Sunday, December 20, 2015
6:00 PM to 9:00 PM EST
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Vigil Service at 8:30 PM
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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
After living 93 rich and joy-filled years, Henry Leonard Arkesteyn, Jr. leaves behind a substantial living legacy—his crowd of treasured family members, including five children, 14 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren. A wonderful husband, father, grandfather, brother, and uncle, Henry would do anything for anyone, at any time, especially for any of his dear family members. He was patient, willing, helpful, eager, and a man of honor who cherished his God and Catholic faith to the very end.
Born to Dutch immigrants Henry Leonard Arkesteyn, Sr. and Emma Bosch, Henry entered this world on March 12, 1922, the second of eventually three sons. The family remained close to their Dutch roots, and even stayed with their relatives for six months in 1925 when Henry was three. Six years after their return to America, Henry’s mother tragically died of tuberculosis on her 40th birthday, when Henry was only nine years old. As his father needed to continue to work in the factory in Detroit, he hired a housekeeper, “Tante Coba" (Tossie) to care for his three sons at their home in Detroit. She remained an important part of their family until she died 24 years later.
Henry grew up in the exciting Roaring Twenties, in a happening Detroit scene, exciting with newly minted auto factories and greater availability of consumer goods. For the first time, more Americans were living in cities than on farms, America was increasingly affluent and women could finally vote. The first radio stations hit the airwaves in 1920, increasing to over 500 nationwide by the time Henry was one year old. Households were buying up radios by the millions, besides electric refrigerators, factory-made clothing, and the hugely popular phonograph records. Flappers were in high fashion—though few women actually lived the acclaimed lifestyle—and the Prohibition of alcohol was in full force.
Meanwhile, Henry enjoyed the quintessential American boys’ life—he paid five cents for movies with his older brother Casey, played fast pitch softball on the neighborhood "Wolverine" team, sported in the streets with a hockey stick, delivered newspapers, cheered on his adored Tigers at the ball park.
As America entered World War II, in the late 1930s, Henry was rejected from the Navy because of skin trouble, but finally drafted into the Army in 1942. He passed the traveling boards test for the Air Force Cadets with flying colors, and was eventually chosen to be a Bombardier. After graduating as a Second Lieutenant in Albuquerque, NM, where he trained on a B29 Super Fortress, he eventually became a Major, and remained in the Air Force until the war was over. He even flew on the very last day of the war, flying their beloved “Victory Jean” over Japan on both August 14 and 15 in 1945. For the next 20 years, Henry remained in the Air Force Reserves, and stayed in frequent contact with his treasured military buddies, often in charge of organizing their semi-annual reunions in the West Michigan area.
After the war, Henry returned to Detroit for work, and vacationed periodically in Traverse City. One evening he went to a nightclub called “The Brook” there in Traverse City, and met Dorothy Hoxie, the love of his life. After dating about a year, they married on June 3, 1950 at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Traverse City and shared a wonderful honeymoon to Niagara Falls. Together they lived for several years in Detroit, Traverse City, and finally Alpena, Michigan, until settling on Garfield Street in northwest Grand Rapids. Henry worked primarily as a Purchasing Agent in the manufacturing industry for a variety of companies across the state, while he and Dorothy together raised their five cherished children, four boys and a girl.
Henry loved having his family as his captive audience for his corny jokes, but often couldn’t even get to the punch lines because he was laughing so hard. He loved watching baseball and hockey with his sons, especially his favorite Tigers and Red Wings. Their home was filled with the sounds of Henry’s favorite Big Band music, especially Artie Shaw and Glenn Miller, or of Henry’s favorite TV shows—Rifleman, Gunsmoke, and Bonanza. Since Dorothy was a wonderful cook and baker, the family often enjoyed Henry’s favorite desserts of “chocolate delight” or “John’s apple crisp,” though somehow Henry remained fit and slender despite her tempting goodies.
The family also enjoyed traveling together, to Yellowstone National Park, Florida, or frequent weekends to their trailer they owned at Upper Silver Lake in the 1970s. Henry loved swimming with his kids, though he always delighted his children and grandchildren with his exaggerated and painfully slow entry into the water.
Always an avid world news junkie, even into his later years, Henry continued to watch two news shows every evening and read the newspaper every single day, beginning always with the sports section. A true son of Detroit, Henry loved to drive—hanging on to his cherished license even into his 90s. While well into their 80s, he and Dorothy incessantly cared for their children and grandchildren, happily helping out with anything, from frequent baby and dog sitting to Henry's willingness to always be the designated "go-fer" when needed.
During retirement, Henry and Dorothy spent many winters in Florida, where they kept a full social calendar with a great group of friends. Energetic and exuberant lovers of life, they tried everything, from playing bocce ball and shuffleboard tournaments, to gambling, Caribbean cruises, and treasured card games. Henry’s favorite way to spend an afternoon was to play Pay Me! or 500 Rum with his family or dear friends.
Long used to running errands to the grocery store or around town for his beloved wife Dorothy, who died in March, after 65 years of marriage, Henry has followed her to the gates of glory. He is survived by his children, Leonard and Marilyn Arkesteyn, David Arkesteyn, James and Claudia Arkesteyn, Ann and John Ostrowski, and Alyn and Theresa Arkesteyn; grandchildren, Brent (Mandi) Jeffrey, Brian (Dee) Jeffrey, Kimberley (Scott) Crittenden, Denny VanPortfliet, Nick Arkesteyn, Carly (Jake) Kreiner, Dennis Arkesteyn, Lindsy (Chad) Kogelschatz, Jacob (Danielle) Arkesteyn, Matthew Ostrowski, Tyler (Stacia) Arkesteyn, Melissa (Cameron) Klenk, Wesley Arkesteyn, and Bradley Arkesteyn; great-grandchildren, Dominic, Kierstyn, Derec, Teagan, Taran, Hayden, Aiden, Wyatt, Isaac, Eli, Braelyn, Emerson, Jolene, Cooper, Noelle and one on the way. Also surviving are his brothers, Casey Arkesteyn and Jim and Marie Arkesteyn; and nephew, John and Karen Arkesteyn.
Friends and relatives are invited to visit with his family on Sunday, December 20, 2015, 6-9 PM, with a Vigil at 8:30 PM, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. N.W. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 AM on Monday, December 21, 2015, at St. Anthony of Padua, 2510 Richmond St. N.W. where friends may meet his family for 1 hour prior to the service. Inurnment will be in Oakwood Cemetery in Traverse City, MI. Contributions in his memory may be made to Great Lakes Caring Hospice. Henry's family wishes to thank Meadowlark Retirement Village and Great Lakes Caring Hospice for their kindness and loving care of Henry.