Monday, December 11, 2017
11:00 AM EST
Wood Brook Cathedral
1739 Providence Street NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
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.
Wood Brook Cathedral
1739 Providence Street NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Life Story / Obituary
Throughout his rich and rewarding life, Gerald “Jerry" Steimel was a man of honor, strength, and unwavering character that were such an inspiration. He was known for his strong work ethic and his ability to fix or repair nearly anything. Jerry was blessed to share the majority of his life with his best friend, and together they witnessed their family tree blossom to include numerous branches of loved ones they adored. He was giving and generous beyond compare - the sort of person who looked for a need so he could meet it in whatever way he could. Life will never be the same without Jerry here, but his family and friends will forever treasure the priceless collection of memories he leaves behind.
The 1930s in America were filled with great trial and tribulation as the entire decade was cloaked in the hardship of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and countless American families felt the stress and strain of the time. Despite the challenges around them, Albert Clement "Clem" and Marie (Priest) Steimel were able to shift their focus to a time of great joy in their lives as they welcomed the birth of the baby boy they named Gerald W. on August 5, 1933. He was the fourth of 10 children, being born in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In many ways, Jerry was a young boy of his generation. He was a good kid who was generally quiet. Their family attended St. Mary's Church, and Jerry went to school there as well. During the summer he often went back to the family farm in Sutton's Bay to help during the cherry harvest, instilling within him a strong work ethic. One of Jerry’s first jobs was helping at Mount Calvary Cemetery, and he also caddied and set pins at Cascade Country Club. When he was a bit older, Jerry got a job at John Widdicomb Furniture as this is where his dad and brother also worked. He went on to make a career there for 45 years, generally working as a lacquer finisher.
New and exciting changes were in store for Jerry when he met the woman of his dreams. Her name was Shirley Zylema, and they met at the roller rink by Ramona Park. They dated for about five years, but during this time Jerry was called to serve in the Army during the Korean Conflict. He completed his training at Fort Knox and then served in Europe. Jerry and Shirley remained in touch, faithfully writing letters to one another. When Jerry returned home, the sweethearts were married on August 29, 1956, in the office at St. Mary's Church. They took a honeymoon up North, visiting the Mackinac Bridge. The newlyweds settled into their home in a 8x40 trailer off Plainfield. This is where they began growing their family with the birth of Sherilyn. Scott later followed, and in order to accommodate their larger family they bought a home that was still being built on Chadwick, just a few blocks away. This would be the place that Jerry called home for the rest of his life, He diligently worked to get the home paid off, celebrating being debt free by the time he was 30.
In everything he did, Jerry was a family man through and through. He worked hard to support his family, supplementing his income with frequent painting jobs as he was both an excellent and efficient painter. Jerry was also very handy around the house and loved working in the yard, often with Shirley. They also had a huge garden and grew wonderful squash as well as many other vegetables. Their family had a pool in the yard that became the backdrop for so many amazing memories over the years.
Although his work kept him busy, Jerry did take the time to enjoy life, too. When Scott was in 8th grade, Jerry began golfing with him, and this proved to be one of Jerry’s favorite hobbies. He played a lot of golf over the years as they were members at Gracewil Country Club for many years. They often played 36 holes with Shirley serving as his caddie. In his later years, Jerry loved being able to play with his grandchildren as well as being able to hold his great-grandchildren during his sunset years. Several years ago, Shirley had been attending Wood Brook Cathedral and one day, Jerry decided to go with her on one occasion. From that point forward, he became a faithful attender at the church. He loved going to church and being part of the family of God. Jerry also served within the church with things like painting, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, and attending prayer meetings. Although he did not like flying, he and Shirley did take a couple of trips together including one to Las Vegas to visit their granddaughter and another to visit friends in Florida. Jerry was generally quiet, but he was more than willing to discuss politics as he had plenty of opinions that needed to be heard!
Life became more challenging for Jerry and his loved ones as his health began to decline some over the past few years. He was also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a couple of months ago. The deep love that Jerry and Shirley had for one another was easy to see during this time. She tenderly cared for him, which allowed him to remain in their home.
All who knew Gerald “Jerry” Steimel would agree that he was an extraordinary man to know and love. He had a great laugh and loved making others laugh, too. Jerry was an amazing provider for his family and someone others knew they could count on. He and his wife exemplified what marriage is truly intended to be as they enjoyed working in the yard together, having fun together, or even just holding hands. Jerry was generous with his time and resources, and he was more than willing to help in any way he could. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
Gerald W. Steimel, "Jerry" age 84 of Grand Rapids, passed away December 7, 2017. He is survived by his wife, Shirley; children Sherilyn (Tom) Schulke, Scott (Suzy) Steimel; grandchildren Kyle Brockschmidt , Kelli (Eric) Luchs, Corey and Eric Steimel, Weston and Amy Holst; great grandchildren Brody and Breanna Brockschmidt, Kerith Luchs, Genevieve Holst; sisters Margaret Wever, Marie (Roger) Tanis, Barbara (Bill) Beukema, Joan Gwaltney; brother, Charles (Judy) Steimel, and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brothers John and Walter Steimel, and sisters, Gertrude Ashmore and Ruth Polmanter. Jerry served in the Army during the Korean Conflict, and worked 45 years for John Widdicomb Furniture. Friends are invited to visit with Jerry's family on Sunday, December 10 from 3-5 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE. His funeral service will be held on Monday, December 11 at 11 AM at Wood Brook Cathedral, 1739 Providence Street NE, with Rev. J.B. Stutts officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to Wood Brook Cathedral are appreciated. To read more about Gerald, to share a memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com