Saturday, January 13, 2018
11:00 AM EST
Covenant Village of the Great Lakes
2510 Lake Michigan Drive NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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.
Covenant Village Benevolent Care Fund
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Gregarious, fun, and congenial, Henry “Hank” Dokter lived a life rich in family and friends. A man who knew no strangers and who possessed a heart with room for all, Hank inspired all who were blessed to know him. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Hank embraced each moment with discipline and joy. He lived his faith and in so doing showed others how to do so as well. Treasured by many, Hank’s legacy will long live in the hearts and lives of those he loved.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, the power of hope undulated in the hearts of many. With a natural drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, the nation continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was there more hope for the future than in Chicago, Illinois as John and Nellie (Jansma) Dokter welcomed their son Henry into their hearts and home on December 1, 1932.
Hank was a good kid who enjoyed the comforts of growing up near the farmlands edge of Chicago with his older sister, Hilda and younger brother, Melvin. A typical boy, he enjoyed working on projects with his father and finding just enough mischief to keep things interesting. One of his favorite projects was building a boat, and his most famous mischievous moment was painting his father's car with house paint. Hank loved the outdoors and soon took to trapping animals, whose pelts he sold to Sears, and fishing, which became a lifelong hobby.
During his elementary school years, Hank attended a two-room schoolhouse. As a teen, Hank loved to play basketball. He was fortunate to play for his school and on a church league team. The best win of Hank’s basketball career was the moment he laid eyes on a particular young lady in the stands during one of his games. Immediately smitten, Hank asked if he could give her a ride home that night. Much to his surprise, she said “yes.” By the end of their ride home, Hank and Doris VanProyen were an official couple.
After dating for two years and graduating from Blue Island High School, Hank and Doris became engaged to be married; however, their plans were delayed by Hank’s draft notice that would soon have him going away to the Army. For the next two years, Hank proudly served his country primarily as a clerk. His service took him to Germany just as the efforts in Korea came to an end, and he was able to safely return home. Hank’s welcome home was made complete on April 29, 1955, at First Christian Reformed Church of Roseland when he had the honor of finally making his wedding vows and becoming Doris’ proud husband.
Following a honeymoon in Florida, the happy couple returned home, and Hank began his studies at the University of Illinois. His first two years were spent in Chicago where they also welcomed their first daughter, Laurel, into their lives. The young family then moved to Champaign, Illinois where Hank completed his degree in mechanical engineering.
Upon graduation, the young family returned to Chicago and where Hank quickly found work at Swift and Company. While working there, Hank had the pleasure of working on acquiring a patent for a machine to slice and package bacon. While it was an exciting project, nothing could touch the excitement of welcoming two more daughters into the family. With the births of Beth and Amy, the Dokter family was complete.
In time, Hank would move to Means Services as director of Research and Development. He remained with the company for the rest of his career, as they changed ownership several times over the years. These were commercial laundry companies, and although he was in management, he also liked to keep his hands dirty, working and troubleshooting machines. Hank possessed a natural propensity for business. He knew how to seamlessly make decisions that were in the best interest of the company, and as a result was able to travel throughout the country representing the business. A man of unwavering integrity, Hank was well respected by his business community. He was held in high esteem for his strong work ethic, excellent negotiation skills, and smart business sense.
Building the home they lived in for the next 30 years in Lansing, Illinois, Hank and Doris worked hard to create a loving and supportive environment for their girls. As a father, Hank was both highly structured and fun. Hank approached everything he did methodically; he was highly organized, an excellent planner, and he diligently wrote everything down. Hank understood the freedom that came with clear structures, and he also understood the importance of play. While the sound of his firm size 14 shoes coming down the hall could easily be intimidating, Hank’s fabulous sense of humor and gift for gab instantly balanced that feeling.
Never one to sit still for long, Hank always had a project to tinker on. He was a very handy man who relished in the success of completing a project, as well as including his daughters in on the work. Hank pushed his daughters into taking on hard tasks, often cheering them on with his customary, “it will be good experience for you." He led by example, always striving to learn more, do more, and experience more. Some of Hank’s proudest moments was sharing his work with his girls; each of whom had the opportunity to work with him for awhile in their youth. One of the most powerful gifts Hank gave his daughters was his deep devotion to their mother. Doris was clearly his beloved, and their relationship was a wonderful model for those who shared it with them.
