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.
Trinity Reformed Church
1224 Davis NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Gerber Scout Camp Of The Gerald R Ford Council
1733 Owasippe Rd
, Twin Lake, MI, MI 49457-9
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Soaring high in the clouds enveloped in a blanket of blue sky is where Eric Verhaar loved to be and from a young age, he knew it was where he belonged. A gifted student, an intense tennis opponent, and a natural leader, Eric was just starting the exciting journey that lay before him until an uninvited tragedy snuffed out his future before it really began. It seems a bit unfair that some are granted many years with which to make their mark on the world and then others like Eric, are given so few, but even with fewer days, Eric’s touch was exceptionally far-reaching. His compassionate heart, generous spirit, and insatiable zest for life radiated to all those that were placed in his path.
The 1980s saw an explosion within the culture of our nation as video games, aerobics, minivans, camcorders, and talk shows became part of our lives. Kermit didn't find it easy to be green, ET phoned home, and some thought the eighties were totally awesome! Ron and Dianne (Dreyer) Verhaar were experiencing an exciting time of their own as they were eagerly anticipating the birth of their third child at any time. They were indeed blessed on October 11, 1986 with the healthy birth of their son, Eric James. Joining older sister Jennifer and older brother Kurt in the Verhaar clan, Eric showed a propensity toward adventure from an early age as his mother describes him as an “acrobatic” toddler that seemed to climb on everything in his sight. Eric suffered the typical bumps and bruises that make young boys so famous yet was never seriously injured, except the time he broke his arm playing “dark tag” on a church campout.
Even as a young boy, it was obvious that Eric was destined to go places, he was a bit of a rare gem right from the start. He was curious and would often wander off to explore on his own and could frequently be found in a tree he had climbed, even with his roller blades on! Eric began attending Boy Scouts in the first grade which nurtured Eric’s natural leadership qualities and provided him with lifelong friends as well. He continued on the path with the Boy Scouts which led Eric to become an Eagle Scout in 2004 and he was even the chief of his lodge too. Eric’s love for the Scouts also directed him to spend several summers working at Gerber Scout Camp, where Scouts experience a wide range of instruction and hands-on training in all the traditional camp activities. It was also during his formative years that Eric established a close friendship with his best friend, Jake Kosten; a special friendship which followed Eric throughout his entire lifetime.
As a student, Eric attended C A Frost School through the sixth grade and it was during his fifth grade year there, that Eric experienced a life-changing project. As a fifth grade student, a required project sent Eric on an airplane ride and from that moment on, he knew that he wanted to be involved in avionics and he especially had his sights set on being in the cockpit. With his avionics dream always in the forefront of his mind, Eric continued on in his studies and attended City High, located in downtown Grand Rapids, where he was an excellent student and was particularly acute in math. He was also active in sports including soccer, swimming, and track, and was even all-city in tennis as well. Eric loved the outdoors and enjoyed golf, backpacking with his friends, fishing, and hunting. For a time, Eric was deeply involved in gaming and would sit in front of the television and remain there until he had mastered that particular game. “James Bond” was one of his favorite games and he regularly challenged his brother or his friends to a game; a game which Eric usually won.
Faith was an important cornerstone in Eric’s life and he was an active member of his church, Trinity Reformed. He enjoyed participating both in youth group and peacemakers and after he was no longer of the age to participate, he volunteered his time as a helper with these groups as well. Eric also enjoyed the fun and fellowship of the church softball team every Tuesday, along with his dad and brother.
After Eric graduated from City High in 2005, his pursuit of his dream in avionics began as he went on to graduate from Western Michigan University Aviation College, with aircraft maintenance as his focus. His dream of becoming a pilot began to become a reality when just recently, Eric was measured and tested to become a Marine pilot and had expected to enter their program this next October.
There were traits and interests that attributed to making Eric the unique individual that his family and friends knew and loved. Even as a young boy, Eric hated the taste of mint and when he was younger, it was even a chore to brush his teeth as toothpaste is generally minty in taste. Due to his strong dislike for mint, Eric never chewed gum but he always had a bottle of Gatorade nearby. He enjoyed a juicy steak or a rack of ribs and was very proud of his orange Camaro and Jeep. Eric was very mechanically inclined, as were all the Verhaars and he loved listening to the Dave Matthews Band and various Christian Rock artists as well. Staying true to his adventurous spirit, Eric got heavily involved in paintball after high school and was a member of several organized leagues. He even traveled as far as Florida to compete!
Eric Verhaar didn’t just live each day, he embraced each day and made it his own, lacing each moment with vibrancy and zest and his dreams were as endless as the blue sky he was so passionate about. Those that were lucky enough to know Eric were blessed with his kind heart and adventurous spirit that was at times contagious to those around him. Eric was a talented athlete, a focused student, and a driven young man, yet of the greatest significance for Eric, were the Christian beliefs that were engraved upon his heart since he was a young boy.
Eric died in the early hours of May 15, 2009 as a result of a motorcyle accident. His life was so short-lived, but his impact on others was immeasurably significant. Eric leaves behind numerous memories which will be forever etched on the hearts of all who knew and loved him. He will be dearly missed.
Eric Verhaar of Grand Rapids died on May 15, 2009. Eric’s family includes his parents, Ronald “Pete” & Dianne Verhaar; siblings Jennifer (James) Bender and their son, Alexander, and Kurt Verhaar; grandmother, Jean Dreyer; many aunts, uncles, cousins, and special friend, Jake Kosten. A Celebration of his life will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday at Trinity Reformed Church, 1224 Davis NW. Friends may meet his family from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. on Monday at Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a memory or photo or make a memorial contribution to Trinity Reformed Church or Gerber Scout Camp c/o Gerald R. Ford Boy Scout Council.