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.
Great Lakes Hospice
900 Cooper St.
Jackson, MI 49201
Fountain View Assisted Living
640 W. Randall
Coopersville, MI 49404
Life Story / Obituary
Hard working and determined are just a few of the characteristics to describe Harry “Hap” Verhey. A man with strong Christian faith and values, he was an example to those around him, and in his family he found the greatest joy. Harry witnessed the world evolve through his 96 years of living. He experienced much in his lifetime, and considered himself blessed in numerous ways. Gone but never to be forgotten are the memories he leaves behind.
By 1919, the end of World War I marked times of great change in America. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution was established, prohibiting the sale of alcohol anywhere in the U.S. The dial telephone was introduced, and the pogo stick was the favorite of neighborhood children everywhere. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Orie and Jane (Jones) Verhey had much to be thankful for on October 3, 1919 as they celebrated the birth of their son, Harry, born at their family’s dairy farm, on the kitchen table no less, on Coit Street NE.
Harry’s father worked building woodworking machinery at Oliver Machine Products. His mother, a homemaker, remained at home with Harry and his older brother, John. He later welcomed his younger sister, Marion, and twin siblings, Lou and Dorothy "Dort". The Verhey family made their home at 853 Jones Street in Grand Rapids where they remained for many years. Devout to their Christian faith, they attended Fairview Reformed Church.
During his youth, Harry enjoyed a childhood typical of his generation despite the perils of the Great Depression. As a boy he attended Fairview Elementary School through the eighth grade, and worked on the family dairy farm his grandparents owned. On a typical day, Harry milked some 60 cows and tended to the crops among a variety of other chores. From his earliest years he learned the value of hard work which remained with him throughout his days. He also became quite fond of hunting and he loved hunting for deer and small game through the years.
The onset of World War II found Harry enlisting to serve in the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. He served in the Philippines and in the South Pacific for over three years until the war came to a thankful end. Upon his honorable discharge, Harry returned home and soon met Glennis Hawkins who captured his heart. They began dating, fell deeply in love and were happily married on August 9, 1946 at Kent City Baptist Church, the very church Glennis’ father built.
Affectionately known as “Hap”, Harry worked as a printer at the Grand Rapids Press where he remained for 35 years. Blessed with four children, Harry and Glennis welcomed the births of their sons, Harry in 1948, Tom in 1950, and Rich in 1953. Their daughter, Pat completed their family in 1957. As a couple they raised their children with strong Christian values and were faithful members of Fairview Reformed Church, (Orchard Hill Church). They built a home on Ferris Street NW before moving to a house on Oakleigh Street, and later moved on Alpine Avenue. When the expressway came through, Harry moved their house to Lankamp Street.
Through the years, numerous memories were shared as a family. They spent many family vacations tent camping throughout Michigan, and later invested in a travel trailer. Great times were had by all camping in Newaygo, Grand Haven and Holland. While Glennis and the kids stayed in the camper all summer moving from park to park, Harry commuted to work each day, returning to enjoy his family in the evenings.
In 1958, Harry’s wife developed breast cancer, and in time she found it a struggle to tend to her children. While caring for Glennis and with his work, Harry welcomed the help of relatives. After a two and a half year struggle, Harry’s beloved Glennis sadly died on Palm Sunday, March 26, 1961. Harry was grateful for the help of his extended family. Their love and support allowed him to carry on, especially when his brother, John and his wife, Edith moved in to keep the family together. With the Lord as his guide, Harry did the best he knew how, and with perseverance and determination, he set a good example for his children to live by.
Love was not lost for Harry. He later met Eleanor Ludwick and they began dating. In love, they were soon married on January 19, 1962. Harry went on to build a new home on Lankamp next to their existing house where new and cherished memories were made.
Harry loved old cars. Over the years he owned several old Fords and Chevy roadsters from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. He also bought and sold cars he refurbished for a profit many times. Never one to be idle, even when Harry retired from the Grand Rapids Press, he went on to drive a delivery truck for Ludwick Donuts for 20 years. He kept himself busy, and was always tinkering with one of his cars. He was never too big about watching TV, but liked taking in a Detroit Tiger’s or Lion’s game occasionally.
Harry and Eleanor loved boat fishing and pier fishing for perch. He loved cooking perch, and to Harry, nothing was better than a good plate of fresh perch. He also bowled on the Grand Rapids Press bowling league for many years. Harry loved to golf with his regular foursome, but he mainly golfed with his good golfing buddy and friend, Pete Tietsma with whom he golfed five days a week. He also golfed with his church golf league. Harry could often be found at one of his many hangouts enjoying breakfast, lunch, or coffee. He was a regular at Mr. Burger, The Filling Station, Arby’s, and Burger King, and he sometimes even picked up Pete up to join him. Oatmeal was his favorite, and he ate it every day.
For 30 years, Harry and Eleanor enjoyed spending the winters in Hutchison, Florida. He took up whittling there, carving many unique gifts for his family and friends. While in Florida they made many friends, yet often came home for Christmas to be with family. Harry loved being with his grandkids and great-grandchildren as he enjoyed their company immensely.
When Harry’s wife Eleanor was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1997, Harry was determined to care for her until the very end, and he lovingly did. However, in 2001 when it became too much, she began living at Christian Rest Home. Harry faithfully visited Eleanor three times a day and together they ate their meals side-by-side until her death on April 15, 2005.
Harry continued to remain active and occupied his time golfing and tinkering. At one point, Harry developed a blood clot in his leg. When little more could be done to resolve the issue, Harry underwent surgery to amputate his leg. More of an inconvenience, Harry didn’t allow it to slow him down. When he was fitted for a prosthetic, he went about his life the only way he knew how, with faith.
Although determined to care for himself, in 2013 Harry soon realized it was no longer possible. With love, his children convinced him to move to Fountain View Assisted Living in Coopersville where he met many new friends. His family visited often and he came to feel secure and grew accustomed to living there. Over the last two years he enjoyed playing bingo and was involved in a bible study. On Monday, Harry’s health began to diminish rather quickly. As his family gathered at his side, they read bible passages to him and prayed with him. On Veteran’s Day, at 7:22 AM, Harry found eternal rest in the arms of his beloved Savior.
Harry will be remembered as a hard working, determined, and intelligent man. He kept busy and active doing the things he loved, and lived a Christ centered life in service to his Lord. He loved his family dearly, and leaves much to be remembered and treasured.
Harry “Hap” Verhey aged 96 of Grand Rapids, passed away on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at Fountain View of Coopersville. He was preceded in death by his wife, Glennis in 1961; his wife, Eleanor in 2005; his brother, John (Edith) Verhey; and his sister, Marian (Bill) Oosse. He is survived by his children, Harry and Kathleen Verhey, Tom and Nancy Verhey, Richard and Mary Verhey, and Patricia and Dennis Raap; 12 grandchildren; 27 great-grandchildren; his sisters, Lou and Mel VeenBoer, and Dorothy Vogel; sisters-in-law and brother-in-law, Edna Johnson, Harold Ilbrink, and Marie Ludwick; many nieces, nephews and friends.
The service to celebrate Hap’s life will be held Monday, November 16, 11:00 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home–2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Burial in Fairplains Cemetery. Relatives and friends may meet his family at the funeral home on Sunday from 2-4 and 6-8 PM, and 10-11 AM on Monday. Contributions in his memory may be made to Fountain View Assisted Living or Great Lakes Hospice. To read more about Hap’s life, to sign his guest book and to leave your own memory of him, please visit his web page at www.lifestorynet.com.