Life Story / Obituary
Richard “Dick” Owens lived a life of purpose while holding his loved ones near and dear to his heart. He had an amazing sense of humor and could brighten even the darkest of days. Although Dick experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer, what made these experiences so extraordinary was sharing them with his family and friends. Although he accomplished so much of which to be proud, he was a humble man whose kind and warm demeanor made him the sort of person everyone seemed to know. Life will never be the same without Dick here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
Walter and Noreen Eva (Day) Owens welcomed the birth of a healthy baby boy they named Richard Walter on October 21, 1934, in Concord, Illinois. At the time he was born, Dick’s family lived on a farm in Concord, but the bulk of his childhood was spent in the family home on Halstead Avenue in Chicago near Wrigley Field. He was one of two Owens children as he was raised alongside his sister, Norma, who was 14 months older. Dick’s father worked as traveling machine repairman for United Shoe Machinery while his mother was a fancy stitcher for Florsheim Shoes in Chicago.
In many ways Dick was a young boy of his generation. While growing up his family vacationed at a cottage on Lake Puckaway in Wisconsin, and they also visited his grandparent’s farm. Holidays were spent with big dinners and tons of laughter. Growing up next to Wrigley Field meant that Dick and his friends would regularly sneak into the ball field to watch games. Later, his brother-in-law was nicknamed “Jumping Jake” because he was a ski jumper. On one occasion, he and Dick decided to go down the ski jump on a toboggan. They managed to survive, but they never did that again! Dick attended Alcott Elementary in Chicago and later went on to Lane Tech High School in Chicago. A gifted artist, Dick entered a water color painting titled “Across the Track” in the Rockford area young artist competition. His painting ended up winning first place and was put on display at the art gallery in Rockford, Illinois. Dick also played baseball and basketball during high school years. He received his diploma from Beloit Memorial High in Beloit, Wisconsin.
In 1954, Dick enlisted into the Marines. He served in Atsugi, Japan, during the Korean Conflict for many years. Dick played half-back for the Marines Atsugi Flyers Football Team. In honor of his service, Dick received the Good Conduct Medal and was discharged in 1957.
Throughout his life, Dick was known for his strong work ethic. He worked in the Midwest distribution department for Herman Miller until retiring in 1992 after 16 years. While at Herman Miller, he received the outstanding employee award in 1983 and most outstanding team in 1990.
There was never anything of greater significance to Dick than his loved ones. He was married to Kathleen Gerritsen, and together they welcomed three children including Patti Ann, Lynn Marie, and Jill Kathleen into their hearts and home.
Life turned a new corner for Dick when he met Laurie VanderStoep who was the president of the Widowed Persons Services in Grandville, Michigan. They met at the Ottawa Beach Inn, and their love was easy to see. Dick and Laurie were married in 1987, and they lived in a condo in Grandville. He was also blessed with the addition of his stepson, Scott, into his life. Dick and Laurie loved traveling together. He also loved spending time at their cottage in Lakeview on Townline Lake where he could often be found out fishing. Dick loved having family out to the cottage. Dick and Laurie especially loved traveling during their retirement years and regularly visited Arizona and Mexico. He was a devoted, proud, and loving father. Dick enjoyed long conversations with each of his kids, giving advice and guidance when needed. He believed in hard work, integrity, and doing the right thing no matter how tough the situation may be. These were all character traits he instilled within his children based on the way he lived his life. Dick encouraged his children to love and respect their mother, and to love and take care of themselves.
Dick was a man of many interests. He was a huge Michigan and Detroit Lions fan, and he loved Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way.” Aside from his family, Dick’s greatest source of pride and joy was found in his cars. His most cherished car was his last, a 1998 Black 2-door Cadillac Eldorado. When it came to his favorite foods, he loved cold cut sandwiches, cheese and crackers, and Kentucky Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy as well as home-cooked meals.
With his great sense of humor and fun-loving personality, Richard Owens was a blessing to everyone he met. Through the life he lived each day, he taught others to work hard, to respect others, and to be strong no matter the circumstances around them. Dick remained true to who he was until his last days, and in everything he did he was a true gentleman. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
Richard Walter (Dick) Owens, of Holland, MI, passed away on Monday morning, July 31, 2017. He is predeceased by his wife Dolores Jean VanderStoep Owens and grandson, Riley Hoeksema. Dick’s family includes his children, Patti (Ernest) Fitzgerald, Lynn (Matthew) Hoeksema, Jill Owens, and Scott (Jill) VanderStoep; grandchildren, Eric (Allison) VandeVusse, Michael VandeVusse, Adam (Kimberly) Fitzgerald, Nora Fitzgerald, Benjamin Sluiter, Allison Hoeksema, Christian Hoeksema, Amy VanderStoep, Mark VanderStoep and Alli VanderStoep; great-grandchildren; sister, Norma Jacobs; sister-in-law, Lois (Wayne) Milbrand; and nephews and nieces. Dick was preceded in death by his wife Dolores Jean VanderStoep Owens. A memorial service to celebrate Richard’s life will be held on August 5, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. at First Reformed Church, 630 State St., Holland, MI 49423 with a celebration of life visitation from 12-2 p.m. at Macatawa Bay Yacht Club, 2157 S. Shore Drive, Macatawa, MI 49434. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read his lifestory, archive a memory, photo, or sign the guestbook online.