Wednesday, November 25, 2015
11:00 AM EST
Holy Spirit Catholic Church
2230 Lake Michigan Dr. N.W.
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.
2221 Health Dr. SW Ste. 1400
Grand Rapids, MI 49519
Life Story / Obituary
Throughout his rich and rewarding journey, Jerome Zerfas lived a life of purpose while holding his loved ones near. Life was not without times of trial, but he was a man of strength and courage who faced whatever came his way head on. A devoted family man, Jerome’s desire to provide a good life for his wife and children was the driving force behind his willingness to work hard. A man of faith, he was generous, even selfless, and willing to help others in any way he could. Although Jerome will be deeply missed, he will never be forgotten.
The 1920s were highly prosperous times as innovation was changing our daily lives like never before. Radios, washing machines, and cars mass produced on assembly lines were all signs of the time, but this all came to a screeching halt in October of 1929 when the crash of the stock market ushered in the dark days of the Great Depression. It was shortly after this historic day that Peter and Martha (Steinbreecher) Zerfas announced the birth of their son, Jerome B., on November 22, 1929. He was the last of seven children in this family, and his father was a farmer on the family farm in the area of New Salem or Burnips. Jerome’s mother was a busy homemaker. The Zerfas family felt the strain of the time as much of their farm work, which included raising chickens and sheep and growing potatoes and corn, was done with horses and plows. They were devout Catholics who were very active in the church and school.
Life was anything but easy for Jerome. He did enjoy taking the horses down to the Rabbit River to let them cool off, which also meant that he got a quick swim, too. Jerome attended St. Mary’s School in New Salem for his elementary education. He went on to high school for a short time, but he left school to help his father on the farm instead. Sadly, Jerome’s mother died when he was just 13. This was difficult for his father, and since Jerome and his brother, Bob were the only children still left at home, they shouldered the difficult work of the farm on their own. As his father got older and was no longer able to handle the farm, they sold it and moved to a home on Maynard Road in Grand Rapids when Jerome was 18. His father was never able to work again, and Jerome cared for him. He took a job at American Seating Company, and this is where he worked for over 40 years.
As a young man, Jerome was ready for all that life had in store. He was in the Navy Reserves, but it was his personal life that soon grew very exciting when he met the young girl of his dreams. Her name was Edith Preston, and she was living in Grand Rapids with Jerome's Aunt Minnie. His Aunt Minnie and a friend of the family, Joann Martin introduced Edith to Jerome. They began dating and soon found themselves deeply in love. With a desire to establish a life together, Jerome and Edith were married in October of 1950. After a reception at her parents’ home in Lowell, the newlyweds were off for a honeymoon to Niagara Falls.
After returning, the young couple purchased a home on the Southwest side of the city. A short time later, they purchased a home on Collindale NW, where they raised their family of six children including Janice, Nancy, Bruce, Charlene, Keith, and Timothy. Jerome was a very devoted family man who wanted to provide his children with the things he never had while growing up. This meant that he worked hard to provide food, clothing, and a Catholic education for them. Christmas was always the best time of year for Jerome, and he loved generously giving to his family. At times, he took a second job to help make ends meet doing odd jobs like working as a security guard or helping others in some way. Together they were members of Holy Spirit Church. Everyone looked forward to summers as Jerome loved renting a cabin up North where he did plenty of fishing. A regular vacation meal was spam with eggs and potatoes. Jerome also liked to grill, and as his family got older he still loved having them over to enjoy a grilled meal. “German wieners” were a favorite.
In 1978, all their children were grown so Jerome and Edith purchased a “farm” on 14th Avenue in Ottawa County. He loved farming and had some large gardens on this property. Jerome worked his “farm” with a small Allis Chalmers tractor, which was his pride and joy. He loved working the ground and could seemingly grow anything. Jerome and Edith also did some traveling during their retirement years, taking some bus trips to places like Yellowstone National Park and other attractions. Although he enjoyed himself, Jerome did prefer staying at home and was eager to get back to his garden. He kept busy reading, primarily books and magazines about farming. One of Jerome’s favorites was “Progressive Farming” as well as the “Farmers Almanac.” He also liked watching his favorite team, Notre Dame, play football. Jerome did like hunting, but not so much for the hunting part and more for just the opportunity to be with other people, especially family. He had a special place in his heart for animals and had dogs and cats, but he always felt bad that when they left the farm they couldn’t take the horses with them.
As he got older, changes were in store for Jerome. In 2000, he was deeply saddened with the death of his beloved Edith. Although he was alone, he was able to stay busy with his gardens and his “farm.” He also savored every moment he had to share with his family. In his later years, needed more care and moved into the Christian Rest Home where he spent the remainder of his days.
When reflecting on the life of Jerome Zerfas, it is easy to see that his life was focused on the people and things he loved. He never took even one moment for granted, and his faith was the cornerstone on which every decision was based. Jerome was so proud of his family that grew to include not only children, but grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well. Dearly loved, he will be forever missed.
ZERFAS – Mr. Jerome B. Zerfas, aged 86 of Grand Rapids passed away Friday November 20, 2015 and joined the Master Builder and his Savior in heaven. He was preceded in death by his wife, Edith Zerfas. Surviving are his children: Janice Zerfas, Nancy Zerfas, Bruce Zerfas, Charlene and Rick Stevens, Keith Zerfas and Deb VanderSloot, Timothy Zerfas; 8 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren, his brother-in-law Kenneth Preston, his sisters-in-law: Lou Laur, Patricia Preston, Ruth and Bill Cannon, June Plume and nieces and nephews. Jerome was a retiree of the American Seating Company after 40 years of service. Mass of the Christian burial will be held Wednesday at 11 AM at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 2230 Lake Michigan Dr N.W. Mr. Zerfas reposes at the Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. N.W., where relatives and friends are invited to visit with his family Tuesday from 6 to 9 P.M. The family would like to thank the staff of the Christian Rest Home and Gentiva Hospice for their care and concern shown our father. Contributions to either the Christian Rest Home or Gentiva Hospice would be appreciated. To read more of Jerome’s life, share a memory or sign the online register book please visit www.lifestorynet.com.