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.
JDRF Michigan Great Lakes Chapter
4595 Broadmoor Se
Grand Rapids, MI 49512
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned nearly a century, Elmer B. Ybema was a blessing to everyone he met. He will never be forgotten.
Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on September 17,1920, Elmer was the third of four children born to Seret and Irene Thomson Ybema as he had two brothers and one sister. His father came from the Province of Friesland, Netherlands. Raised in the family home in the Eastown area, Elmer attended Ottawa Hills High School, graduating in 1939. His lifelong love for fishing was born when he was a boy, and he often went with his brothers. He was always interested in sports and participated in many high school sports and activities. Elmer proudly served in the military as his plane’s navigator.
A hard worker, Elmer was self-employed as he owned and operated five restaurants in the Grand Rapids area including the Butterwagon Restaurant in the downtown Grand Rapids area. The Butterwagon was open 24 hours, and it became the meeting place for many Grand Rapids Police officers and other late night workers. Elmer was a hard worker and dedicated to his business, starting work at the restaurant at five a.m.
Life was forever changed for Elmer when he met the woman of his dreams. Her name was Barbara, and they met through her friend. They dated for some time and married on March 12, 1952. Barb brought a son and daughter into the marriage, and Elmer considered them as his own. They also welcomed their son, Daniel, together.
Throughout his life Elmer was a man of many interests. He loved big band music, was an avid reader, and after retiring he and Barb wintered in Florida for a month or two for years. Elmer learned to play golf in his early 30's and that was the majority of his enjoyment for the rest of his life. He enjoyed the game with his sons for many years. He was a long time member of Silver Lake Country Club and made several friends at the club. Elmer and Barb owned a cottage on Silver Lake that became their permanent residence. The home was next to the golf course so it was easy to play golf frequently which Elmer did, starting at 2:30 many afternoons.. Elmer’s favorite food was ice cream, although he also loved Barb’s homemade meatloaf and loved their annual tradition of blueberry picking. As his sons were involved in table tennis, Elmer enjoyed traveling with his family for tournaments.
Elmer Ybema was blessed with a long and good life, and he was a blessing to everyone he met.
Mr. Elmer B. Ybema, age 95, of Grand Rapids passed away on Sunday September 11, 2016 at his home surrounded by his family. Elmer was preceded in death by his parents, his son Michael R. Peterlein, his brother Ross Ybema, and his sister Emily Bolthouse. Elmer is survived by his wife of 64 years Barbara, his children Danial A. Ybema, Dale Ann (Patrick) Eaman, four grandchildren; four great grandsons; one great granddaughter; four step grand children; his brother Seret Ybema; and nieces and nephews. Elmer is known by many in the community for his many years of running and owning Otto’s Wagon, The Butterwagon Restaurants, and several other eating establishments around Grand Rapids. Elmer was an avid golfer, a long standing member at Silver Lake Country Club, active with his sons, in the Grand Rapids Table Tennis Community. Elmer proudly served his country in the United States Army Air Force as a navigator. A service to remember the life of Elmer will be held on Wednesday September 14, at 1:00 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505. Relatives and friends may visit with his family on Wednesday at the chapel from 11:30AM until the time of the service at 1PM. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made in memory of Elmer to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation www2.jdrf.org/goto/Ybema to further research and cure a disease that effects so many young children including his great grandson Evan England. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to leave a memory or to sign his guest book.