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Life Story / Obituary
Unconditional in his life, Gary L. Meyering was a man of integrity who gave his all in everything he did with an unwavering and optimistic demeanor. With faith as his guide, he accomplished much in life and loved abundantly. People were naturally drawn to him and Gary will be fondly remembered as a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, son, brother and friend to all who knew him.
With the end of World War II, American industry expanded to meet peacetime needs. There was growth everywhere, including families; the Baby Boom was underway. George and Annette (Heuker) Meyering of Grand Rapids, Michigan were having a “baby boom” of their own as they welcomed the birth of their son, Gary Lee, on September 21, 1953. The Meyering “boom” would continue making Gary the second of seven children: Al, Gary, Kathy, Mary, Paul, Ruth, and Sarah. His family nicknamed him “Mort.”
Gary led a typical childhood of the time growing up in the quiet town of Cutlerville, Michigan. Here, his father earned a living as a carpenter while his mother was a busy homemaker and seamstress. Of his siblings, Gary was the daredevil who got into his fair share of mischief. As children, they worked through the summer on muck farms and also at Heuker family farms in McBain. When it came to school, Gary was a bright student and worked hard at Cutlerville Christian School and South Christian High School, where he played baritone in the school band.
After graduating in 1971, Gary went on to attend Calvin College for a year. During this time, he and his high school sweetheart, Joanne Hutt, were also making plans for a future together. The two had met in Mr. Start’s government class in senior year of high school when Joanne moved to the area from New York. Their friendship blossomed into true love, and they were happily married on June 15, 1973, at Dutton Christian Reformed Church. After honeymooning in Virginia, the newlyweds settled into married life together in a home on Richmond Street and later Lincoln. Eventually, they bought a house on Gaynor NW, where they put down roots to raise a family.
Gary began working in concrete at the age of 14, learning while doing side jobs with his dad. He started his own business called Meyering Concrete in 1978. Although he worked hard to make his business succeed, there was nothing more valuable to him than his wife and four children: Andrea (1976), Randal (1978), Rick (1980) and Danielle (1983). Providing for his family was important to Gary and he sacrificed to do so with long tiring hours. He still had energy left for the kids though and he was their #1 fan at all their sporting events, not to mention the loudest with his distinct robust voice. His children have many fond memories of wrestling and rides on Dad’s strong back, and family camping trips. On their travels, Gary was known to ignore a traffic sign or two saying, “that’s for the other guy” or hightail it through a light he said was “pink.”
He gave everything he had to be a strong, kind father to his kids. By example, he taught them the things that matter in life, like working hard, serving others with generosity and sacrifice, and appreciating the simple things in life. Gary was more a man of action than words, but also liked to engage a good conversation on faith, politics, or current events.
Church was also an important part of Gary’s life. He and Joanne were longtime members of Westend Christian Reformed Church, and were also active in its sister church, Gold Avenue Ministries. Gary served as a Deacon and Elder and was active in various youth ministries of his congregation for many years. With a heart of a servant, he was always thinking of what he could do to help others. He regularly picked up members for church, and plowed the snow for widows. Gary would often go out in the winter and look for people in the ditch and help pull them out, never accepting any money in return because he firmly believed in “paying it forward.” He mentored kids in a local school through Kids Hope, and went out and mentored those in prison through the Criminal Justice Chaplaincy. Gary’s strong faith was a hallmark of his life, and his Christian commitment was always evident in the way he treated others.
Gary and Joanne’s life was busy and happy, and they remained committed through thick and thin. As their kids got older, they enjoyed taking more vacations together as a couple. Gary also devoted his time to taking mission trips to Guatemala, Dominican Republic and Mexico. His greatest joy, however, was spending cherished moments with his family. As the family grew through marriage and births, he loved his son-in-law Nate and daughters-in-law Liz and Shari as his own, and his grandkids Noelle, Micah, and Jairus were the apples of his eye. He loved to get down on the floor and play with them, in the most kind and gentlest way. The family affectionately called him the “silver back gorilla.”
In his leisure time, Gary was passionate about hunting and was competitive on the golf course and basketball court. He kept his mind sharp doing crossword puzzles and beating everyone at the game of Scrabble. He was also an avid reader of novels by Patterson, Koontz and Grisham. Gary loved music and whether listening to the “oldies”, blues, classic rock, or gospel hymns, he belted out the songs; in church, people sitting close could hear him singing beautiful harmony.
In October 2009, Gary was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer, and underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments for 17 months. With a strong, unwavering spirit, and a great sense of humor, he continued to work, play and spend precious time with his family. From family vacations and a wedding to welcoming the birth of a new grandson, Gary treasured every moment, knowing it was a true gift. Then, in February 2011, the pain became more difficult for him, though he endured with the constant love and support of his family, friends, and church community. Gary had so many visitors near the end that he jokingly said he was busier dying than when living. On Saturday, March 26, Gary was placed under hospice care and a day later was ushered into heaven surrounded by worship, prayers, and love.
Although Gary will be deeply missed, his legacy of faith, love and dedication leaves his loved ones with wonderful memories and a strong foundation in Christ to look to for comfort:
"This is what the LORD says — he who created you...he who formed you...'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’ ” (Isaiah 43)
Gary L. Meyering, age 57 of Grand Rapids, MI went to be with his Lord on Sunday, March 27, 2011, after an 18 month courageous journey with cancer. He is survived by his loving wife of 37 years, Joanne; his beloved children: Andrea (Nate) DeWard, Randal (Liz) Meyering, Rick (Shari) Meyering, and Danielle Meyering; the grandchildren he adored, Noelle, Micah and Jairus. Also surviving are his parents, George and Annette Meyering; siblings, Al (Mary) Meyering, Kathy Meyering, Mary (Mike) Dykema, Paul Meyering, Ruth (Jim) Deemter, and Sarah Ulrich; father and mother-in-law, Bill and Helen Hutt; sisters and brothers-in-law, Linda (Ev) VanderHeide, Kathy (Bernie) VanderHeide, Pat (John) Burgess, Arlene (Al) Jeurink, Dawn Meyering, and Warren Ulrich; and many nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of his Life will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, April 1, at his church, Westend Christian Reformed Church, 1015 Westend Street NW. Friends may visit with his family *AT THE CHURCH* from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30, and from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, March 31. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in his memory to Kids Hope of Westend Church or West Side Christian School. Please visit Gary’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you may share a memory, upload a photo and/or sign his online guestbook.