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.
Beaver Island Rural Health Center/Good Samaritan Fund
37304 King’s Hwy
Beaver Island, MI 49782
Ellen Welke Fund, ℅ Holy Cross Catholic Church
37860 King's Hwy
Beaver Island, MI 49782
Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Bruce Struik would agree that he was truly extraordinary. He was hardworking and active, a firm believer in giving everything your all, and generous beyond compare. Bruce was accepting of everyone, no matter how different, and he had a zest for life that was contagious. A devoted family man if ever there was one, it was easy to see that he adored his daughters, and becoming a grandfather was pretty special, too. Bruce loved the great outdoors and found Beaver Island to be the place that fed his soul. Although he accomplished so much of which to be proud, he was content in whatever life brought. Deeply loved, Bruce will be forever missed.
As WWII raged on overseas as the 1940s dawned, America was struggling to climb out of the hole of the Great Depression that covered our nation and much of the world throughout the entire decade of the 1930s. Despite the hardship around them, William and Alice (Zandbergen) Struik were pleased to announce the birth of Bruce Alyn on August 30, 1941. He was joined in his family by his older siblings, Margaret and Walter, and his younger brother, Richard. Bruce’s father purchased the General Store on the Southwest corner of Riley Street and 24th Avenue in Jamestown, and they lived above the store. Even after the death of Bruce’s father in 1951, the store remained in the family until it closed in 1968.
He enjoyed playing football and ice skating on the frozen pond behind the “Y,” and he attended Jamestown Elementary and then graduated from Hudsonville High School in 1960. He liked to boast that he single handedly started the now legendary Jamestown Memorial Day Parade. Holidays were spent with extended family, and summers often found them staying in a place on Green Lake. Bruce went on to Hope College for a year or two where he also played football. Following his time at Hope, Bruce went on a "soul searching" trip to Europe with friends. Later in life, he continued his education as he graduated from Western Michigan University with his bachelor’s degree in education in 1966. Bruce also frequently helped his mother around the grocery store.
Life was forever changed for Bruce when a young Hope College student named Sheryl came into Higher Horizons to volunteer as a Big Sister. He asked her out for coffee, and they soon found themselves in love. Just four months later, in January of 1970, Bruce proposed. On June 6, 1970, they were married at Third Reformed in Holland and then took a honeymoon in Williamsburg, Virginia. The newlyweds initially settled in Holland. When they were first married, Bruce ran the Higher Horizons/Big Brother Big Sister program in Holland. In 1974, Bruce and Sheryl moved back to Jamestown and returned to the General Store. Initially they had soup, salad, and sandwiches as well as an ice cream parlor. Over time, their fare changed to fine dining. An incredible cook himself, Bruce was the chef on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Diners had to pre-order and they allowed reservations only with no walk-in customers. In 1986, they sold the restaurant and moved to Grandville.
The joy of Bruce’s life was his two daughters, Marika and Libby. For a time he stayed home with the girls while Sheryl worked full-time. As a father, Bruce was deeply devoted to his girls and covered them with plenty of unconditional love. He taught his daughters important lessons such as to not worry about what they can’t control, to be true to themselves, and to never give up no matter what comes their way. Bruce stressed the importance of education and of continually learning new things and also to fight for the people and things you are passionate about.
Holidays were special times, and Christmas found them enjoying Chinese food; a family tradition. Another of Bruce's Christmas traditions was gifting everyone in the immediate family a chocolate first initial. Before Sheryl’s death in 1998, they enjoyed traveling to Orlando for spring break, trips to Beaver Island every summer, Thanksgiving trips to Chicago, Windsor, St. Louis and Indianapolis. After Sheryl died, Bruce, Marika, and Libby frequently traveled together. Among their destinations were Williamsburg, Virginia, Costa Rica, and a month long trip through Europe where they saw places like the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Sweden, and Norway. They even met their Struik ancestors! They also went to Key West, and Bruce visited Marika in New York City while she lived there.
