Cornelius "Cory" Van Spronsen

July 8, 1931 - April 11, 2017
Grand Rapids, MI



Friday, April 14, 2017
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 453-8263
Driving Directions

Saturday, April 15, 2017
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT
Raaybrook Chapel
2121 Raybrook SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546


Saturday, April 15, 2017
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM EDT
Raybrook Chapel
2121 Raybrook SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546


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.

Holland Home Patient Assistance Fund
2121 Raybrook SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Autism Support of Kent County
POI Box 150348
Grand Rapids, MI 49515


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Cornelius Van Spronsen was a genuine, fun loving, and adventurous man. He lived his life devoted to his wife, Marian and was a proud father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Cory leaves behind a wonderful legacy of being a family man who sincerely loved each and every one of them. His warm collection of memories as well as his unique ability to connect with everyone he met, will be lovingly remembered by all who knew and loved him.

With banks still closing as a result of the Great Depression, mobster Al Capone locked away in Alcatraz, the completion of the Empire State Building, and during one of the greatest droughts in American history, Gerard and Cornelia (Vande Gutche) Van Spronsen welcomed their son, Cornelius born on July 8, 1931 in Allendale, Michigan. Born one of four children, his birth brought much hope and happiness to his parents during those challenging times.

Growing up primarily in the Allendale and Greenville area, Cory learned the value of a hard day’s work at an early age. His father was a factory worker who also ran a farm and Cory spent many of his childhood days completing farm chores and pitching in around the house as his mother, although a homemaker, also worked part time as a clerk. It seemed the work was never done. Farming life was very demanding, giving them little time to enjoy much of anything else. When the family did manage any time away during the summer months, they swam in a nearby lake. However, they much preferred to retreat to their favorite spot, Sugar Island, in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. Family time was important and they enjoyed many years up north making memories with many uncles, aunts, and cousins up until they were old enough to stay back and manage the farm. Cory’s mother was known to host the extended family for nearly every occasion, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas time. As a young adolescent, Cory and his friends were into the usual mischief. Once, they managed to get themselves trapped in a boxcar when one of them was being covered with the sand that was filling it! The train started to move and by the time they were able to free their friend and get off, they had a long, memorable walk back home! Thankfully, when he wasn’t out seeking adventure with that group of boys, the county fairs kept him plenty busy each summer.

In addition to the hard work of the farm, school had it’s challenges as well. After attending a rural, one-room schoolhouse with only twelve students, Cory’s high school experience started with a daily sixty-mile round trip journey to Grand Rapids. By the age of sixteen, he had grown tired of school and ran away from home seeking the life of a cowboy. When he reached as far west as Arizona and couldn’t find a suitable ranch, he looked up his Uncle Art who lived in Ripon, California. He lived with him for a short time while enrolled at Ripon Christian High School, just long enough for him to meet the woman of his dreams, Marian, and they dated several times before he returned to Michigan. Graduating high school with the Class of 1949, Cory was lucky enough to see Marian once again when he was at the registrar’s office at Calvin College, seven years later in Grand Rapids, Michigan! He had started there, but his coursework was interrupted when he served during the Korean War with the United States Army Air Force. Upon his return, his schooling was sadly interrupted once again when he lost his father in a car accident causing Cory to return home for a short time.

Staying in touch with Marian while he was away, the two of them were eager to share the rest of their lives together and joined in marriage at Calvin’s Seminary Chapel on the old Franklin campus on August 19, 1955. The happy couple honeymooned in the stunning Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Tahquamenon Falls area. By the time he earned his Bachelors in Education in 1961, they had three wonderful children underfoot! He enjoyed fatherhood and was a good provider. He modeled a faith-filled life where he instilled in each of his children his love of the Lord. Cory taught middle school for a number of years before purchasing a truck and driving for Van Eerden Trucking company. He also taught adolescents at Pine Rest and later worked with brain injured adults at Hope Network.

A hard worker his whole life, he didn’t need much to satisfy him. A simple man, he admired his 1950s vintage red Oldsmobile convertible and his most prized possession was a pocket watch and chain that had once been his father’s. Some of his favorite pastimes were reading and listening to music. He loved the old church hymns, the gospel music of the Gaithers, as well as country music. His favorite book collection held everything from spiritual guidance to anything aviation or the history of wars. When they wanted to enjoy a dinner out, they savored Red Lobster or the Bil-Mar restaurant overlooking Lake Michigan in Grand Haven. Cory loved all types of foods, especially fish, steak and Chinese. They had a deep love for travel and enjoyed many memorable trips over the years. When returning to California to visit Marian’s family, they often camped along the way. In retirement, they cherished their time in the states of North Carolina, Indiana, Tennessee, and Ohio visiting family. A highlight of their traveling goals was an adventurous trip to Israel! Described as having a strong faith, the ability to bring out the best in others, and a warm personality, Cory will be deeply missed for generations to come.

Cornelius Van Spronsen, aged 85 passed away Tuesday, April 11, 2017. He was preceded in death by his brother, Wesley, and brother-in-law, Ron Van Valkenburg. He is survived by his wife, Marian; his children Gerard Jan (GJ) and Michelle Van Spronsen, Yvonne and Glenn Visbeen, Richard and Linda Van Spronsen, Sandi and Dan Folkertsma; 15 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; his siblings Jerry and Joan Van Spronsen, Mary Ann Van Valkenburg, Larry and Jan Klomp, sister-in-law Joyce Van Spronsen and many nieces and nephews. Cory was a graduate of Calvin College, class of 1961, served in the United States Air Force during the Korean Conflict and had a multi-faceted career path that included a middle school teacher and semi-truck driver. He also taught at the adolescent school of Pine Rest and worked with brain injured adults at Hope Network. He was a longtime member of Madison Christian Reformed Church and served as an elder there as well as using his spiritual gifts to serve those who found themselves on the fringes of life. Funeral services will be held Saturday at 2 PM at the Chapel of Raybrook Manor, 2121 Raybrook SE with interment in Ada Twp. Cemetery. Friends may meet the family at Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. on Friday from 6-8PM and at the Chapel of Raybrook for one hour prior to the service. Memorial contributions to the Holland Home Patient Assistance Fund, 2121 Raybrook SE 49546 or Autism Support of Kent County, PO Box 150348, GR, MI 49515 would be appreciated. To share a favorite memory or photo of Cory and to sign his online guest book, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.