Life Story / Obituary
Never one to accept judgmental statements easily, David was known among his peers for having a good shoulder to lean on, often finding his own satisfaction in connecting with people who were struggling. Add to this special quality David’s humor, his tenderness, his willingness to defend those he loved, all while battling his own struggle with depression, and you have a remarkable life. David, in his own way, was an inspiration to those he loved and cared deeply about and will be lovingly remembered always.
Known for his fresh perspective on people, places, and things considered atypical, it is not surprising that David’s story begins in the turn of the new Millennium known as Y2K; the year 2000. Preparations for the summer Olympics to be held in Sydney, Australia were in full swing and pop culture had their focus on the debut of Big Brother while Harry Potter fans were in their glory with the release of The Goblet of Fire. David entered the world on the 14th of June in Grand Rapids, Michigan along with his twin sister, Annabelle and into the loving arms of his parents, Dr. Marcus Nolan and Sara Everhart Rhem. As a baby, David soaked up the attention of strangers with his sweet baby face and sparkling eyes.
Twins almost always have a unique bond and he and sister, Annabelle were no exception. David had a winning way to get her to smile and was always very protective of her. Both cunning and sweet, he and Annabelle created their own special game during naptime. David had managed to teach Annabelle how to climb out of her crib to grab the attention of their mother. Little did Sara know at the time it was their way of ensuring the comfort of having her present in the room while they slept. As a young child, David had an infectious joy about him. Daring almost from the start, he loved pushing the limits of his strength by climbing, jumping, swinging, and riding with boundless energy. Much to the amazement of the older boys, David was known to stand up on his saucer at the tender age of only five or six years old while drifting down the sledding hill! With a natural gift of boyhood wonder and a love of the outdoors, he held an uncanny ability to spot deer, eagles, turtles, or other wildlife as a young child.
From the very first time he tried on a pair of CCM skates, It seemed that he was born to play hockey. He ran around the store like they were merely shoes! He was proud to have strong ankles so he would never be labeled a “bender.” There was no doubt that hockey was his true passion and his teammates were like brothers to him. David’s innate protective nature showed in his play on the ice rink. Teammates always knew he had their backs, as he was never afraid to take on opponents even if it meant taking a few roughing penalties. The goalies were especially thankful for his abilities as a defenseman as they relied on his athletic prowess to defend the goal, and that he did.
In addition to hockey, David found a similar connection through the Lion Killers Christian brotherhood. He loved the spring retreats sitting around the campfire and going on hikes. Playful as well as strong, and he loved to challenge these men along with his father, Marc to wrestling matches because he knew he could easily pin them! He especially connected with Big Bro, Luke Mardigian who he looked up to with great admiration. The past two summers at Kanakuk camp in Missouri also held special meaning for David. It was here that he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. Incredibly fitting, at Kanakuk Camp this past summer, David’s peers awarded him, “Most-Christlike-in-Character,” a touching tribute to his exceptional ability to accept all others. David found he connected with others by challenging them to push their limits and try new things. Often he was the first to jump off the 30’ cliff into the water at camp leaving his pack behind and running headlong over the edge leaving those in his midst in amazement.
If it meant taking risks, David was all in! He found great pleasure in wakeboarding, longboarding, and snowboarding to recharge himself and loved spending time on his ORV aptly named, “Axel” after the US Navy Seal, Matt Axelson. As much as David held a fearless and tough persona, he also had a soft and sensitive side. He was especially tender with Sara, his “Momma,” his Gramma Gail, and Gaga Sharon. He never missed a chance to hug Sara and tell her he loved her. Both Sara and Marc felt lucky that even well into his teen years, he was never ashamed to openly show his love for them in public. Affectionate toward the family dogs, David often loved to get them wound up right before serving dinner or bedtime! Not especially fond of tense situations, he leaned on his natural sense of humor to share a wisecrack or a video to put everyone at ease.
David held many simple pleasures in life. Seeking solitude, David often climbed to a high spot, such as the roof, much to his mother’s chagrin. Music often gave him a sense of meaning. Eclectic in his musical taste, he enjoyed hip-hop, country western, and electronica. He found a similar feeling sharing movies with those he loved. Much like songs about overcoming struggle, action films like, Braveheart, Legends of the Fall, and Lone Survivor that particularly spoke of heroic struggle for freedom and loyalty were some of his favorites. David’s tight bearhugs and his insatiable laughter surely left a lasting impression and will tug at the heartstrings of all who knew and loved him forever.
David Thomas Rhem passed away unexpectedly on March 24, 2018. He was a junior at Okemos High School where he was an advocate for those on the Autism spectrum through his work with the Peer to Peer program and a three-year varsity letterman on the hockey team. He is survived by his loving parents, Dr. Marcus Nolan and Sara Everhart Rhem, twin sister, Annabelle, grandmother, Sharon J. Rhem (Phil Schultz); Aunt Shawn (Michael) Sieve; Uncle Samuel D. (Kathy) Rhem; cousins, Luke Sieve, Aaron Sieve, Maggie Ollander, Monica Ollander, and Lexi Rhem; and special Aunt, Sara Lee McPhillips. He is preceded in death by his grandfather, Samuel Dunn Rhem III, grandfather James William Everhart, Jr., grandmother Gail Mixon Everhart, and a special uncle, Honorable James G. (Robbie) Mixon.
The family would like to thank the many family and friends who surrounded them at Sparrow Hospital and the wonderful doctors and staff who cared for David and for his family as well. “In peace, I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalms 4:8 ESV). Services will be held at Riverview Church in Holt, Michigan on April 13, 2018, at 11 a.m. Immediately following, a luncheon in David’s honor will be served at the church. The family would love to greet guests during and just prior to the luncheon. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to made to Ele’s Place, 1145 W Oakland Ave, Lansing, MI 48915. Arrangements by Palmer Bush & Jensen Family Funeral Homes, Holt-Delhi Chapel.