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Life Story / Obituary
There was only one Bill Jansens, and with ways all his own, he delighted all with his easy going nature, giving heart and encouraging spirit. He was a man of integrity which was fueled by his faith and ever present compass in life, his Lord. Bill’s greatest joy was the family he was so devoted and dedicated, and those he was honored to call friend. Although gone from love’s embrace, Bill leaves numerous memories to be forever cherished.
A time of mixed blessings in the U.S., the year 1943 was filled with the perils of World War II at a time when the Great Depression was officially deemed over. Much was being done for the war effort as the nation came together during these tumultuous days of war, yet every nation was not as fortunate. For Peter and Jana Jansens, November 5, 1943, was a day filled with hope and promise amidst uncertain times when they lovingly welcomed the birth of their little boy, William into their arms.
The youngest of 18 children, William was born in the small village of 's Heer-Arendskerke in southwestern, Netherlands during World War II amongst much turmoil within the country. Rationing and the availability of goods dictated every day life, and the loss of independence in many ways left a country without a home. Young William’s family eventually departed their beloved homeland for better tomorrows. William was seven years old in 1950 when his family immigrated to the United States by boat to New York City, New York. His family settled in West Michigan where together they began life anew.
The Jansens made their home on a farm on the northeast side of Grand Rapids, Michigan in the Three Mile Road area. William’s father worked the farm and also sold technical farm equipment for a living while his mother remained at home as a busy homemaker. William adjusted well to his new surroundings as he and his family implemented their lives within their new community. During his youth William regularly went fishing with his brothers at Lamberton Lake and attended Creston Christian Elementary School. Raised in faith, William gleaned from his parents his early beliefs and values. He went on to attend Creston High School and worked to help support his family on the farm.
A likable young man, Bill made friends readily and easily with his good-natured ways. His life took on new meaning while out with friends when he met Dianne Westveer. A petite little thing, Bill was quite taken, and by the end of the evening the feeling was mutual. The two began dating which included Bill escorting Dianne to her high school homecoming and prom. On October 16, 1964, Bill and Dianne were united in marriage at Seventh Reformed Church before a congregation of family and friends.
Following their honeymoon to Niagara Falls, the newlyweds settled into a home on Eighth Avenue in nearby Grandville. Bill worked in tile installation and as a carpet layer by trade, a career he enjoyed for the rest of his days. Dianne worked in insurance until they welcomed the joy of children into their lives. Kelly came along in 1967; Kevin in 1969 and Kerry completed their family in 1973. They raised their children at 1345 Texas Street in Walker where they enjoyed making fond memories, especially during the holidays. Bill enjoyed their traditional home and lifestyle, and family was his top priority. As a father Bill lived by way of example. He was stern yet fair, and always loving. As members of Seventh Reformed Church, Bill was sure to attend twice on Sundays and made sure the kids were there on Wednesday nights. With quiet faith, he lived his walk through his kindness and generosity towards others. He never worked on Sundays, and one would be asking for trouble if they suggested it! He enjoyed time spent with family, especially on Sundays where he relished a big Sunday dinner and a relaxing Sunday nap.
Bill loved spending time at their cabin in Walhalla Shores. He and his family spent most of the summer months there motorcycling, fishing, tubing, and enjoying bonfires. In the fall the area provided good hunting, and in the winter great trails for snowmobiling. Bill was a big game hunter and did so throughout the U.S. and Canada. While the kids were younger, Bill enjoyed great times with Kevin and with friends on fishing trips to Canada. Very handy and quite skilled with his hands, Bill was always up for an adventure and in 2003 he purchased a summer place on Stone Ledge Lake. After completely gutting it and rebuilding, he and Dianne enjoyed their retirement home in the Cadillac area all year round. He and Dianne had a penchant for travel, too and together shared the best of times traveling with good friends, Roger and Karen to destinations all over the U.S., the Caribbean and cruises, as well.
Perhaps it was due to being raised in such a large family; always sharing, and learning to do without, but Bill was a minimalist. He didn’t “need” a lot of “things” to make him happy. Bill found wealth in little things. He absolutely loved all four seasons and everything about them. A “cash only” type of guy, he didn’t see the sense of buying something if the money wasn’t in hand. Bill saved all of his loose change in jars, and it paid off when he was able to use it as fun money for the family.
Unless someone didn’t know Bill well, he was most definitely a meat and potatoes man. He also had a huge sweet tooth. He loved any type of cookie, but oatmeal was his favorite. He never liked chocolate in his cookies, and to him, it was always cherry pie. Besides a peaceful Sunday afternoon nap, Bill found relaxing on the beach to be time well spent when he had the opportunity. When it came to music, his genre of choice was gospel and country by the likes of Tennessee Ernie Ford. He was an early riser, but had a fear of heights. Becoming a grandfather gave new meaning to Bill’s life. He loved spending time with his grandkids, attending their events and taking an interest in their lives.
Bill Jansens was a helper in every sense with his time and money. He often felt compelled to donate his god-given talents and trade without recognition, and he never hesitated in lending a helping hand when needed. His sense of adventure was to be admired, yet most importantly, it was his affectionate and generous nature that found him so well loved. Like a big bear, Bill was ever loving and kind, and his faith shown bright through his actions and genuine heart.
On September 27, Bill was involved in an auto accident returning home from Grand Rapids. He sadly passed away Wednesday, October 4 undergoing surgery. Although he will be deeply missed, Bill lived fully and completely at every opportunity with faith as his guide. The very heart of Bill continues in the lives of those he leaves behind.
Mr. William “Bill” Jansens aged 73, of Cadillac and formerly of Grand Rapids, passed away unexpectedly on October 4, 2017. Bill is survived by his loving wife of 53 years, Dianne; children, Kelly (Mark) Mensch, Kevin (Brenda) Jansens, and Kerry (Chad) Battle; grandchildren, Kristen, Brennan, Joslynn, Landon, and Cooper. He was the youngest of 18 children and is survived by his sisters, Corrie Baar, Jane Murphy, and Willie Warfield-Wever; brother, Mike Jansens; sister-in-law, Carol (Ralph) Hollander; many nieces, nephews, and cousins. The Funeral Service will be held at 11:00 AM on Monday, October 9, 2017 at Seventh Reformed Church, 950 Leonard St. NW Grand Rapids, MI. His family will receive friends from 2-4 and 6-8 PM on Sunday, October 8, 2017 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Contributions in Bill’s memory may be made to Right to Life of Michigan. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to share a favorite memory or photo of Bill and to sign his online guestbook.