John Michael Van Dyk, age 46, of Kalamazoo passed away January 1, 2024. He was born January 14, 1977 in Kalamazoo, the son of Marvin and Jelene (Dykstra) Van Dyk. He was the third and youngest son.
John grew up on West Lake in Portage, MI, where his childhood was spent fishing, swimming, and ice skating-with his brothers; friends, Ronnie and Leo Cherette; and the Vandermay cousins-who all lived on the lake. John attended South and East Christian grade school, attended Kalamazoo Christian High School, and graduated from Portage Community Education Center in 1995. While attending school John enjoyed playing soccer, track, football, and baseball.
After graduating, John briefly lived in Washington State with his brother David. They enjoyed camping on the long road trip out west with John's beloved Australian Shepherd, Dundee, who would hike, camp, and rock climb with them. John loved camping and backcountry hiking. Some of the highlights were backcountry camping with Tim, Jonah, and Milo at Glacier National Park and Smokey Mountains with family staying in a chalet, along with many smaller trips to sand dune camping on Lake Michigan. Another testament to John's adventurous spirit included solo sky diving with his brothers in 2013. John also loved dogs, including his most recent companion Marley.
John worked in his early twenties at various jobs: oil change, painting, gas stations and factory work. He lived at various apartments around Kalamazoo sometimes with friends but often alone. He most recently lived proudly at his Condo at Cherry Knoll community with his roommate, Marley the dog. John spent the last few weeks of his life at Bronson Hospital and Medilodge Nursing Home with the support of Centrica Care Navigators Hospice.
During John's last year of life, he looked forward to his weekly Canasta card games with his beloved Uncle Jack Vandermay, brother David and his mother. Uncle Jack was a long-time source of love, comfort, and trust for John consistently after his father's untimely death. John was unconditionally loved and included in family events with the Vandermay/Van Dyk clans.
John began struggling with mental illness and substance abuse in his late teens and early twenties. He was accepting of mental health services from time to time but ultimately his paranoia interfered with effective services. One consistent source of support and trust was his professional payee service from ROI, Inc., and his payee specialist, Kelly Nieman. Kelly was able to gain his trust and went above and beyond serving him.
John consistently chose alcohol to numb the voices and his family spent twenty-five years powerless to help or gain entry into his inner world. In the end, the alcohol he turned to in efforts to numb his suffering ultimately caused his death. His family takes comfort that he voiced readiness to pass and peace with the knowledge that his suffering was going to end. John spent his last days enduring with his characteristic stoicism and humor, accompanied by a lucidity rarely witnessed as an adult. It was wonderful to have parts of the old John back, if only for a couple of weeks, as he reached out to heal some of the rifts caused by his paranoia.
John made many friends and was quick to reach out and help those who were similarly struggling. What can be a lonely and isolated life-and to have a soul as beautiful as John's to share that insufferable journey-was a beautiful blessing.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or mental health issues, there is help in Kalamazoo through the ISK Crisis Hotline 269.373.6000.
John was preceded in death by his grandparents Gerrit and Nellie Van Dyk; grandparents Lambert and Josie Dykstra; father, Marvin Van Dyk; and nephew, Milo Van Dyk
He is survived by his mother, Jelene (Marvin Baas) Van Dyk; brothers, Tim (Renea) Van Dyk and David Van Dyk; and nephews, Jonah Van Dyk and Michael "Nick" Bernick. He is survived by many aunts, uncles, and cousins.
The family will receive friends Sunday, January 7, 2024 from 2-4:00pm at Langeland Family Funeral Homes Burial and Cremation Services, 411 E Centre Ave, Portage, Michigan 49002, where a service will be held at 4:00pm.
Contributions in John's memory may be made to Residential Opportunities, Inc. or Kalamazoo Nature Center.
To share a memory or leave a condolence for the family visit https://www.langelands.com.