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.
West Side Christian School Foundation
955 West End
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Upon seeing Dee Westenbroek, one could count on being greeted with a firm handshake. He was a hardworking and honorable man of his word who was well known and well respected by everyone who knew him. A devoted family man, Dee treasured his wife and children, but he just may have argued that being a grandfather was his greatest gift. It has been said that he had a big presence but a gentle personality as he was generous and giving beyond compare. Articulate and thoughtful in the things he said, Dee was genuine in the conversations he had and always had timeless wisdom to offer. Although he will be deeply missed, he will never be forgotten.
It was in 1931 that Clare Duane Westenbroek was born on October 8th, in Zeeland, Michigan. He was the older of two boys to be raised in the family home by his mother, Julia Hoeve. Since he always hated his first name, he hung on to his nickname, Dee, for the rest of his life. He and his brother, Ronald, were typical brothers who did lots of joking and laughing and remained good friends for the rest of his life. While Dee was still a young boy, they moved to a farm that was located in a small town just outside of Zeeland. This meant that Dee had his fair share of farm chores, which usually meant cleaning out the chicken coops. For the rest of his life, he never really did like chicken. He in fact Refused to eat it , fondly calling it Dead Chicken! In many ways, Dee was a typical young boy of his generation. He faced challenges, but he found success as a track and field athlete. Dee also played football as well as the tuba in the band.
After graduating from Wyoming Park High School, Dee entered the workforce. Although he was also very bright and excelled at math, college was just not an option since he needed to earn a living. Initially, Dee found work at Flowerland on 28th Street and later worked for a construction company. Eventually, he ended up at Wheeler Van until going to work for at Neals Truck parts for his father-in-law. Dee spent the next 30 years really learning the ins and outs of the business. He not only learned how all the parts worked together, but he also learned how things could be substituted as well as how to keep customers happy. Dee later started his own business, Dee's Parts Specialty. He ran his business without inventory and helped his customers find parts to suit their needs. People quickly learned that they could rely on Dee’s service, knowledge of the products, and how to find just what they were looking for. He kept that going until just this past January, and still receives calls now.
Life was forever changed for Dee when he met Luanne Versluis while rollerskating. They began dating and were married for 43 years. Together they raised their three daughters, Sandy, Judy, and Betsy, in a home on the Southeast side of Grand Rapids. They later moved to Kentwood. Dee was a hard worker, but when he returned home he was all there for his family. He could often be found roughhousing with his girls at night, and one could set their watch by dinnertime. All of Dee’s girls were left handed, He should have been, but was forced in school to use his right. Although he was a disciplinarian, he was also affectionate, fun-loving, and a jokester.
Although Dee was known for his strong work ethic, he also knew how to have a good time. Some of the family’s best memories were made at the family cottage on Lake Michigan where they lived during the summers. Over the years he had a sailboat and a motorboat, too. Dee did play golf every Saturday morning at 6:30, but starting early allowed him to be home to enjoy the majority of the day with his family. Dee put on quite the show for the Fourth of July as he pounded driveshafts into the sand to use as launchers for his wonderful display of fireworks! The Westenbroeks also enjoyed wintertime skiing.
Always one to be busy, Dee was a man of many interests. He was very active at church, serving as a deacon for years, and he also participated with the Lions Club. Social and outgoing, Dee enjoyed spending time with neighbors and friends, often playing cards, golfing, or going out to dinner. He made many friends atThe Stoney Inn, which is where he had lunch for years, and later at Red Hot Inn where he frequented for breakfast. Dee was a sports fan, particularly when it came to MSU football and basketball, the Detroit Lions, and the Detroit Tigers. When relaxing, Dee enjoyed watching sports on television and completing suduko and crossword puzzles.
Later in life, Dee continued to live fully in the moment. He loved being a grandfather, and he was an active part of his grandchildren’s lives. Dee was there to cheer them on in their sports and activities as much as he could be. He was thrilled to meet Dibby Thomasma through some mutual friends, and after falling in love, they were married on August 18, 1995, at Egypt Valley Country Club. Dee welcomed her four children and her grandchildren into his life. He and Dibby enjoyed golfing together - even becoming golf course raters for Michigan Golf Association. They frequently enjoyed spending time with family and friends, and he mastered the art of getting his grandchildren all riled up! Dee wanted to hear about everything going on in the lives of his grandchildren, and he always had a fun nickname for everyone.
An extraordinary man to know and love, Dee Westenbroek was a blessing to everyone he met. Things were always black and white, and he wasn’t afraid to share his opinion, either. Dee was a hardworking and strong man with simple mannerisms and a huge heart. He was the rock of his family who was deeply devoted to his wife, children, and grandchildren. Dee’s zest for life was contagious, and his courage was an inspiration. He will be forever missed.
Dee, beloved father, husband, grandfather, uncle, friend. He was preceeded in death by his mother, Julia Hoeve Boss, brother: Ronald (Mary Ann) Westenbroek, and daughter Sandra Lynn Westenbroek Molenhouse. He will be deeply missed by his beloved wife Elizabeth (Dibby Thomasma) Westenbroek; his daughters Judy (Dick) Lacks and Betsy Ehmann; stepchildren: Anne Thomasma, Jack (Bridgett) Thomasma, Meg (Tom) Wilson,Peter (Terri)Thomasma: 25 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren as well as numerous friends. He was hardworking and well thought of in the truck parts world: Neal’s Truck Parts, and Dee’s Parts Specialty. The service to remember and celebrate Dee's life will be held on Monday, August 24, 2015 at 1 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home -Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield NE where friends are invited to visit with his family on Sunday from 5-7 PM and on Monday from 12 Noon until the time of the service. His family encourages memorial donations to West Side Christian School. To read more about Dee's life, to share a favorite memory or to sign his guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com