Life Story / Obituary
Throughout his rich and rewarding life, David Vanderveen lived fully in each moment he was given while holding his loved ones near. He was known for his honesty and the way he was so conscientious, which made him the one so many went to for advice. A devoted family man, David was a loving father who worked hard to provide his children with the life he was never able to have himself. Frugally minded and resourceful, he was the sort of person who never let things go to waste. Life will never be the same without him here, but David leaves behind a timeless legacy that his love ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
The year 1929 is often recalled as the year that the historic crash of the stock market ushered in the harsh years of the Great Depression. Jobs became hard to come by, which left countless American families without homes and willing to move wherever the work could be found. It was just prior to this historic day that John and Mary (Vander Sys) Vanderveen were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named David Peter on July 5, 1929, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was the middle of three children, joining his older brother, John, and his younger sister, Helen, in the Vanderveen clan. David and his siblings were all five years apart. David has been described as a rambunctious child who liked going fishing with his Dad. He attended West Side Christian until the seventh grade when his family moved to a home on Fisk Street and David attended a school nearby. His family attended Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church. After graduating from Grand Rapids Christian High School, David went on to Grand Rapids Junior College and then went to an art school in Chicago.
Not to be forgotten during his years as a young man was David’s introduction to the woman of his dreams. Her name was Tillie Roeters, and they met at Christian High. Although her friends told her not to date David, perhaps because he was a bit of a smart aleck, true love won in the end as they were married on October 16, 1952, at her parents’ home. After a honeymoon spent at Niagara Falls, they returned to Grand Rapids where David worked with his brothers-in-law in the cement business. Together David and Tillie welcomed three girls including Mary, Sue, and Cherry, into their hearts and home. The Vanderveens moved to a home that David designed at 7381 Gratian Southeast and later moved to the place that he would call home, his dream house, for the rest of his life at 7479 Leonard, Northeast. As a family they enjoyed taking walks together, and they also regularly went for Sunday drives. Although David was strict as a father, it was their tradition that his young girls got on his back and played with his hair while he was lying on the floor watching the news. As a family they were members of Cascade CRC and then later Ada CRC, and David served as a deacon for years. He made sure that his children, and later his grandchildren went to Christian schools, and he was instrumental in getting Ada Christian School its first school bus. Most nights, David played some jazz on the piano right before bed, and it was important to him that his children had lessons for piano and other instruments. To support his family, he was a longtime executive for Stevens Advertising in Grand Rapids and had accounts for Amway, Michigan Wheel, and both Volkswagen and Mazda, among others. David was the one who came up with the name Cygnus for the Amway Grand Plaza, and he also designed the logo for the Christian Reformed Church.
A man of many interests, David was forever busy. He was always into music, primarily jazz but he also enjoyed classical and hymns as they reminded him of his father. David had a lifelong love for traveling and took trips out West, to Mexico, Europe, the Caribbean, Africa, and Israel, and they took the whole family to Europe for their 50th Anniversary. His favorite foods were hamburgers, hot dogs, and steak, and he had a sweet tooth, too, as he loved chocolate anything, root beer floats, his famous peanut butter fudge, and he always had a drawer full of candy. David was an avid golfer as he played most nights after work as well as on Saturdays, often with clients. He was an avid hunter who has deer, elk, and caribou to his name, but he even took down a grizzly bear. In addition, David fished all over the world, and he sometimes took his daughter.
All who knew David would agree he was truly extraordinary. He had a mind that was always going, and he was one of the wisest people around. David was a firm believer in being a man of integrity and honesty, and it showed in the way he lived his life. When he was once audited by the IRS it was discovered that they owed David $800! He always told his girls, “Don’t be a sheep, be your own person and do your own thing.” David was known for being frugal, spending and saving with purpose, and making wise investments. He always had a passion for architecture and design, and he enjoyed art including watercolor painting and working with photography with his family. During his later years David developed a passion for conservation and bird watching.
During his retirement years David continued to live fully. He entered into retirement in 1985 as he began noticing that he forgot small things and didn’t want that to affect his work. In 2000 he was diagnosed with dementia, but he was able to remain home with Tillie. In 2012 they moved to Clark Home for more care, and later, in 2015, his beloved wife died. For the last 6 months of his life, he lived at Sunrise Senior Care Center. He had a very dry sense of humor and a fun-loving personality. Although he accomplished much of which to be proud, David was a humble man of faith who lived to love and serve others. A devoted family man, he was so proud to witness his family tree blossom to include the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren he adored. He will be forever missed.
David P. Vanderveen, age 87 of Grand Rapids and formerly of Ada, went home to be with his Lord and Savior on August 9, 2016. He was preceded in death by his loving wife, Tillie; brother, John & Neva Vanderveen; and sister, Helen Vanderveen. David is survived by his children Mary & Tim Oele, Sue & Jim Droge, Cherry & Craig Talsma; grandchildren Joshua & Elizabeth Oele, Rachel & Gabe Hull, Heidi & Tim Lauger, Leah & Russ Lewandowski, Laura & Mike Cameron, David & Audrey Droge, Adam & Ginger Hollemans, Abigail & Mark Elenbaas; great grandchildren Anna, Isaac and Matthew Lauger, William and Samuel Cameron, Hudson and Sullivan Lewandowski, Lydia Elenbaas, Asher Hollemans and Arden Hollemans; sisters-in-law, Bernice Freeman, Wilma Roeters, and Jean DeHoog; as well as many nieces and nephews. A service to remember and celebrate David’s life will be held at 12:00 PM on Saturday, August 13, 2016 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes, 1833 Plainfield NE. where friends are invited to visit with his family from 11 AM until the time of the service. Interment in Findlay Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial donation to CRC World Missions. To read more about David's life, to share a memory or to sign his guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com.