Life Story Funeral Homes®
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Life Story Funeral Homes®
The exclusive providers of the Life Story Experience

Richard A. DeWitt

July 26, 2010
Palm Beach Gardens, FL




Richard Adrian DeWitt of Holland, Michigan passed away on Monday evening July 26 at the age of 96. He was the 7th child of Dutch immigrant parents and was raised on an 80 acre farm in Allegan County. Dick joined the navy when he was 20 and served, based in San Diego, California. From there, he sent for and married his high school sweetheart, Julia Schipper.

After serving for four years, Dick returned to Zeeland Michigan, contributed $500 of his Navy savings and joined his brothers, Ben and Jack DeWitt. By 1936 the three brothers purchased their first incubator. Their facility was a former filling station between Washington and Franklin Street in Zeeland, - where Dick, as a teenager, had pumped gas. From there grew the expansion of the Zeeland Hatchery, a turkey processing facility, and DeWitts Modern Feeds. Patented in 1948, the DeWitt Brothers developed the first automated chain to facilitate the feeding of 100,000 birds at one time. From the humble chain grew the origins of the all-comprehensive automated equipment company named Big Dutchman.

By the late 1950's, when US exports represented 4% of the nation’s GNP, Dick and Jack DeWitt saw the potential of an overseas market. The base for their overseas divisions was in Wezep, The Netherlands. In October 1964, Big Dutchman was awarded the coveted "E" Citation from President Johnson for "outstanding contributions to the export expansion program of the United States.

Dick was a member of Hope Church and Christ Memorial in Holland. He was elected to the Board of Trustees at Hope College from 1970 to 1976 and remained an honorary member there. He also was a member of the Amway Mutual Fund Board for 25 years.

Dick's son Richard Schipper DeWitt (Skip) died on June 27, 2007.

Surviving Richard are his brother Jack DeWitt (aged 99); his wife, Betty Ripma DeWitt; his stepson, Gordon Ripma and stepdaughter, Pam Tignor. Surviving from his marriage to Mary Lou Schueller DeWitt are his stepson Doug Schueller and stepdaughter Tracy Schueller. Surviving from his first marriage of 50 years to Julia DeWitt are his daughters Judith Anne DeWitt Appleton and Kathleen DeWitt Hughes; and a daughter-in-law, Eunice DeWitt. Also surviving are many many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

To the end, Dick never lost his passion for music and literature. Having memorized volumes of poetry as a young man, he retained them and recited from them - Keats and Shakespeare ever his favorites - long after his stroke in 2005. Generous and loving, all caring, he remained a mentor to his family to the end.

Funeral services will be held on Tuesday August 3, 2010 at 1:00pm in the Chapel of Christ Memorial Church, 595 Graafschap Road with Dr. Timothy Brown officiating.

Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service at Christ Memorial Church Burial will take place in Zeeland Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be given to Hospice of Palm Beach County, 5300 East Avenue, West Palm Beach, FL, 33407.

Arrangements by the Dykstra Life Story Funeral Homes, Mulder Chapel,