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Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Kenneth VanDoorne, words such as steadfast, honorable, and compassionate come to mind as he was such an inspiration to those around him. He was a man of faith, and through the way he lived his life every day he exemplified what it means to be the hands and feet of the Lord he loved. A loving husband and father, Kenneth was stern when needed, but the guidance he gave was always deeply rooted in love. A hardworking man, he took his role as the provider for his family to heart, and he was well respected by all who knew him. Life will never be the same without Kenneth here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
It was great to be an American during the vibrant days of the Roaring Twenties. Innovation was leading the way to new technologies and our everyday lives were changed due to things like radios, refrigerators, and washing machines. Amidst this exciting time was a time of great anticipation in the lives of Peter and Kate (Diephouse) VanDoorne as they were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as September appeared on the horizon in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1922. The big day finally arrived on September 5th when the baby boy they named Kenneth drew his first breath. He was one of four VanDoorne children as he was raised in the family home on the West Side alongside his siblings, Clarence, Stella, and Doris. His family attended the 12th Street Christian Reformed Church, which is where he learned to embrace the faith he held near and dear to his heart throughout his life. Kenneth attended West Side Christian School and Christian High School and also took some business classes at Davenport College. He loved singing throughout his entire lifetime including singing with his family and also as a charter member of the King's Choraliers.
As a young man, Kenneth was eager for all that life had in store. He served in the United States Army during WWII in the Philippians. While in the military Kenneth was a supply clerk in the Pacific Theater, and he was discharged in 1946. After the service, Kenneth worked in construction.
New and exciting changes were in store for Kenneth when he met the young woman of his dreams. Her name was Delia Stehouwer, and they met on a blind date that was set up by mutual friends. That date led to more dates, and with a desire to establish a life together Kenneth and Delia were united in marriage in 1948. The newlyweds initially lived with their parents, but Kenneth and his brother-in-law, Vern, later built their house on 7th Street. When they decided to grow their family through adoption, Kenneth and Delia were thrilled to get their name added to the waiting list. When their name was second from the top, three month old twin girls became available to them when the first couple passed on the opportunity. The VanDoornes were overjoyed to jump at the opportunity, and their lives were richly blessed by their daughters, Kathy and Karen. He was actively involved in his daughters’ lives, and he always challenged his girls to do their best, and then maybe a little bit more. As family they loved taking family trips to Big Star Lake, Lake Ann, and they also enjoyed traveling to Northern Michigan. Kenneth could be strict, but he always disciplined with love and encouragement. When the kids were young, he was a dispatcher for Holland Motor Express. In 1984, Kenneth was deeply saddened with the death of his beloved Delia.
Throughout his life Kenneth was one to keep busy. After retiring, he drove for Bethany, drove a pickup bus for Gold Avenue, built many wheelchair ramps, and worked as a handyman for many people. With a desire to love and bless others, he visited shut-ins and helped others in any other way he could as he would willingly give anything to someone in need. Kenneth loved hymns and country gospel music, and his favorite book was the Bible. Although he enjoyed a variety of different foods, his favorite was Arnie’s Thursday night special.
All who knew Kenneth Van Doorne would agree that he was an extraordinary man to know and love. He was gentle and kind with a heart that beat to love and serve others in ways both great and small. Kenneth loved his family and savored every moment they shared. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
VANDOORNE, Kenneth, Grand Rapids, MI, Age 94, passed away February 8, 2017 with his loving family at his side. His life was lived to serve his God and others. He served our country in the US Army during WW II. Kenneth was born September 5, 1922 in Grand Rapids to the late Peter and Kate (Diephouse) VanDoorne. He was married for 35 years to Delia Stehouwer who preceded him in death in 1984. Also preceding him in death were his brother and sister, Clarence VanDoorne and Stella Bergman. Kenneth will be missed by his daughters, Kathy (Michael) Afton of Rockford and Karen (John) Styf of Stevensville; grandchildren, Katie (Scott) Lull, Keith (Marnie) Meerman, Kimberly (Andrew) Fix, Kristi (Ryan) Kral, Joni Afton, Jon (Britany) Afton, Julia Afton, Kristen (Charles) Rollerson, Jeffrey (Sarah) Styf, Kara (Jeffrey) Wroblewski, Jonathan (Nicole) Styf; 12 great grandchildren; and his sister, Doris Klop of Grand Haven. His funeral service will be held on Saturday, February 11th at 11 AM at West Leonard Christian Reformed Church 1053 Leonard St NW. Friends may visit with the family beginning at 10 AM. Interment will be at Rosedale Memorial Park. Memorials may be made to Bethany Christian Services or West Side Christian School. Please visit Kenneth’s Personal web page to learn more of his life story, leave a memory, a condolence or sign the guest book atwww.lifestorynet.com.