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.
Oncology Nurse Reach Out Organization
145 Michigan Ave. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
To provide financial assistance for patience
at Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion
Life Story / Obituary
Creative, witty, and generous, Daniel H. Jonker lived a faith-centered life rich with family and friends. Dan was devoted to his family as well as a person who welcomed others just as they were. He worked without complaint to provide for those he loved and cherished the simple things in life like the splendor of the outdoors. A treasured friend to many, Dan will long be held in the hearts and memories of those who were blessed to share his life.
As war gave way to peace and civil rights became a dramatic force in U.S. history, 1952 marked a period of progress and optimism. With the birth of the Baby Boom generation, the focus was on hard work and affording our children a better life. The middle-class standard of living continued to grow and appeared to have no boundaries; it was a time of much hope. Nowhere was there greater cause to celebrate the possibilities of hope than in the Grand Rapids home of Henry A. and Margaret L. (Meyer) Jonker as they welcomed their third child, son, Daniel into their hearts and home on December 17, 1952.
Growing up in Grand Rapids in the 50s and 60s, Dan enjoyed the comforts of a typical childhood. The Jonker family was firmly rooted in their Christian faith, which they celebrated at Oakdale Christian Church and later, Riverside CRC. To support their family, Henry worked as a mailman. Margaret was a homemaker and worked for Wurzburg’s DepartmentStore, as well as Groskopf’s Luggage and Gifts. Their hard work afforded Dan the opportunity to attend Oakdale Christian Elementary and Christian High. It also created a firm foundation upon which Dan built the rest of his life.
Dan enjoyed the good company of his siblings:Shirley, Wayne, and Carol. Many days were spent riding his bicycle, playing ball, making forts, building with his Erector set, and hanging with friends. Dan also enjoyed visiting his grandparent’s farm in Byron Center as a young boy.
Dan’s first job was as a bagger at Daane’s Grocery Store. In time, he became Produce Department Manager. He later worked at Kenowa Auto Supply with his brother, but returned to Daane’s shortly afterto become their Produce Supervisor. In 1991, Dan began his career as Produce Supervisor for Steve DeYoung’s Big Top Market. Over the years, Dan’s co-workers and suppliers became like family, along with many regular customers who shopped at the store.
During his senior year of high school, Dan met the love of his life, 16-year-old Sue Wardell. The two met while attending a friend’s party. Immediately attracted, they began dating and realized they were meant for each other. Dan and Sue were married on October 4, 1974, at Blessed Sacrament Church and celebrated with a reception at Adrian’s Ramona Terrace and a honeymoon in Hawaii.
After returning home, Dan and Sue made their first home on Ontario Street where their family grew with the births of their three beautiful daughters: Carie in 1977, Kelly in 1979, and Katie in 1982. In 1984, the family moved to Jenison. Dan was a proud and devoted father to his girls. He relished in family camping throughout Michigan and taking trips out west and to Tennessee, Niagara Falls, and Disney.
From his very earliest days, Dan possessed a love of the outdoors. Dan could often be found walking the Ottawa County Parks he loved. He enjoyed kayaking Michigan’s waterways and hiking Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Bass fishing with his brother-in-law Dan was a treasured time. Dan’s favorite place to be was in his yard tending his plants and flowers; no one could grow flowers like Dan. He loved feeding and watching the birds outside. Few appreciated the wonder of God’s creations as deeply as Dan.
When not exploring the outdoors, Dan took pleasure in reading. He loved Robert Frost’s poetry, Zane Grey’s Westerns, and Patrick McManus’s satirical writings. Dan loved Northern Michigan and especially the UP, which contributed to his longtime subscription to the knee slapping, funny magazineknown as The Porcupine Press.
Without a doubt, Dan’s greatest joy came from his family. Whether playing card games with Sue and Wayne and Joyce, watching U of M football with Dan, vacationing with Tim and Carol, or celebrating the holidays, Dan was happiest when surrounded by family. He loved preparing food for others, especially: teenager’s delight, shipwreck, lasagna and carrot cake, as well as many soups. Dan was a master at comfort foods.
A man of many talents, Dan had a deep appreciation and interest in rustic furniture. He experimented with making various styles of wreathes, and especially enjoyed creating Christmas wreaths, which he often gave to family and friends. Christmas was a favorite time of year for Dan.
Dan’s ultimate heart’s delight came in the gift of his grandchildren. Dan thoroughly enjoyed playing with the kids and proudly attended their special events. Dan treasured being Hampie to the “bigs” (Ashlee, Alexis, and Carson) and Papa to the “littles” (Olivia, Amelia, Paxton, and Elliot). It was in the twinkle of each of their eyes that he clearly saw the glow of his legacy and the future of his dreams.
Dan and Sue attended Fair Haven Ministries in Jenison. A faithful follower of Jesus Christ, Dan consciously endeavored to embody the values of his faith. He loved unconditionally, practiced forgiveness, encouraged peace, and remained humble. His efforts to live life in service to others were evident in his willingness to do anything for anyone.
Last September, Dan was diagnosed with advanced Esophageal Cancer. At the time of his diagnosis, it was evident that the cancer had already spreadthroughout his body. Not one to go down without a fight, Dan bravely underwent extreme Chemotherapy treatments. Despite the grueling treatments and acuteness of the disease, Dan remained positive. He insisted on finding the blessings in each day and maintained his wonderful sense of humor. By doing so, Dan continued to be a powerful inspiration for all who were blessed to share his journey.
Last week, Dan moved to Trillium Woods, Faith Hospice. It was here, in the comfort of his family, that Dan died Thursday morning, August 17, 2017. Though the absence of Dan’s steadfast presence has left a sense of uncertainty and sadness, may it afford deep comfort to know that with each cast of the fishing line, long walk in the woods, beautiful flower noticed, or joke told, we continue to share the legacy of this good and faithful servant in our own daily lives.
Daniel H. “Dan” Jonker, aged 64 of Jenison, MI, went to be with his Lord, Thursday, August 17, 2017. He was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Margaret Jonker, his daughter, Kelly Jonker, brother Wayne Jonker and his in-laws, Bill and Mary Wardell. He leaves his wife of 42 years, Sue Jonker (Wardell); his children, Carie (Jason) Cummings and their children, Ashlee, Carson and Alexis, Katie (Drew) Willard and their Children, Olivia, Amelia and Elliot, Kelly’s son, Paxton; his sisters, Shirley (Dan) Lawton, Carol (Tim) Cartwright; sister-in-law, Joyce Jonker; other sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, Diana (Tom-dec.) Martin, Dan Wardell, Joe (Nancy) Wardell, Mary-dec. (Dan) Nyson, Ann (Lloyd) Seese, Patty (Mike) Smith, Sandy (Roger) Hamel, Clara Wardell; many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and many friends. A service to celebrate Dan’s Life will be held on Wednesday, August 23rd at 11:00 am at Resurrection Life Church, 5100 Ivanrest Ave. SW in Grandville. Friends and relatives can meet his family on Tuesday, Aug. 22 from 2-4 and 6-8 pm at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, and again at the church on Wednesday from 10:00 am until the service begins at 11:00 am. A special thank you to his Oncologist and the Staff of Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion for the love and care extended to Dan and his family these last few months. Contributions in Dan’s memory may be made to the Cancer and Hematology Center of West Michigan. To read more about Dan’s life, to leave your own memory of him and to sign his guest book, visit his web page at www.lifestorynet.com