Friday, May 11, 2018
1:00 PM EDT
North Park Baptist Church
3365 Coit Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Friends may visit with Norm's family at the church from 12 Noon until 12:45 PM
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.
Alpha Women's Center of Grand Rapids
1725 Division Street
Grand Rapids, MI 49507
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Norman VanderStel, it is easy to see that there was no one who met him and left unchanged. He was known for his strong work ethic, and he loved to use his time, gifts, and talents to help others in ways both great and small. Norm was guided by an unwavering faith, and his life exemplified what it means to be the hands and feet of the Lord he loved. A devoted family man, he was filled with great joy to become a father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Although he will be deeply missed, Norm will never be forgotten.
The 1930s were a time unlike any other as the Great Depression covered our nation and much of the world throughout the entire decade. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and things only became more dire with a drought that covered our nation’s heartland during this same time. Despite the trials around them, Bertrum and Mabel (Groeneveld) VanderStel were able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their own lives as they announced the birth of the healthy baby boy they named Norman on August 9, 1937, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.The 9th of 10 children, he was raised on the Southeast side of Grand Rapid near Caledonia. Norm’s father was a banker, but they lived on a small farm.
In many ways Norman was a young man of his generation. From his father he learned to love both hunting and fishing as well as the value of hard work. Norm’s father assigned chores to the kids, and among Norm’s chores were riding his bike to the neighbors to get milk and picking berries. The neighbors had horses, and Norm liked riding them. He learned to play baseball, playing in high school, and even throwing a no hitter once. Even though Norm was scouted and had dreams of playing in the major leagues, he declined. The faith he treasured throughout his life was established while growing up as Norm and his family were members of Kelloggsville Christian Reformed Church.
Not to be forgotten during his years in high school was Norm’s introduction to the woman of his dreams. Her name was Connie Jean Berg, and they met when he went to East Leonard Baptist Church with some friends. Smitten, Norm passed her a note. They dated over the three years that followed, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Norm and Connie were married on September 20, 1957, at the same church. The newlyweds then took a honeymoon to Chicago. Truth be told, Connie was a bit surprised that they got there at all with Norm’s lacking a sense of direction! After returning to Grand Rapids, they settled in a small two bedroom home on the South side of town. There, the family grew to include four children, Norman, Tim, Anne, and Brian. They then built a house on Bird Avenue, NE, which became home for the rest of his life. While there, the family was completed with the birth of their son, Cameron.
As a father, Norm was second to none. He was kind of a softie as he didn’t like to discipline much. It was important that he was home almost every night, which meant that he even turned down more lucrative sales positions that would have taken him away for overnights. Norm enjoyed taking his kids fishing, let them enjoy minibikes around the yard, and he was able to fix most anything. As a family they enjoyed camping trips, and they also had a couple of boats over the years that they took out on local lakes and the Grand River. Norm often made up bedtime stories for Anne, and he usually told the boys stories from his childhood. He had learned to play the guitar and harmonica as a kid and occasionally treated the family to some songs. Later on, Norm was thrilled to become a grandfather. He had a real knack for getting the little ones to fall asleep as everyone knew not to give a young one to Norm if they wanted the child to be awake! Norm and Connie even created a playhouse for the grandchildren, and at Christmastime Norm always shared a meaningful story for the grandchildren prior to opening gifts.
Throughout his life Norm was known for his strong work ethic. He worked for a few different companies beginning with CB Meyer. From there he went to J.A. White Distributing. Norm started out as traffic manager, but he eventually worked his way into sales. He remained there for many years, which made him one of the last employees before they closed. Norm then spent over 20 years working at at Mor Electric Heating. Norm was an amazing salesman as he was not only hardworking, but he was also a man of integrity and honesty. In fact, he was still at work just this week! What made Norm so good at his job was that he took the time to get to know his customer and their specific needs. He was also able to problem solve efficiently, which was a skill he carried into the other side jobs he had over the years including repairing both televisions and radios. That shop later became a woodshop in which he would make something that Connie designed so she could then finish and paint it. They were an amazing team, and there were many in the family who received the things they made as gifts.
Norm made sure to continue a legacy of faith as the family worshipped together each Sunday. For many years, they were active members at Blythefield Baptist Church, then Calvary Church, and for the last many years they were at North Park Baptist Church. Wherever they were attending, Norm served in a variety of ways including as a Sunday school teacher, on the board, singing in the choir, volunteering, or helping with the Friendship Club where kids loved to listen to his stories. He always made prayer a priority, and he encouraged others to do the same.
A man of humility, honor, and strength, Norman VanderStel was an extraordinary man to know and love. He told the best stories and liked making others laugh in his own quiet way. Norm wasn’t afraid to show his faith in the things that he did, and his love for both his Lord and his family was easy to see. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
Norman VanderStel, age 80 of Grand Rapids, beloved husband of Connie Jean (Berg), went to be with his Lord and Savior on May 7, 2018. In addition to his wife, Norm is survived by his children Norman & Loni, Tim & Ingrid, Anne & Joe Dakoske, Brian & Paula, Cameron & Laura; 28 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren; brothers and sisters John VanderStel, Maynard & Arva VanderStel, Marjorie & Fred Corson, and June Stutzman; sister-in-law Polly VanderStel as well as numerous other sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews. Norm was preceded in death by his grandchildren Matthew and Angela VanderStel; sisters Marion (Lee) Landis, Coral (Jim) Sluiter and Dorothy; and by his brothers Robert and Louis VanderStel. The service to remember and celebrate Norm's life will be held on Friday, May 11 at 1 PM at North Park Baptist Church. Friends are invited to visit with his family on Thursday from 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE, and on Friday at the church from 12 -12:45 PM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Alpha Womens Center, Life Matters Worldwide, or Exalta Health are appreciated. To read more about Norm's life, to share a memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, please visit www.lifestorynet.com