Saturday, February 3, 2018
11:00 AM EST
Riverside Christian Reformed Church
604 Comstock Blvd NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Calvinist Cadet Corps Camporee Fund
1333 Alger SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49507
Life Story / Obituary
With a dry wit and an undauntable faith, Alfred “Al” Dykema lived a heart-centered life rich in family and community. With quiet confidence and a steadfast spirit, Al was a comfort to all. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Al humbly gave of his talents, time, and wisdom. Respected by many, Al will long be held as an inspiration to all who were blessed to know him.
1946 was a year marked by much celebration and hope. With the victorious end of World War II, families tuned into the celebratory tunes of Bing Crosby, Perry Como, and the Andrews Sisters, while children delighted in the debut of the slinky. While the nation relished in a renewed sense of peace and newfound hope, even greater promise for the future was celebrated by Al and Tannie (Decker) Dykema as they welcomed their son Alfred Jr. into their hearts and home on November 29 in Chicago, Illinois.
Named after his father, Al often went by “Junior” as a kid. The third of four children, Al enjoyed the good company of his older siblings Carol and Peter and his younger brother Wayne. Growing up in Roseland, Illinois, Al attended Roseland Christian School during his elementary and junior high days. He and his brothers shared a bedroom and even a bed for many years. Together, the three boys made an art of finding mischief when they weren’t fighting and wrestling. Al also found some mischief on his own. As Peter grew out of his lawn mowing and paper route, Al stepped in and took them over. Once a year the family traveled to North Dakota to visit Alfred Sr.’s family.
As a teen, Al attended Fenger High School where the woodshop classes he was keen to pursue were offered. An eager student, Al honed his trade and quickly found work at Englewood Stove after graduating from high school. He loved his work and felt privileged to learn more about his community as the job often took him to some very interesting neighborhoods.
In May of 1966, Al enlisted in the Navy’s Construction Battalion more commonly known as the Seabees. It was in the Seabees that Al continued to grow his skills while continuing to be of service to others; the Seabees “CAN DO!” philosophy was a natural fit for Al.
During one of his leaves, Al had the good fortune of meeting Lois Hommes when they were set up on a blind date. They spent their first date attending a ball game, seeing “My Fair Lady, and then going out for dinner. Soon Al and Lois were an official couple.
While away on his two tours in Vietnam, the couple continued their courtship via letters. During one of his leaves, Al proposed to Lois and they began their plans to marry soon after he arrived home for good. On July 26, 1969, the happy couple exchanged their vows in a wedding ceremony at her church, West Evergreen Christian Reformed Church. After marrying, Al and Lois moved up to the Great Lakes Naval Base for the last part of his duty.
Once Al completed his duty and was discharged from the Navy, he and Lois moved to Grand Rapids where his brother Peter was living. After three years of some short-term housing, they moved into what would become their longtime home on Coit Ave NE. Here they created the home where they lovingly raised their three children, Julie, Steve, and Paul.
Al was a humble and hardworking provider for his family. His work ethic was impeccable as evidenced by his diligent and faithful service. A talented woodworker, he worked on high-end office furniture and enjoyed the freedom of working with his hands just as his father had before him. For ten years Al worked at Conway Lumber Company before securing a job at Nucraft where he made his career for the next 32 years. At home, Al was an active and loving father. He was very involved in his children’s lives and particularly enjoyed taking them fishing and on fantastic vacations. The family traveled the United States from border to border and coast to coast, always camping along the way. The annual Camporee was a highlight as family vacations were usually planned three years ahead according to the location. Every vacation included stops at National Parks, and for many years, they used a canvas tent. It was only after the kids were grown and done with school that he and Lois upgraded to a travel trailer.
