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.
Plymouth Christian School Foundation
965 Plymouth N.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
Life Story / Obituary
Throughout his long life’s journey, Marvin Van Ess lived a life of purpose while holding his loved ones near. He was well respected and accomplished in his field, the sort of person others knew they could count on. Marvin experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer, but what made these experiences all the better was sharing them with the ones he loved. A devoted husband and father, he was so very proud to become a grandfather and great-grandfather later in life. Although he was taken from his loved ones without warning, Marvin’s family will forever treasure the memories they made together.
The 1930s were harsh days in America as the entire decade was cloaked in the dark days of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and countless American families lost their homes. Despite the trials around them, Simon and Jeanette (DeGraaf) Van Ess were able to focus on an exciting time in their own lives as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Marvin J. on February 7, 1934. Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he was one of four children to be raised in the family home on Lafayette, NE as he was joined in the Van Ess family by his siblings, Margaret, Joan, and James.
In many ways Marvin was a young boy of his generation. He did the things that so many other young people did like attending school, school events, and various activities as well as church on a regular basis. Marvin and his family were members of the Netherlands Reformed Congregation, and as a student he attended elementary school at Hastings Street Christian School, which was the school affiliated with the church the family attended. From there he went to Creston High School where he completed the 12 grade. While growing up Marvin developed a love for history, and later in life he was particularly interested in learning about and researching WWII.
After completing high school, Marvin joined the United States Army. He was sent to Korea where he served in the Peace Keeping Forces, guarding the border between the North and South Korea, and he also served in Japan for a time. With his military duties fulfilled, Marvin returned home and began working for Walter Hagen Golf Club Company as a truck driver. This perhaps was his first introduction to the game of golf, which he enjoyed in later years. After working there for a year, Marvin went to work at Imperial Metal Products in Grand Rapids where he remained for over 40 years. He was a “trouble shooter” for the company, fixing problem machines and making them work correctly to produce the products as they were supposed to.
Not to be forgotten during Marvin’s years as a young man was his blossoming relationship with the woman who would change the course of his life forever. Her name was Elizabeth (Betty) Phillips, and they met at church as she attended the same church he did. They began dating, and it didn’t take them long to fall in love. With a desire to establish a life together, Marvin and Betty were married on June 5, 1959, in a beautiful ceremony. Together they welcomed three children including Susan, Richard, and Laurie into their hearts and home. The entire family looked forward to summers when they traveled extensively during his two weeks of vacation. Most of their vacations were taken by car, and together they went all over the country. Much of their travels were focused out West since Marvin just loved it out there. Banff and Lake Louise were favorites along with several trips to various places in Colorado and other western states. He could always remember the route traveled on the trips as well as the names of the highways they took.
Over the years Marvin was always doing something and was a man of many interests. For years he enjoyed biking and was known to take his bike and ride from his northeast home all the way to Cedar Springs and back in one day. This ended up being a total distance of about 40 miles. Marvin also liked golfing and would golf with both family and friends. Around home he loved being outside doing yard work and gardening. Marvin and Betty always had time to hear a lecture about a historical event or to visit interesting places. During their retirement years he and Betty traveled extensively to Europe where they took several river cruises. Together they also went to Australia and New Zealand as well as to Hawaii and Alaska. Marvin loved traveling and as someone who loved history, he loved learning the history of all the places they visited.
Nothing was ever of greater significance in Marvin’s life than being with his wife, children, and grandchildren. His grandchildren called him Grampa while his great-grandchildren called him Grampa Great. Marvin simply loved playing with all of the young ones and teasing them, too. He and Betty were true companions who just loved being together. Although he had a few health issues, he and Betty were still planning on taking some trips in the near future.
All who knew Marvin Van Ess would agree that he was an extraordinary man to know and love. He lived life to its fullest and gave everything his all. Marvin worked hard, but he took the time to enjoy life along the way as well. He was never one to worry about the little things, rather, he faced whatever came his way and was content in all things. Deeply loved, Marvin will be forever missed.
VAN ESS – Mr. Marvin J. Van Ess, aged 83 of Grand Rapids passed away Thursday November 16, 2017. He was preceded in death by his sister Margaret Dole and brother James Van Ess. He is survived by his wife, of 58 years, Betty Van Ess, his children: Susan and John Bazen, Richard and Consuelo Van Ess, Laurie and Pete VanderStel, a daughter-in-law Cheryl Kruithof; his grandchildren: Mandy and Jon Schipper, Katie and Joel Blok, Jessica and Derek Blok, Mitchell Van Ess, Hannah Vander Stel, Olivia VanderStel, Megan VanderStel, Sophia VanderStel; 5 great grandchildren, his sister and brother-in-law Joan and John Harding, his brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law: Neal and Jo Boerkoel, Gary and Geraldine Kwekel, Karl and Lois Van Oostenbrugge, Gilbert and Eleanor DeBruine, Jim and Barb Bazen, Jerry and Peggy Phillips and several nieces and nephews. Marvin honorably served in U.S. Army serving in the peace keeping forces in Korea and Japan and was a retiree of Imperial Metal Products. Funeral services will be held Monday November 20 at 10 AM at the Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Van Strien – Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield N.E. with Rev. Maarten Kuivenhoven of the Heritage Reformed Congregation officiating. Interment will be in Fairplains Cemetery. Relatives and friends are invited to visit with his family Sunday from 2-4 and 7-9 P.M. at the funeral home. For those who wish memorial contributions to Plymouth Christian School Foundation would be appreciated. To read more of Marvin’s life, share a memory or sign the online register book please visit www.lifestorynet.com