Wednesday, August 19, 2015
2:00 PM EDT
New Community Church
2340 Dean Lake NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Walter H. Van Meeteren was a dutiful professional, attentive family man and engaging friend. He prioritized his responsibilities to his own children and school children, and over the years, he impacted a multitude of those under his care. Walt was firm in his faith and intent on living it out as an act of love for God.
Walter Henry was born March 12, 1932 to Peter and Rena (Woudstra) Van Meeteren in Hospers, Iowa at a time when families were struggling to survive the Great Depression. However, farm families such as the Van Meeterens were self-sufficient enough to always have the basics of life. Along with his older brothers Ade and Chuck and older sisters Jenny and Alice, Walter grew up with his share of farm chores and an accompanying work ethic that remained with him his entire life.
As a youngster, Walter put his hard work and athleticism to sports. He played every sport available to him but was particularly skilled as a baseball pitcher. In later years, he would pitch in baseball and softball leagues, but as a boy, such sporting activities no doubt contributed to his reputation as a “good kid.” In fact, Walter was the type of child who tried to keep others out of mischief, and if they stuck with him, they likely succeeded.
Walter attended Christian grade school and graduated from Hospers High School before joining the US Naval Reserves. He served as ship clerk in San Diego, California for three years and never took military leave, because his duties required him to work when most others were away. When he was honorably discharged, Walter renewed acquaintances back home, most notably with Leora Poppema, who lived in the same neighborhood.
Leora “Lee” was the sister of a former classmate, and though she was eight years younger than Walter, the two began dating. He was respectful of the age difference and insisted that she socialize with her friends and participate in their activities. At the same time, Walt registered at Northwestern Junior College and worked for the highway commission for Iowa Public Service. When Leora completed high school, she moved to Michigan to live with her brother. Walt followed, not only to be near her but also to attend Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. On June 17, 1958, the loving couple married in Iowa and made a honeymoon out of their return trip to Michigan.
Seeking an education degree at Calvin, Walt did his student teaching at Ottawa Hills High School. After graduating in 1960, he accepted a teaching position in Grand Rapids at Plymouth Christian School and took courses at Michigan State University to earn a master’s degree. In his second year at Plymouth Christian, Walter was asked to take on some administrative responsibilities, which he did for the next 16 ½ years. Not afraid of manual labor, Walt’s tasks included custodial work, bus driving and anything else that needed to be done in addition to teaching and his duties as principal. After more than 17 years at Plymouth, Walt was called to Ada Christian School where he served for another 17 years. As an educator, he showed a fondness for students in treating them firmly but fairly and gently yet with high expectations. Over many decades of dedication to children and their education, it was little wonder that returning students would thank Mr. Van Meeteren for the influential role he played in their lives.
Although Walter always had a lot of work to do at school, he did his best to be home at 5:00 PM to spend time with his three boys—Mark, Scott and Todd. Not unlike his demeanor with students, Walt was a firm disciplinarian yet patient and always available to his sons. As a family, the Van Meeterens spent many summer vacations visiting family back in Iowa, and as a couple, Lee and Walt enjoyed trips that they scheduled around his professional conferences. In their motor home, they could take their time as they took in the sights across the country.
At home, Walt applied his meticulous work habits to his house and grounds. He painted and did yard work that included shoveling snow in winter. He was so used to throwing his back into his labor that the move to using a snowblower was difficult for Walt.
When Walter retired after 34 years of administration, he settled into a lifestyle that he had not experienced before. He worked for a brief time at Baker Books in the packaging department and appreciated having a job in which someone was telling him what to do, rather than him always having to be in charge. He also enjoyed reading more, especially books that he didn't "have" to read. By that time, Walt had become a grandfather and he loved spending time with his grandchildren, creating memories such as camping together at Brower Park.
Walt also enjoyed time with friends, and while he wouldn’t describe himself as being particularly outgoing, he was very conversational. Add his quick wit and dry sense of humor to that quality and it was apparent that Walt was both interested and interesting.
As a man of faith, Walter and his family were supported in Christian service by the communities of Oakdale Park Christian Reformed Church, Riverside Christian Reformed Church and then New Community Church. He lived what he believed, most profoundly from the Bible passage in Micah 6: “God has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
In his 60s, Walt began showing signs of Parkinson's Disease, but he remained active for many years. However after experiencing two falls, the most recent in his late 70s, Walt acknowledged that he needed more day-to-day assistance. He moved to the Christian Rest Home, where he came into contact with several people he had worked with or had taught over the years. It was a pleasure for him to meet residents and receive guests as the gracious man that he was.
Walter H. Van Meeteren, age 83 of Grand Rapids, Michigan, passed away Tuesday, August 4, 2015 and entered into his eternal rest with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Surviving is his wife of 57 years, Leora "Lee"; sons, Mark, Scott and Todd Van Meeteren; daughter-in-law, Lisa Van Meeteren; grandchildren Nichole & Greg Fieldhouse, Connor, Sophie, Shawn, Randy and Lance Van Meeteren; great grandchildren Micah Owen and Evan Walter Fieldhouse; sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law Mary Ann Van Meeteren, Ron & Geneva Poppema, Kathleen Mulder, Janice & Don Dykshoorn; and several nieces and nephews. Friends are invited to visit with his family on Friday, August 7 from 2-4 and 7-9 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield NE. His memorial service will be held on Wednesday, August 19 at 2 PM at New Community Church, 2340 Dean Lake Ave NE. For those who wish, memorial contributions to the Christian Rest Home Foundation are appreciated. To read more about Walt, to share a favorite memory or to sign his guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com