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Life Story / Obituary
There was no greater honor for Jack Dykstra than that of dedicated husband, father, grandfather, and friend. A man who influenced by example, he set his expectations high, all while being a loving and supportive force in the lives of those he loved. Jack was a natural leader. He was a self taught man who trusted his intuition, and worked hard in everything he put his hand to. People were naturally drawn to Jack. He went through life with a smile, and he looked for enjoyable, fun times at every opportunity. Deeply missed, his legacy lives on in the hearts of those he leaves behind
By 1931, the difficult days of the Great Depression created a jobless rate of nearly four million. It was indeed a trying time in our nation’s history, yet hope was found as New York City opened the Empire State Building, and celebrated as the Star-Spangled Banner was adopted as the U.S. national anthem. Amidst these trying times in the riverfront city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Sibley and Margie (Kraght) Dykstra found reason to celebrate on November 12, 1931 when they welcomed the birth of their little boy, Jack Raymond Dykstra into their arms.
Raised an only child, Jack grew up in Walker in a farmhouse near Fruit Ridge Avenue NW and Three Mile Road on the outskirts of Grand Rapids. There his family had a dairy farm, and Jack had his share of chores. Even as a young boy, he worked before and after school, all while attending to his studies which left little time for play. Jack’s childhood had its share of challenges. His father was not around, and by the age of 12, Jack was doing most of the work around the farm, even driving the milk truck. Jack was raised attending what would eventually become Walker United Reformed Church where he was a lifelong member. With quiet faith, Jack lived by his convictions and his reliance on his Lord.
One day while driving the milk truck, Jack noticed a pretty, young woman walking along the road and offered her a ride home. Quite taken with Kathleen Versluis, he continued to meet and talk with her. In time his pursuit of Kathleen became more serious. Deeply in love, they eventually became engaged and on April 4, 1952, they were blessed in marriage. They spent a memorable honeymoon at Niagara Falls, but while he was gone, Jack’s father had passed away.
Jack and Kathleen returned home to Walker to begin their new lives together as husband and wife. His mother lived with them for a time, and although Jack diligently worked the farm for the next several years, a life of farming was not in Jack’s heart. With some money his wife had, Jack bought his first bulldozer, using it on the farm and to dig basements for people. When the expressway was built, it took some of his farm land, but of more interest to Jack was the equipment they used, and he vowed to have some like it one day. Jack grew his excavating business over the years, and eventually Dykstra Excavating was incorporated in 1968.
Throughout this time, Jack and Kathleen were blessed with four children over the course of six years. Margie, Paul, Jack II and Jim added much to their lives. Jack was a hard worker and instilled a strong work ethic in his children. He also taught them the importance of saving, and paying cash for purchases. Jack strongly supported Christian education and sacrificed to ensure his children received a good foundation in the Christian schools. But Jack also strongly believed in sharing fun times, too. Nearly every weekend during the summers, Jack took his family in their boat up to the Muskegon River for a day of boating, always stopping for ice cream on the way back home. Jack loved boating. In later years he kept a boat at Grand Isle Marina where they spent many weekends on the boat and enjoying the many friends they made there.
Having enjoyed little during his childhood, Jack made up for lost time during his adult years. When not working, he enjoyed boating, hunting, fishing, golfing and gardening. Through the years Jack traveled to Canada to go goose hunting. He went quail hunting in Mexico, and he hunted boar in Florida. He loved fishing, both in Michigan and later in Florida. When they had a home in Key Largo, he often went out onto the big waters, even by himself. When he and Kathleen both took flying lessons, Jack went on to earn his pilot’s license. He also loved snowmobiling.
Jack knew how to fix things. Quite handy, he was always looking for ways to improve something, and he wasn’t afraid to change things to make them better, even if it meant taking a chain saw to his new boat. Jack knew what he wanted and was sure to make it work. A hard working man, Jack was self taught in most everything he did. He had good intuition, and used it wisely. He researched things and made well informed decisions, and when he made a decision, he was clearly decisive. Each of his children worked for him, and for many years, it was certain who the boss was.
In retirement, Jack and Kathleen traveled to destinations such as Alaska and Australia, but most of all, they enjoyed their time in Florida. They loved their place in Key Largo, and spent more and more time there each year. Often the center of attention in a crowd or gathering, those around Jack enjoyed his company. He was a natural leader, and people were drawn to him. Jack was an outgoing and fun-loving man who went through life smiling and looking for fun. Even though he was never very good at remembering names, Jack simply referred to people as Suzie or Frank. Through most of his life, Jack not only disliked golf, but he was never fond of golfers, either. The tables were certainly turned when he ended up liking the game of golf later in life.
In all ways, Jack was a generous man who favored the friendships of many. Whenever Jack was around, it was sure to be a fun time. He was a flamboyant leader, and worked hard to provide for those entrusted to his care. There wasn’t anyone quite like Jack Dykstra, and for those who knew him best, he will be remembered fondly and deeply missed.
Jack Raymond Dykstra Sr., age 83 of Walker, went home to be with his Lord and Savior on Thursday, October 29, 2015. Jack is survived by his wife, Kathleen; their children: Margie (Ross) Bartman, Paul (Paulette DeYoung), Jack Jr. (Cheryl), and James (Donna); grandchildren: Holly, Zack, Heather, Cody and Caley Bartman, Jason Dykstra, Nathan Schunemann, Alyssa Krenn-Daniels, Jacki and Seth Dykstra; his brother-in-law, Don (Jayne) Versluis. The service to remember and celebrate Jack’s will be held Thursday, November 5, 2015, 11:00 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home-Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW where friends may visit with his family on Wednesday from 2-4 and 6-8 PM. To read more about his life and to share a favorite story or sign his online guestbook, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.