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.
Wood Brook Cathedral
1739 Providence Street NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Life Story / Obituary
With a zest for life that was contagious to all who were near, Jerry Levin was truly amazing. He worked hard and was known for strong work ethic in everything he did. Jerry was deeply devoted to his family, and there was nothing he loved more than being a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He was accompanied by an unwavering faith, and his life exemplified what it means to be the hands and feet of the Lord he loved. Although life will never be the same without Jerry here, he leaves behind a brilliantly colored mosaic of memories that his loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.
The 1930s were a decade unlike any other in America as the Great Depression covered our nation and much of the world throughout the entire decade. Although times were devastating for so many, there were glimmers of hope as we celebrated the completion of the Empire State Building and the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This was also a time of great excitement in the lives of Leonard and Vera (Archer) Levin as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Jerry Lawayne on November 17, 1932, in Manistee, Michigan. The second of four children, he was raised on the family farm alongside his older brother, Leonard, and his younger sisters, Mary Louise and Roslyn. He attended a one-room schoolhouse in Onekema, but when his family moved to Owosso when he was 10 he continued his education there. He began working at a young age, establishing a strong work ethic that would remain with him for the rest of his life. Jerry first worked on the farm, and he later had newspaper routes, delivering papers with his bike that had a basket on the front. He even had a parrot that rode in the basket, too. He was a good kid and became deeply rooted in his faith while growing up. After graduating from high school Jerry went on to Owosso Bible College where he earned a degree in business.
Life was forever changed for Jerry when he met the young woman of his dreams. Her name was Erma Jean Sowers, and she was a couple of years younger. They began dating, and it didn’t take them long to fall deeply in love. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Jerry and Erma Jean were married on November 21, 1953, in Owosso. After a honeymoon in New York City they settled in Mount Pleasant where Jerry had a job at the local newspaper. When he got a job with the Grand Rapids Press, they moved to Grand Rapids where he called home for the rest of his life. After a few short years they settled into their former home on Kelsey Street NE.
There was never anything of greater importance in Jerry’s life than his family. He and Erma Jean were blessed with the births of three children, Larry, Dennis, and Kim. Jerry was active in the lives of his children and balanced giving them wise instruction and guidance with giving them the freedom to find their own way. If Jerry felt strongly about something, however, he made sure his kids knew. He worked hard to support his family, often holding down multiple jobs. In addition to working at the newspaper, Jerry worked at Fuller Avenue Pharmacy and Cascade Motor Inn. After eventually becoming the circulation manager, Jerry left the press and became editor of the Daily Times News, which he changed to the Grand Rapids News. He eventually left the newspaper business and went on to a variety of other jobs. Although work kept him busy, their family was able to get away for a week of camping every summer. For years they pitched their big Army tent at Gun Lake for several weeks.
Someone who liked to be busy, Jerry was always doing something around the home. Pretty much the only time he sat down was to read the newspaper. In later years Jerry liked to sit down and watch his favorite show, Everybody loves Raymond. He was willing to try just about anything when it came to building and fixing things, and he did a lot of work around the home. Jerry made improvements, put on additions, and he also did most of the work to add a swimming pool.
Throughout his life Jerry was a man of many interests. He loved boats, and for much of his life he had one. Jerry loved waterskiing, and he taught all his kids to ski. When they weren't camping, their family went around to area lakes, and in later years Jerry enjoyed having his Chris Craft on Lake Macatawa. As someone who wasn't afraid to try new things, he once took apart a wooden boat, refinished the wood during the winter in his basement, and then reassembled it. The best part is that it worked! A significant part of Jerry’s life was his involvement with his church, Wood Brook Cathedral, which he and his wife established with Rev. Stutts. Jerry served there in a variety of ways including as an usher and treasurer later in life. He loved church music as well as any kind of religious music. Jerry and Erma Jean loved traveling, and they had several motorhomes that took them all over the United States. They even went to Alaska. Jerry was always the driver, and he loved it. He and his wife only grew closer over the years, and they truly treasured their time together. Jerry had nicknames for just about everyone, but no one was more important than his beloved wife, “Sugar.” Jerry and his wife recently celebrated 65 years of marriage. He was thrilled to become a grandfather, and he loved spending time with his grandchildren as often as he could. He looked forward to Christmas every year as it was a time that was focused on giving. Although, it has been said that his heavy duty wrapping jobs easily gave away the gifts! Jerry didn’t ever really slow down. Even this past May he was still working, driving for Kool Chevrolet.
Honorable, gracious, and full of integrity, Jerry Levin lived a life of purpose. He worked hard, but he took the time to enjoy life along the way, often with the love of his life by his side. Jerry was quiet, but he did know when to use his one-liners, and he usually preferred being in the company of just a few close family members. With faith as a cornerstone, he exemplified what it means to be the hands and feet of the Lord he loved. Deeply cherished, Jerry will be forever missed.
Jerry Levin, age 86 of Grand Rapids, went home to be with his Lord on November 29, 2018. He is survived by his wife, Erma Jean; children Larry & Kathy Levin, Dennis & Jayme Levin, Kim & Chris VanHoute; grandchildren Ryan (Jen Wright) Levin, Chelsea (Ryan) Knoblock, Jessica Levin, Jared Levin, Jeffrey Levin, Jason (Lindsey) VanHoute, Brad (Kelly) VanHoute, Sarah VanHoute; great grandchildren Jacob, Eddison, and Lillian VanHoute; sister, Mary Louise (Dave) Demerly; nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his brother, Lt. Leonard Levin, and sister, Roslyn Weekley. Jerry’s funeral service will be held on Monday, December 3, 2018 at 12 Noon at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE with Rev. J.B. Stutts officiating. Friends are invited to visit with his family on Monday from 10 AM until the service at Noon. His family requests that in lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial donation to Woodbrook Cathedral, 1739 Providence NE, Grand Rapids 49525. To read more about Jerry’s life, to share a memory or to sign his guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com.