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Arlen Edward Dove

July 9, 1949 - October 10, 2018
Grand Rapids, MI

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Friends of Grand Rapids Home for Veterans
PO Box 805
Grandville, MI 49468

St. Marks Episcopal Church
134 N. Division
Grand Rapids, MI
(616) 456-1684
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Life Story / Obituary


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There is no greater man than one who lives by his convictions and cherishes those entrusted to his care, and Arlen Dove was such a man. The foundation of his family, Arlen worked hard to provide for those he loved, and as their foundation, he led by way of example with integrity and unconditional love. A kind, generous man, Arlen served his Lord, family, church, community and country with all that he had. It was simply a joy to know and love Arlen, and for those who knew him best, he will be fondly remembered.

The end of World War II brought much prosperity to America well into the late 1940s. Moviegoers continued to enjoy flicks starring Rita Hayworth and Ingrid Bergman, and gangly crooner Frank Sinatra introduced his hit song, “New York, New York”. The new Buick Roadmaster was the shape of things to come for the auto industry, and the post-war baby boom was in full swing. Yet in the northern Michigan city of Alpena, Garnet and Edna (Stricker) Dove were happily welcoming the birth of their son, Arlen Edward into their arms on July 9, 1949.

Arlen was the youngest of four children, joining his older siblings, Eldon, Marylee and Richard. A child typical of his generation, he enjoyed boyhood adventures and especially loved ice fishing and small game hunting. He attended the local schools and from his earliest beginnings he was involved with the Boy Scouts, something he would remain active with for the next 60 years of his life. Always a hard worker, during high school Arlen worked at a shoe store and a paint store. During this time he also played on his high school basketball team before graduating from Alpena High School with the Class of 1967.

With the Vietnam War well underway, it was after high school in 1968, when Arlen felt the call to duty and joined the U.S. Army. He served on several bases in the U.S. as well as Germany and the Philippines. While stationed in Germany, Arlen was set-up on a date with a pretty Filipino woman by the name of Paz Bangi, and Arlen’s heart was never the same. They dated for a short time and on June 24, 1977, they were happily married in a local German courthouse. As fate would have it, Arlen was assigned to transfer a prisoner to the U.S. and was gone for the next week! For the next two years Arlen and his new bride made their home on base in Germany.

It was during their time in Germany when Arlen and Paz became the loving parents of their son, Edward. Having such a heart for the Boy Scouts, Arlen became a Boy Scout counselor for the children of American military personnel when in Germany. After moving back to the states, they lived on military bases in Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama and Texas in addition to those overseas in Germany, the Philippines and South Korea. While living on base in Hinesville, Georgia they welcomed the birth of their daughter, Heather.

Arlen and his comrades faced turbulent times while stationed in Germany as student protests, riots and racial tensions soared. He went out on patrols, guarded a nuclear depot and scoured the defensive line known as the Siegfried Line for unexploded ordinances left from WWII. During the time Arlen was stationed in South Korea he worked primarily in crime prevention and dealt with the black market. He was later transferred to the Philippines following the removal of dictator, Ferdinand Marcos where he worked very closely with Filipino families as a mentor in many areas of their lives. During his time at Ft. Hood in Texas Arlen oversaw the largest crime prevention unit in the military.

In 1988, Arlen and his family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan where for the next two years Arlen served as an Army recruiter on the North East side of town. Following his honorable discharge from the service and having settled well into their life in Grand Rapids, Arlen took a job with the U.S. Post Office. Arlen was involved in several military associations including The Veterans History Project and The Korean War Veterans Association. He served as a VFW District Chaplain and was a member of the VFW Cooties, a national honor degree membership association which supports the VFW National Home for Children and U.S. Veterans hospitals. A proud member of the Kent County Veterans Honor Guard, Arlen considered it an honor to perform military tributes and committals for deceased Veterans.

Arlen and Paz became members of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church where Arlen was quite involved in the church community and their homeless program, always volunteering his time and talents in numerous capacities whenever help was needed. One could easily say Arlen had a heart for his family, the military and others. When his son, Edward moved to Wheatland, Maryland and needed help, Arlen and Paz packed up and moved there for a time. While there Arlen heard of a youth program that was floundering and he stepped in to save it. Arlen would spend some of his remaining free time in Maryland frequenting the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and offering encouragement to wounded Veterans. Arlen also served for two years as a Kent County Deputy Sheriff. Dear to his heart, the local Filipino community was important to Arlen and his family, and together they helped numerous people attain US citizenship, visited with them, and Arlen even played the role of Santa during the Christmas holidays.

On Tuesdays Arlen would meet with friends at the Rainbow Grill in Grandville before heading to the VA Clinic on 56th Street where he served popcorn and always talked with the other Veterans. Each Tuesday evening he had VFW or Boy Scout meetings to attend, but Arlen was truly looking forward to Tuesday, October 16, 2018 when he was going to witness his grandson Elijah’s Eagle Scout ceremony. Involved in the lives of all his grandchildren, Arlen was always more than happy to attend their swim lessons, dance recitals, and various other activities. Afterward, he’d often take them out to Steak ‘n Shake for lunch, a passtime his grandchildren will always remember fondly. When it came to food, Arlen was a strict meat and potatoes kind of guy, and if he couldn’t have his meat and potatoes, the only thing that would do would be a good ole PB&J! He loved the old country crooners such as Hank Williams, George Jones and Loretta Lynn. During his free time he loved reading war, crime, detective and police novels. With his collection of coffee cups and beer steins, no one ever had a problem with finding a gift for Arlen. For many years, Arlen and Paz enjoyed spending their free time camping together throughout Michigan and other states with their travel trailer in tow.

Several weeks ago Arlen wasn’t feeling so well and was soon diagnosed with liver cancer which had already metastasized. Recognizing he wasn’t well, Arlen took one last camping trip with his beloved, Paz. After returning home, and feeling worse still, he was admitted to Metro Health Hospital and then later transferred to Mercy Health St. Mary’s where his health quickly diminished, and as little could be done, his family and many dear friends remained by his side.

One would be hard pressed to find a man more dedicated and with a servant’s heart such as Arlen Dove. A faith filled man and proud veteran, Arlen played by the rules and devoted his life to the service of others. He was ever proud of his son, Edward who followed in his footsteps serving in the U.S. Army for over 17 years. Arlen found in his family his greatest joy, and as a loving and dedicated husband, father, grandfather and friend to all who knew him, he will be missed and lovingly remembered, leaving behind a loving legacy of faith and commitment that will never be forgotten.

Mr. Arlen Edward Dove, aged, 69, passed away at Mercy Health St. Mary’s on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 with his loving family and friends at his side. He is survived by his loving wife of 41 years, Paz; his children, Edward Dove, Heather and Paul Berkenpas; grandchildren, Elijah and Dalynn Dove, Aiden, Ella and Adeline Berkenpas; sister, Marylee McDonald; brother, Eldon (Shirley) Dove; many nieces, nephews and friends. Arlen was an active and dedicated member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 134 N. Division Ave. where the service to celebrate his life will be held Monday, October 15, 2018, 11:00 am. Burial in Rosedale Memorial Park. Relatives and friends may meet his family on Sunday, 6-8 PM at Heritage Lifestory Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, and again at the church on Monday from 10:00 AM until the service begins at 11:00 AM. Contributions in his memory may be made to Friends of Grand Rapids Home for Veterans or St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. To read more about Arlen’s life, to sign his guest book and to leave your own memory of him, please visit his web page at www.lifestorynet.com.

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