Feb 13th 1931 - Feb 20th 2012
A man who wasn’t afraid to do things his own way, Delmer Dyer was a true character if ever there was one. He was easy going by nature and could play poker with the best of them, but perhaps it was his obsession with his lawn that made him such a unique guy. Delmer was a devoted father, but spoiling his grandchildren just may have been what he liked most about being a father to the five wonderful children he deeply cherished. No stranger to hard work he seemed to have farming and gardening in his blood and loved being outdoors no matter what he was doing. With a life that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want Delmer created a lifetime of precious moments shared with those he loved that will be a treasured gift for years to come.
The 1920s were a great time to be an American as our success in WWI ushered in a time that was predominantly prosperous throughout our great land. We enjoyed advancements in technology that changed our daily lives such as the invention of washing machine and the refrigerator while assembly lines made automobiles more affordable for the average American. We celebrated the successes of Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh in the world of air travel and with more than 500 commercial radio stations in service throughout the country, we were more connected with the world around us than ever before. It was just as this decade was coming to a close that a young couple family from Salyersville, Kentucky, was eagerly anticipating the birth of a new baby to love. Their wait was over on February 13, 1931, when their healthy baby boy was born. Delmer was the third of twelve children born to his parents, Oscar and Laura (Patton) Dyer, and was raised in the hills of Kentucky alongside his six sisters and five brothers during his earliest years. He helped his father make moonshine which his father ran, and both of Delmer’s parents were also tobacco farmers.
For the most part Delmer experienced a childhood that was reflective of the times. He attended local schools, but only through the fourth grade as he was needed on the farm instead. Later in life, Delmer purchased five homes including an organic farm on a lake. He also purchased a party store. One of the houses was brand new home but he didn't like it. He missed the farm so he moved to a farm in Gun Plain Township where he called home for nearly 30 years. Even with all of the moving, he kept his children in one school from start to finish.
During the years of the Great Depression when families did whatever they could in order to survive, he was 14 years old, he worked cutting cross ties for the railroad. At the age of 15 Delmer was hired by the railroad to lay track, but he ran in to a bit of a snag when he learned that he needed a social security number in order to work. Never one to get bogged down by the little things, Delmer simply made one up, and he went on to use this number for many years. Several years later the Social Security Administration became aware that there were actually two people using the same number and contacted Delmer. He went on to tell them the story of how he began using that number, and since the other person was deceased he was able to continue using that number.
While he was growing up Delmer’s family moved around a bit, finally landing in Michigan in the mid forties. As a young man Delmer was a soldier in the Army, but once he was discharged he hitchhiked back to Michigan.
Life was forever changed for Delmer when he met and later married a young lady named Maxine in 1954. Although they divorced in 1982, he was always grateful for the five children they shared: Diana, Dennis, Marty, Tammy, and Kendall. He was delighted during his later years when grandchildren began arriving. Altogether he had 14 grandchildren, and he took every opportunity to spoil them rotten.
Throughout his life Delmer worked in a variety of industries. His first work was on the farm and later for the railroad, but from there he went to Gibson Guitar. Over the years Delmer also worked on farms.
New and exciting changes were in store for Delmer when he met a woman named Deb who worked at a local produce stand. A few days after they met he called to ask her out, and they have been together ever since. They married on January 11, 2002, in Allegan.
Over the years Delmer was a man of many interests. He loved the outdoors, particularly hunting, fishing, and gardening. He also loved music. He learned to play a 5 string banjo as a boy in the hills of Kentucky. He later played the guitar and sang in several bands, including the Green Valley Jamboree Boys. He collected many Gibson guitars and loved them all. Delmer’s lawn was always the envy of all who saw it, but his family knew that if his lawn had a problem of some kind it was going to be a bad day for everyone. He loved dogs as well as his horses, mules, and other farm animals. Delmer loved to play poker and had amazing skills, too. He was a slick card player, and no one could ever read his poker face no matter how hard they tried. During his retirement years he had even more time to devote to his passions.
When Delmer Dyer was around life was always more interesting. He was fun to be with and liked to joke around, however, his friends and loved ones knew they better not get him mad. When Delmer loved, he loved deeply, and it was easy to see that his family was his greatest source of pride and joy. Life will never be the same without Delmer here, but the lives of many others will be forever changed because of his touch.
Delmer Dyer of Plainwell died on February 20, 2012, at his home. Delmer’s family includes his wife, Deb; his children: Diana Dyer, Dennis Dyer, Marty (Kerrie) Dyer, Tammy (Leroy) Guilford and Kendall (Connie) Dyer; 6 sisters and 5 brothers; 15 grandchildren; and 9 great grandchildren; several nieces and nephews. Delmer was preceded in death by his parents and brothers and sisters: Elmer, Denver, Ernie, Faye and Marie. A graveside funeral service will be held at Oak Hill Cemetery in Orangeville on Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Please visit Delmer’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a memory or photo and sign his memory book online. The family is being served by Life Story Funeral Home – Plainwell (685-5881).