Life Story / Obituary
Harold Rodenhouse enjoyed a rich and rewarding life, not because of any thing or accomplishment that he accumulated, but rather because of the people in it. He was blessed with great faith in God and a beloved family with his wife, Jane and children Susan and Sandra. While Harold could tell you much about furniture, its production, and administrating it all, you’d quickly find that his stories always included the names of people. Harold was a people person, caring about family, friends, co-workers, employees, and in recent years his caregivers. Harold was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather who created a timeless legacy that was deeply rooted in his faith. Though there were some rough spots in his life, Harold’s faith and persevering nature never wavered. He was inspirational in how he dealt with adversity early in his life and then again later, after Jane’s accident. His smile, humility, and generosity will be what he is most remembered for and will be deeply missed!
Harold Earnest Rodenhouse was born on October 15, 1930 to John and Clara (Terpstra) Rodenhouse. Harold was the fifth of five children and was born at their family farm on Richmond Street NW. His siblings were, Andy and Marian, who were twins, followed by Florence and then his brother, Philip. He was born at the start of the Great Depression that left his hard working father, a farmer, struggling to make ends meet. Sadly, Hal experienced the death of his father when he was merely a toddler and then he lost his mother in death a year later. It was a tragic time, filled with uncertainty for Harold and his siblings as their life together was forever changed. Although torn apart and raised by various relatives, it was a huge blessing when as adults they were able to renew their bond as family with many gatherings!
Harold went to live with his Uncle John & Aunt Florence Roon along with his sister, Florence on Myrtle Street NW. He attended West Side Christian School and belonged to the infamous “Class of Nine Boys”. The boy’s friendship endured throughout Harold’s entire life and were a tremendous blessing! Hal attended Union High School and night school later for higher education. He worked a wide variety of odd jobs in his early years, determined to learn and grow.
New and exciting changes were in store for Harold when he met the love of his life. Together the two of them would write a love story that would span 57 years. Her name was Jane Robinette, and they met on blind date in 1955. That date led to more dates, and the couple soon realized they had found their forever mate! With that in mind, Harold and Jane were married on March 9, 1956, at Central Christian Church. After enjoying a beautiful honeymoon in Florida, the newlyweds returned to Grand Rapids and made their home at 1775 Oakleigh Road, NW. Their lives were soon disrupted in a major way as it was just three weeks later that the Standale tornado came and ripped their house right off its foundation. Their car was thrown across the street, and Jane found her wedding ring in a mud puddle. With unwavering faith, they counted themselves truly blessed because they still had each other. The couple moved back in with her parents, church members and friends rallied around them, and their house was rebuilt.
Together Harold and Jane welcomed two daughters into their hearts and home, Sue in 1957 and Sandi in 1961. Hal was a dedicated employee at the furniture plant and eventually worked his way up from humble beginnings all the way to the President’s chair. His love of furniture and all things wood garnered him a position on the Grand Rapids Furniture Manufacturer’s Board. His career had two major highlights, Hekman Furniture (until 1989) and then later Superior Furniture (until 1998) in Lowell, MI. Many of the family’s most precious memories were made at the family cottage on Big Whitefish Lake. Sailing, golfing, waterskiing, and swimming at Big Whitefish Lake were things that Hal thoroughly enjoyed! The cottage originated with Jane’s parents, but all were welcome and anyone could stay as they firmly believed in the adage, “the more, the merrier.” Even as his daughters grew older and he became a grandfather, Hal did his best to balance a demanding work life and a great family life, never missing a chance to be with family & friends. Hal was blessed with the ability to simply lie down, put his feet up and catch a 15 minute nap between activities (even in the dentist’s chair!).
Throughout his life Hal was a man of many interests, never turning down the opportunity for another great adventure, but his faith remained his constant guide. Harold was a lifetime member of Alpine Avenue Christian Reformed Church later merging with Highland Hills to become Westend CRC. He was actively involved as both a deacon and elder. His caring heart was evident as he was generous with both is time and his giving. Harold and Jane enjoyed traveling both domestically and internationally, for business and with family and friends for pleasure. Their travels took them to places like Mexico, Hawaii, Australia, Turkey, Greece, throughout Europe, the Holy Land and various cruises. He particularly enjoyed the festive atmosphere and workout room of the Peninsular Club downtown, where Harold was a member. For several years they regularly went out with the “gang,” which always seemed to be expanding! Harold was always game for more, whole heartedly taking up the family mantra, “The more, the merrier!” Hal liked playing card games like Cribbage or Hearts at the cottage and the table size always grew to allow for more chairs & laughter!
Life became more difficult for Hal, Jane and loved ones when Jane was involved in a car accident in 1997. She suffered spinal bleeding paralysis and combined with a subsequent stroke, her mobility was greatly diminished. Holding true to the lesson they learned from their tornado experience, Hal and Jane counted their blessings rather than their misfortunes. Jane was never resentful about her situation, and she, encouraged by her "never-give-in" husband, was lifted, steadied, or rolled into many of the grandkid’s games and school functions. Hal and Jane thoroughly enjoyed and continued to be a regular part of their family and friends lives.
Harold Rodenhouse was such a blessing in the lives of those around him. Even as dementia set in (especially following Jane’s death), Hal cared for others and warmed the hearts of those around him. Hal was a man of great faith, in a great God who enabled him to be fully devoted to his family and friends. He held onto the Savior’s hand through the hills and the valleys and we recount his life with great joy because we know the Best is Yet to Be for Harold E :)
RODENHOUSE – Mr. Harold E. Rodenhouse, aged 87, of Grand Rapids passed away on October 30, 2017. He was preceded in death by his dear wife Jane (Robinette) Rodenhouse of 57 years. His daughters are, Sue (Scott) Van Dyken and Sandi (Barry) Ruiter; grandchildren, Erin (Adam) Magers, Kurt (Ashley) Van Dyken, Cassie (Joel) Baker, Kayla (Patrick) Carroll, and Corie Ruiter; great-grandchildren, Natalie, Nora, Isla, Rowan, Baker, Brooks and Breslin; and many nieces, nephews, and friends. Hal lived his life by Faith and appreciated the blessings of family, friends and working with fine furniture at Hekman, Classic Collections and Superior Furniture. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 11am on Saturday, November 25, 2017 at his church, Westend Christian Reformed Church, 1015 Westend Ave. NW, with Rev. Henry Admiraal officiating. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to Faith Hospice. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read his lifestory, archive a memory, photo, or sign the guestbook online.