As Hank understood the value of play and leisure, the family enjoyed many vacations over the years, including a particularly memorable trip to Colorado. Once the girls were older, he and Doris spent a good amount of time with their “gang” of friends, often hosting evenings in their home where many great stories and much laughter was shared. They were even fortunate to travel with several of their friends. With a love of travel, Hank took Doris on several fishing trips, and they were also blessed to have the good fortune of being able to travel around the world. Trips to Europe, Hawaii, and Alaska were thoroughly enjoyed. And, perhaps their trip to New Zealand was his favorite adventure.
A man of many interests and talents, Hank was always quick to volunteer his efforts in service of others. A natural leader, he quickly became president of whatever board he served on at the time, whether at Christian School, Church, or the Neighborhood Association. With strong faith, Hank was always involved in the church he belonged to. One of his favorite ways to contribute to his fellowship was with the gift of his voice. Hank loved to sing and readily volunteered to sing at funerals, weddings, during church services, and with the choir. He especially enjoyed singing southern gospel with one of the church groups he participated in. A devoted man of faith, Hank consciously strove to embody the values of his faith. He loved unconditionally, practiced forgiveness, encouraged peace, and remained humble. His heart was a safe place for other’s to simply be and his efforts to live life in service of others were evident.
Without a doubt, Hank’s family was his greatest joy, and his grandchildren were his heart’s delight. Easily enchanted by children, Hank was quick to interact and play with them. Whether methodically building block walls with them, making train whistle noises with his hands, taking them fishing, cooking up his famous pancakes, or lovingly holding them in his arms, Hank enveloped each child with enthusiasm, love, acceptance, and undauntable faith in their goodness.
Even in the face of life’s difficulties, Hank leaned into his faith and lived each moment fully. In 2000, when he was faced with heart health complications, Hank rose to the challenge by trusting the good care of his physicians, making necessary lifestyle changes, and doing all that he could to bolster his health. As a result, the Lord granted him another 17 mostly wonderful years.
During these years, he and Doris moved to Highland, Indiana where he and Doris continued to pursue their interests and nurture their relationships. With an innate affinity for people, Hank was never shy to make conversation, even about politics! In his typical outgoing and fun ways, Hank could easily engage anyone in lively conversation. There was never a mystery as to what Hank believed nor what he was thinking. He was a man who was comfortable with himself and who trusted that others were comfortable with him too.
Three years ago Hank and Doris moved to Covenant Village in Grand Rapids. As customary, they quickly made new friends, and Hank enjoyed spending time singing with the Harmonizers and working on projects in the woodshop. Mostly, Hank enjoyed the pleasures of sharing time with his bride whom he obviously adored.
Though it is hard to imagine life without Hank’s steadfast presence, may our many memories of this beautiful man afford deep comfort. May it also afford comfort to know that with each Cub game we cheer on, Gospel song we enjoy, lively conversation we partake in, welcoming smile we grant another, and child we take the time to play with, we are living Hank’s inspiring legacy in our own lives. In this way, we keep the light of his spirit burning and rippling out to the hearts of others who are sure to be as inspired by his life as we have been.
Henry J. Dokter, age 85 of Grand Rapids, passed away January 8, 2018. He is survived by his wife, Doris; children Laurel (Gary) McKinney, Beth (Doug) Smith, Amy (Craig) Piersma; grandchildren Diana (Justin) Bush, Reid Harris, Melanee (Greg) Sears, Aaron (Nykki) Smith, Hayley Smith, Nathan, Jared, Seth and Luke Piersma; great grandchildren Ashton, Owen, Ellie, Austin and Madelyn; sister, Hilda Ozinga; brother, Melvin (Margaret) Dokter; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law Ben Boersema, Henry (Marlene) VanProyen, Mary (Chuck) Schipma, Marcia (Doug) Madderom, Phyllis (Jim) Bandstra; as well as nieces and nephews. The service to remember and celebrate Hank's life will be held on Saturday, January 13, 2018, at 11 AM EST at Covenant Village of the Great Lakes. Friends are invited to visit with his family on Friday from 6-8 PM EST at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel. Interment in Fort Custer National Cemetery. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Covenant Village Benevolent Fund are appreciated. To read more about Hank, to share a memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com.