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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Roger Driesens would agree that he was a very caring and generous person. Quiet and not much for socializing, yet he loved all people. Roger especially loved his family and was no stranger to the hard work it took to provide for them over the years. His abundant family brought him the greatest joy and he would do anything to spend time with them. A lover of the great outdoors, Roger found his richest pleasures in feeding the birds and pondering the dilemma of squirrels. He leaves behind a rich tapestry of memories shared with those he loved. There is no doubt that Roger will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by the many special loved ones in his life.
Born during a time of distinctive cultural changes and a period of sustained economic prosperity, Roger was welcomed home by William and Elizabeth (Klieboer) Driesens on August 18, 1925, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Roaring Twenties held a significant time in our nation’s history with both the Jazz music and automotive industry booming. Born to a set of hardworking parents, his father was a second generation hardware store owner and his mother was a homemaker, his birth brought much joy and happiness to the family home.
Growing up in a modest home at 914 12th Street, Roger and his siblings were raised with a strong Christian faith. Regularly attending the 12th Street Christian Reformed Church, he learned the value of building a personal relationship with his Lord and Savior. Roger and his siblings; Evelyn, Nella, Genevieve, and Bill were especially close. They spent countless summer afternoons fishing and enjoyed camping along the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan. Their childhood lives were simple back then with only the occasional reluctance of the family horse whom they would have to dismount and pull across the bridge from time to time. During his teen years, Roger had his fair share of adventure, mostly including long bike rides with just a loaf of bread and a ring of bologna to sustain him throughout the day! Typical of the times, he attended grade school through the eighth grade at West Side Christian. Afterward, he spent a year of study at the David Technical School where he learned the skills of auto mechanics which paid off during the short time he worked in his Dad’s hardware store. By the time he was of age, he was drafted along with his brother, Bill serving in the United States Army when WWII ended. During his two years of service, Roger was trained as a mechanic but was assigned as a medic serving in both Okinawa and Korea. After he was discharged, Roger and his brother, Bill took over the family store and kept up with its high demands until the competition and larger chain companies overpowered them. A natural born hard worker, Roger kept afloat working several jobs including a local paint store and even delivered bread until he landed his dream job with Godwin Hardware that lasted a remarkable 46 years!
Not to be forgotten was the meeting of the woman of his dreams, Celia “Sally” Ellens! The two of them were introduced by Roger’s very own niece when he needed a date to accompany him to the Spring Banquet. Sally was a little younger than him but was a career woman working as an LPN at St. Mary's Hospital. Eager to spend the rest of their lives together, Roger and Sally were married at the Calvin Seminary Chapel on February 7, 1958. After their reception at the Franklin Street Church next door, the happy couple honeymooned in Detroit, Michigan. Hard to believe that their first date was such a success that it led to a sixty-year marriage! They were blessed with three wonderful children; Jane, Julie, and David. As a father, Roger was the lenient one and the kids often came to him first to ask permission as they knew the answer would fall in their favor. Although he worked hard to provide for them, when he was home he was attentive and loved to spend time with them. Every year, he and Sally planned a destination vacation for a week together as a family. Some of their best memories are from those trips where they were known to enjoy one another’s company over games and laughter!
A simple man, Roger enjoyed the smaller pleasures of life. He was content to listen to hours of his favorite classical artists, especially John Phillip Sousa! He’d often turn it up to the fullest volume! When it came to foods, Roger was a well-known meat and potatoes type of guy yet would often sneak a large bowl of ice cream back when Sally was still working the third shift! Their retirement years were spent traveling, a pastime they both very much enjoyed. On many occasions, they took trips out west where their son, David was stationed in California. They also toured England, enjoyed an Alaskan cruise, and a took a wonderful fall tour down along the Eastern coast. Many times they included trips to visit with family or special friends.
As much as Roger enjoyed his years of being a father, he treasured his role as a grandfather immensely. Affectionate and supportive, he was proud of all his grandchildren had accomplished. If life could be measured by the kind acts of one’s life, Roger’s would be worthy of its weight in gold. He was faithful, loving, and above all, appreciative. He never took for granted all that life had offered him and he was grateful for each and every person that touched his life. Even in his last days, he was gracious with the staff at the rest home and all those who took exceptional care of him. Roger lived his life to the fullest and provided his family with countless small acts of love that will be reflected in the memories they share for generations to come.
Roger W. Driesens, age 92, of Grand Rapids, Michigan passed away peacefully June 29, 2018. Roger was born August 18, 1925, to the late William and Elizabeth (Klieboer) Driesens. He was a proud veteran of WWII having served in the US Army. Roger's passion was serving his Lord at West Leonard Christian Reformed Church and his customers for over 40 years at Godwin Hardware. He will be missed by his wife of 60 years, Celia “Sally;” children, Jane (David) Mouttet of Los Cruces, NM, Julie (Paul) Ritchie of Walker, David (Jody) Driesens of Rockford; grandchildren, Tiffany Mouttet, Jason (Allison) Mouttet, Nathaniel Mouttet, Danielle (Toby) Santos, Dena Driesens, Amy (Blake Vetz) Driesens, Krystal Ritchie, Jessie (Jerrad) Navaro, Wilson Driesens, Rachel Driesens; and 11 great-grandchildren. Also surviving are his sister, Genevieve Schrader of Grand Rapids; sister in law, Theresa Ellens of Grand Rapids; and many nieces and nephews. A funeral service will be held Tuesday, July 3 at 1 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Friends may visit family beginning at 12 PM. Interment will be at Rosedale Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Christian Rest Home or Faith Hospice. Please visit Roger's web page to leave a memory or condolence at www.lifestorynet.com.