what funeral service was all about. Mike liked what he saw.
So after earning his B.S. degree at CMU Mike went on to Mid-America College of Mortuary Science. In 1988 he received his National Board Certification from The Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards and his license to practice in Michigan from the State Board of Examiners in Mortuary Science. He took a job then as a funeral director at Dykstra Funeral Home in Holland, MI. Mike and Dykstra Funeral Home were a natural fit for each other from the very beginning and have enjoyed many years together serving families in their darkest hour.
Mike’s satisfaction from his work comes from following the Golden Rule—“Treating people the way I would want to be treated if I were in their shoes, always with compassion and respect”. He sees his role as a funeral director as leading them through a trying time and “just plain being there for them during and after the service.”
Mike and his wife, Heidi, who works for L. Perrigo Co., live in Holland with their son, Jeff, who is a freshman at Hope College, their daughter, Morgan, who is a sophomore at Holland High School, and their dog, Woody. Mike likes to spend his free time with his family at their cottage at Gun Lake. Fishing is his first love, then hunting. His favorite time alone is on the lake fishing. That’s what really recharges his batteries. Just like the twists and turns in Mike’s life, Mike knows that every life has a story. Helping families and their friends share their stories and say their final goodbyes at the end of life brings Mike great satisfaction.