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Life Story / Obituary
Although he was taken from his loved ones much too soon, Roger Datema, Jr. made a significant impact in the lives of everyone he met. He was one of the nicest people around, and he was instantly accepting of all people. Roger was a sports fan who was a fanatic when it came to University of Michigan sports. He was never one to worry about the little things, rather, he was the sort of person who took everything in stride. He worked hard, but he played hard, too, and his courteous and humble personality drew others near with ease. Deeply loved, Roger will be forever missed.
The 1960s were an exciting time in our nation. Early on we elected the young John F. Kennedy as our 35th President of the United States, and this was also when civil rights came to the forefront. By the end of the decade it was America that was victorious in the space race between our nation and the Soviet Union as we put the first man on the moon. It was also as this decade was nearing the end that Roger and Kathleen (Krieve) Datema, Sr. were eagerly anticipating the birth of their new baby as the beauty of summer unfolded in Rantoul, Illinois, in June of 1969. Their wait was over on June 18th when the baby boy they named Roger Jr. made his arrival. At the time of his birth his parents were stationed on the local Air Force base, and when he was two years old they moved to an Air Force base in Biloxi, Mississippi. When he was four, the Datema family made their way to Grand Rapids, Michigan, which is where he spent the rest of his life.
Joined in his family by his sister, Melissa, Roger was a typical young boy of his generation. He was active in sports as he played baseball and football as well as plenty of neighborhood kickball games in the vacant sand lot. The neighborhood kids were all really close, and the Datema house was generally the preferred hangout spot. Roger’s sister was the tag along, and of course she was generally on the receiving end of the teasing. As a teen he could often be found hanging out at Aladdin's Arcade at the North Kent Mall. Roger also enjoyed fishing while he was growing up. As a young man he emerged as a natural leader, although this was not by choice. Roger also became a humble person as he grew into adulthood as well. In addition to holding down his studies in high school, he worked for Vern’s Gas Station. While in college Roger earned some spending money as a delivery man for Pizza Hut.
Throughout his life, Roger maintained an active lifestyle. He made a career as a tool and die maker with Mahle Industries. In his free time, Roger was often focused on sports whether he was supporting his local Northview high school athletic teams or cheering on the University of Michigan. In fact, it has been said that Roger was a fanatic of U of M sports, the Detroit Lions, and the Detroit Tigers. He loved boating on Lake Michigan, and he made plenty of visits to his favorite restaurant, Fricano’s Pizza.
All who knew Roger Datema would agree that he had a heart of gold. He was the sort of person who would do anything for anyone, and his fun-loving personality was easy to see. Intelligent and hardworking, Roger was deeply devoted to his community. Descried as gentle and loving, he will never be forgotten.
Roger A. Datema, Jr., of Grand Rapids, passed away unexpectedly at his home on Monday, February 8, 2016. He was born on June 18, 1969 in Rantoul, IL the son of Roger and Kathleen (Krieve) Datema, Sr. Roger was employed as a Tool & Die maker with Mahle Industries. He was a fanatic U of M, Detroit Lions and Tigers fan. Roger treated everyone well, he will be remembered as the nicest guy who would do anything for anybody. Besides his parents, he is survived by his sister, Melissa (Kurt) Hein of Grand Rapids; niece and nephew, Brooke and Mitchell Hein. Also surviving are Roger's children, Samantha Datema, Brandon Datema, Holly Datema, Nicholas Datema, Megan Datema, Tyler Datema, Christopher Datema, Isabella Datema, Alexander Datema, and Jordan Leigh; and several aunts, uncles, and cousins. Friends may visit with the family on Monday February 15th from 11-1:00 pm at the Heritage Lifestory Funeral Home, Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE. A funeral will be held at 1:00 pm at the chapel. Memorials may be made to the American Heart Association. To sign Roger's guest book and to leave your own memory of him, visit his web page at www.lifestorynet.com.