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.
Creston Christian Reformed Church Education Fund
238 Spencer NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Throughout her rich and rewarding life, Ruth Dykema lived a life that was deeply rooted in faith and the love of family. She was a woman of courage and strength who faced whatever came her way with such grace and poise. Ruth was a loving and devoted wife and mother, but nothing compared to becoming a grandmother, great-grandmother, and even a great-great-grandmother later in life. She was a nurturer by nature, and her desire to love and serve others was easy to see. Although she will be deeply missed, she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
It was great to be an American during the Roaring Twenties. Innovation brought us things like radios, washing machines, and cars that were mass produced on assembly lines while Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh forever transformed the world of flight. Amidst this exciting time was the year 1928 when Martin and Anna (DeKorne) DenBraber were pleased to announce the birth of the baby girl they named Ruth Marilyn on July 26th. Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, she was the 5th child and only daughter, and she was quite a bit younger than her four older brothers, Bill, Bob, Jay, and Don.
In many ways, Ruth was a young girl of her generation. She was very close with her oldest brother, often accompanying him on dates, and she was always well protected and pampered as well. Of course Ruth also didn’t shy away from letting any of her brothers know her opinion when it came to their dates! She enjoyed things like ice skating, and she also attended local schools including Union High School. While growing up Ruth attended Broadway Christian Reformed Church with her family, establishing the deep roots of faith that were always apparent in her life. During the early 1940s, America sent countless young servicemen and women to serve overseas in WWII, and with some of her brothers joining the ranks Ruth was very concerned for their safety. It was also while growing up that she developed her strong willed determination that would remain with her for the rest of her life. In addition to graduating from high school, Ruth also worked as a telephone operator and also at Woolworth’s.
New and exciting changes were in store for Ruth when she met the young man of her dreams. His name was Peter Dykema, and they actually met on a double date, although they were not one another’s date that particular evening. There was a magic in the air between them, however, and it has been said that it was love at first sight. Ruth and Peter began dating, and about one year later they were united in marriage on May 17, 1948. It wasn’t too long before the couple discovered that they would be parents. Ruth and her husband were blessed with the births of four children in five years including Marilyn, Patricia, Marvin, and Sue. They spent time living in the basement of their house while it was under construction, but when she had enough of that, Ruth moved her family upstairs despite it not being completely done.
Always one to work hard, Ruth was willing to sacrifice for her family. They had a family greenhouse located on the property, and at times she put in hours there. Since a Christian education was highly important to both Ruth and Peter, she also worked at Jim’s Variety Store for a time. Because she was often working, she taught the kids some of the household skills and were in charge of some of the cleaning and cooking. Ruth was an amazing mother as she parenting with love and grace, but she also didn’t shy away from raising her voice if she needed to in order to get her children’s attention. Her nurturing skills also extended to her parents as they took in her parents as they became ill. Ruth cared for her mother for a few years until her death, and she continued to care for her father for years after. During the slower time at the greenhouse as the summer came to an end, the family looked forward to taking those few months a bit slower and often took a trip of some kind. Oftentimes they went out West, and they especially loved heading to the mountains.
Both Ruth and Peter were active and social. Much of their social life revolved around their longtime church, Creston Christian Reformed Church, where she also taught Sunday school and Bible school. Both Ruth and her husband also volunteered at North Park Chapel, evangelizing in the neighborhood. At times she volunteered for disaster relief, primarily cooking. They had several friends from church, and they often had them over on Sunday evenings. Ruth and Peter began square dancing, and it quickly became their passion that took up their evenings several times a week. They traveled all over the country to various shows, and they always looked sharp right down to their costumes. Ruth and her husband were partners not only on the dance floor but also in life as they were great communicators who always supported one another in their decisions. Peter took superb care of her, and he was always concerned about her first and foremost. They enjoyed traveling later in life including during the winters when they went to both Florida and Arizona to see family. For many years they spent several months in Arizona. At first they traveled in a van, but they later pulled a trailer and even got a motorhome as Ruth always enjoyed camping. Many months of the year were spent traveling during retirement, but they also enjoyed getting back home to see their family that grew to include grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. At times some grandchildren worked with her in the greenhouse, and sometimes they also went shopping together. Ruth was there for as many of their birthday parties and events as she could, and she even visited those who live a long distance away a couple of times each year.
In 2005, Ruth was deeply saddened with Peter’s death, but her faith and family sustained her during the weeks, months, and years that followed. She continued to travel, usually to visit family. It was while in Arizona that she fell, and after a short stay in the hospital she made the decision to come home.
Friendly, outgoing, and eager to serve others, Ruth Dykema was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She had a subtle sense of humor and a contagious zest for life that drew others near with ease. Ruth loved traveling, but even that was usually to be with her beloved family or to give of her time to those in need. She had a deep and unwavering faith that she passed on to her children. Deeply loved, Ruth will be forever missed.
Ruth Marilyn Dykema, age 87 of Grand Rapids, Michigan and Snowflake, Arizona, passed away February 5, 2016. She was preceded in death by her husband, Peter; grandson Todd; and her brothers William, Robert, James and Donald Den Braber. Ruth is survived by her children Marilyn and Stephen Rumancik of Florida, Patricia and James Cheyne of Burnips, Marvin and Janice Dykema of Grand Rapids, Sue and Jack Rice of Arizona; 16 grandchildren, 34 great grandchildren and 4 great-great grandchildren; sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law Doris Den Braber, Martha Holstege, Charles and Ruth E. Dykema, Andrew and Carrol Dykema, Benjamin and Charlene Dykema and many nieces and nephews. The service to remember and celebrate her life will be held on Friday, February 12, 2016 at 1 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave. where friends can meet with her family on Thursday from 2-4 and 7-9 PM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Creston Christian Reformed Church Education Fund are appreciated. To read more about Ruth's life, to share a memory or sign her guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com