Rarely one to sit still for long, Al preferred to be busy. A natural born tinkerer, Al always had a project going. He also enjoyed the outdoors and was always up for a good walk. Driven to use his skills to help others, Al became involved in Calvinist Cadets Corps "Cadets" where he loved the opportunity to work with kids. He found great joy in teaching them to use their hands, grow their skills, make connections, and most importantly, teach them what it means to "Live for Jesus." Known by many as "Mr. Al," his heart for kids was evident in the number of lives he touched and inspired over the years. Al embodied his faith and proved a powerful role model for all of the youth he worked with over the years. In him, they witnessed a life centered in love and acceptance, forgiveness and faith, the gift of a quiet listening ear, an unwavering belief in people’s capacity for greatness, and a life graciously lived in service of the Lord. For over 42 years Al volunteered with Cadets. Al also volunteered locally with Riverside CRC, and volunteered with the Council, where he served in several roles through the years. Al looked forward to volunteering weekly at Feeding America, supplying food for underprivileged families, and monthly at Kids Food Basket where he helped prepare lunches for local school-aged children.
Through the years, Al enjoyed the adventures of traveling to all 50 states, catching Alaska in celebration of his 40th wedding anniversary with Lois, and Churchill, Manitoba for their 45th anniversary. Time on his bicycle, long walks, and woodworking fueled his spirit. He took great pleasure in crafting gifts for others. With tremendous skill and care, Al created amazing entertainment centers, a crib, a bassinet, and many tables and chairs. All infused with his love; they are priceless treasures for the lucky recipients.
For those who knew him best, it is easy to attest to Al’s love for his family. He relished in fatherhood and cherished the privilege and joys of being a grandfather. He unhesitatingly played with the grandchildren, getting down on the floor with them and playing at their level. He was their greatest encourager and biggest fan. In Al’s heart, children easily knew they were loved, safe, and enough. He always had enough belief and confidence in them, that when they couldn’t find it in themselves, they could easily borrow his and successfully push through life’s challenges.
Shortly after retiring in 2013, Al’s family began to notice obvious changes in Al’s behavior. Within two short years, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease which unfortunately progressed rapidly. While remaining physically strong, the disease gradually dominated his life. Soon the names of those he loved no longer came to his mind; however, there was no doubt he was aware that a special connection existed.
Clearly, the world feels less certain without Al’s gentle spirit, unshakeable faith, and steadfast presence. May it afford deep comfort to know that with each National Park we visit, hand we lend, child we inspire, and encouraging word we give, we are living Al’s legacy in our daily lives; and, in these ways, we will continue to keep his spark shining.
On Wednesday, January 31, 2018, Alfred “Al” Dykema, age 71, transitioned from “Living for Jesus” on earth to living with Jesus in heaven after a relatively brief battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Al strove to please his Lord and Savior in all that he did, glad-hearted and free. Al was preceded in death by his parents, Alfred and Tannie (Decker) Dykema. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Lois (Hommes), children Julie (Brian) Ilbrink, Steve (Robin) Dykema and Paul Dykema. He leaves behind his cherished grandchildren Nick, Elizabeth (“Biz”), Justin, Jared, Steven, Olivia, Colston, Brandon, Shannon, Rebekah, Emerson, and Sophia. He also leaves behind siblings Pete (Ann) Dykema, Carol (Bob) Muller, Wayne (Judy) Dykema, and in-laws George (Gayle) Hommes. Visitation with family will take place at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - VanStrien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield NE, Grand Rapids on Friday, February 2 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. A Celebration of Life service will take place on Saturday, February 3 at 11 a.m. at Riverside Christian Reformed Church at 604 Comstock, NE, Grand Rapids with additional family visitation one hour prior to the service. Presiding over the ceremony will be Rev. Ben Browneye and Rev. Ron Noorman. To celebrate Al’s service in Cadets, the family requests any active and former Cadets and Cadet Counselors wear their Cadet shirt to the ceremony. Honoring his wishes, cremation has taken place. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made to the Calvinist Cadet Corps Camporee Fund. The family would like to express their sincere gratitude to the staff at American House Sandalwood Memory Care and Spectrum Health Hospice for their love and tender care of Al and his family.