Bruce truly made teaching his passion. He began teaching social studies at Zeeland High School in 1993 and from that point on he was very involved in the lives of his students. He was on the sidelines encouraging them at their sporting and creative arts events, and he even went a step further in making his students feel special. Bruce loved recognizing them on their birthdays with a cupcake and birthday card. He highly valued not only the education of his students, but their well being, too, and he never allowed the mistreatment of anyone in his classroom. Bruce was invested in the lives of his students and thought about them often, even following his retirement in 2003.
When reflecting on Bruce’s life, his love for Beaver Island is easy to see. In 1968 he purchased property there, and he built his own house with the help from various friends, too. Marika and Libby spent every summer there, and over time he spent as many as seven months a year there. Bruce loved just looking out over the lake, watching the freighters and boats, and he was also known for his driftwood creations with wood he found while walking the beach or gathering from the woods. Spending time with Bruce on Beaver Island became one of his grandson’s most precious memories. While on Beaver Island, he become involved in community events as well. Bruce created a stunning rock garden using rocks that he hauled himself, and he also used rocks to build the walls of the cottage.
Someone who lived an active lifestyle, Bruce was a man of many interests. He enjoyed reading - genres included thrillers, spy, and suspense novels, memoirs, and historical non fiction. He also enjoyed music of all kinds. In fact, Bruce was known for randomly singing song lyrics. He loved watching the news, reading the newspaper, and cheering on various Michigan sports teams. As a food lover, Bruce loved going to restaurants and trying new dishes, yet he also enjoyed the basics like a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit from McDonald’s and sharing fruit and old-fashioned donuts with his grandson. A gourmet cook in his own right, he was completely self-taught, but his dishes were known far and wide as he also won several awards for his dishes over the years. Bruce’s specialties included everything from soups to cheesecakes, and his grandson, Tripp, loved his cream of broccoli soup. Many in Grandville saw him out walking his five miles every day, and he also took to antiquing.
Described as a diverse, creative, and compassionate man, Bruce Struik was truly one of a kind. He had a great sense of humor with an insatiable thirst for learning new things. Talented in countless ways, Bruce was devoted to his family first and foremost, and although he had so many wonderful life experiences, it was sharing them with the ones he loved that made them extraordinary. He was a man of great strength and courage who fought hard until the end, and his warm and genuine demeanor drew others near with ease. Life will never be the same without Bruce here, but his timeless legacy will be proudly carried on by those who follow in his footsteps.
Mr. Bruce Struik died on Oct 15, 2015 in Traverse City with his daughters at his side.
Bruce Struik, 74, of Beaver Island and formerly of Grandville and Jamestown, passed away on October 15, 2015 after a nearly 20 year battle with cancer. He was preceded in death by his wife, Sheryl (Schellenberg); parents William and Alice; brother-in-law Ted Aalsburg; and brother, Walter Struik. Bruce is survived by his daughters, Marika (Adam) BeVier and Libby Struik; grandchildren, Addison, Montana, and Tripp; sister, Margaret Aalsburg; brother, Richard (Coryne) Struik; and many nieces and nephews. Bruce’s family owned and operated the General Store in Jamestown for many years. Bruce was also a high school teacher in Zeeland for 10 years. Bruce loved spending time with his family, being on Beaver Island, showing appreciation to others, working in his garden, making art out of driftwood, watching the freighters on Lake Michigan, sitting in his favorite chair, talking with people in the checkout lane, cooking delicious meals and desserts, traveling, reading, watching the news, five mile walks, wearing funny t-shirts and ties, doing things on the hour or the half hour, giving people nicknames, hauling rocks, and “junk shopping.” He will also be remembered for his sense of humor, being a dedicated father, positivity, compassion, and random one liners and anecdotes. The family would like to thank the many “guardian angels,” helpers, medical staff and others who, as he would often say, “have been so good to us.” A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 2 p.m. at Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW Grand Rapids, MI. His family will receive visitors from 1 p.m. until the time of the service. Per his wishes, his body was donated for medical research. Contributions in his memory may be made to Beaver Island Rural Health Center/Good Samaritan Fund, 37304 King’s Hwy, Beaver Island, MI 49782 or Ellen Welke Fund, ℅ Holy Catholic Church, Beaver Island MI 49782.
Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read his life story, archive a memory, photo, or sign the guestbook online.