Life Story / Obituary
Andi was born in Hammond, Indiana, a fact she chose to either repress or assertively ignore. The ancestral home was in Lansing, Illinois, and the fact that the closest hospital was across the state line was simply an inconvenient truth. She was the third child of Art and Joan Hoekman Meeter. Brothers Glenn and Duane preceded her into the family, sister Susan and brother Jon followed. Her years in Lansing were happy, but rather brief as the family moved to Racine, Wisconsin in 1947 so Art could manage the Meeter’s Kraut business.
Andi’s childhood was typical of a middle class family during the period. Her mom did not work outside the home, and Joan’s dedication to the family had a profound influence on Andi. The family attended the Racine Christian Reformed Church, and Andi went to the Racine Christian School. Both were located across town from the Meeter’s home, necessitating lengthy rides on public buses to attend the school. She often recalled the joy she had experienced as she watched gifts being beautifully wrapped in a downtown department store while she waited to transfer buses. The school had two classrooms, one for grades one to four, and the second room for grades five to eight. In spite of the challenging classroom environment, Andi flourished. Upon graduation, she attended the Racine Lutheran High School, and frequently shared positive thoughts about her high school years.
Andi had fond memories of her childhood years. She enjoyed life in Racine, and often wistfully mentioned the family Saturday night “take-out” suppers… Chinese, pizza, hamburgers, or an offering from a new restaurant. Sunday breakfast included kringle, a Scandinavian pastry from Bendtsen’s Bakery. In later years Bendtsen’s became an absolute “must stop” for any family member traveling anywhere close to Racine. Andi loved going to Grandma Meeter’s house in Lansing to play with her cousins, or to enjoy festive Christmas celebrations surrounded by her extended family. The Meeter family annually vacationed in Ellison Bay in Door County, Wisconsin. She cherished the time she spent fishing with her dad, a time of conversation and companionship. Although she later moved to the opposite side of Lake Michigan, Door County always held a special place in her heart.
In 1959, Andi followed several generations of family members to Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With her ready smile and engaging nature she made and retained friends easily, and earned colleagues’ respect serving on the Student Council. She also caught the attention of a young man from Grand Rapids, Don Dekker. Their friendship blossomed into love, and they were blessed with 54 years of marriage.
They were also blessed with three children, Greg, Jackie and Jeff. Andi immersed her children in love and nurtured each child as a special, unique gift. She was also the glue that held the household together as Don’s job required frequent travel.
A life of service was a natural consequence and integral part of her Christian faith. She felt it was an immense privilege to participate in and later serve as a discussion leader for Bible Study Fellowship. Her life was enriched by service at Shawnee Park Christian Reformed Church where she sang in the choir, served as a deacon, was a Calvinette and later Young Peoples leader. She was also a member of the Social Justice Committee that launched Ramoth House, today known as Safe Haven Ministries. In later years Don and Andi were members at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church where Andi was able to praise and serve her Lord by singing in the choir, as well as sharing her gifts as a deaconess and on several committees and projects.
As her children entered school full-time, Andi began a career outside the home. She first worked part-time as a receptionist in a physicians’ office, then began a 13 year stint at Mazda Great Lakes. Her initial role was as a part-time receptionist, and that later expanded into full-time positions in Human Resources, and later in the Service and Parts Department. Her outside-the-home career concluded at Calvin College, first in Alumni Relations and later in the President’s Office. Her warm personality allowed her to comfortably navigate through her changing employment surroundings… and also add new friends.
She joined with college friends to form a book club which met for the first time on the day President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. Her devotion to making new friends while keeping the old is demonstrated by the fact that the group is still active and vibrant.
Meaningful relationships were vital to Andi, and the longevity of those relationships is a testimony to the essential role they filled in her life. She and Don have been part of two dinner groups for over 30 years. She treasured the relationships made in her intimate Renovare Bible study, and hosted her “Purplehood” friends at her home for lunch in January, 2017. Friendships were to be nurtured, not discarded to make room for new opportunities.
Her social nature more than athletic prowess motivated her to step beyond her comfort zone to learn and enjoy tennis, cross country skiing and golf… although it took a personal note from Arnold Palmer to motivate her to use her new golf clubs.
As her children grew, flourished, and married, she embraced their spouses and eagerly awaited grandchildren. The gift of eight grandchildren brought immense joy, and she relished the opportunity to spend time with them. She read books, played games, made cookies, dyed Easter eggs, rode roller coasters and jumped on trampolines with grandchildren… all done with her wonderful smile expressing her love and gratitude for the gift of time with those for whom she had so much love and affection.
Andi and Don enjoyed vacations with their children, grandchildren, and also by themselves. Whether traveling or at a cottage, ocean-front home, or Disneyworld, Andi’s primary concern was always for the enjoyment and comfort of others.
Andi might best be described using words like sincere, caring, gentle, loving, selfless, empathetic, unassuming or sweet. Meticulous about her appearance but not vain. Aware of other’s shortcomings but not critical. Eager to compliment and never jealous. Pride and arrogance were not components of her DNA. She shared willingly with others, yet could be a bit frugal with her own family. For example, she stuffed Don’s jacket pockets with homemade popcorn to avoid the “extortion” prices at the theater at the same time she was urging him to take Greg, Jackie and Jeff to the original Star Wars movie because she knew the kids were eager and excited to see the movie.
Andi gracefully accepted the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, and without complaint endured the losses to body and mind as the disease continued its relentless progression.
But no disease could conquer her sweet, gentle spirit, her engaging smile or her deep faith and trust in her Lord and Savior.
ad Dei gloriam
Andrea J. “Andi” Dekker was born on February 26, 1942 and died peacefully in Grand Rapids, MI on February 22, 2017. She is survived by Don, her husband of 54 years; son Greg and his wife, Rebecca and their children, Jake and Eric; daughter Jackie and her husband, Brad Meek and their children, Alex, Sam and Lydia; and son Jeff and his wife Sara and their children, Anne, Max and Grace. Andrea is also survived by her siblings, Glenn and Marlene Meeter, Duane and Marge Meeter, Susan Meeter and Barbara Cook, Jon Meeter and Barbara White; and sister-in-law Mary and husband Mart Hollebeek. Visitation will be held at the Zaagman Memorial Chapel, 2800 Burton St. SE from 2-4 and 6-8 PM Thursday, March 2, 2017. A Memorial Service will be held at 11 AM on Friday, March 3, 2017 at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church, 107 LaGrave Avenue SE with the Rev. Ruth Boven and the Rev. Peter Jonker officiating. Those who wish to make a memorial contribution are encouraged to consider Safe Haven Ministries, 3501 Lake Eastbrook SE #335, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 or Blue Lake Public Radio, 300 E. Crystal Lake Rd, Twin Lake, MI 49457. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read Andi’s Life Story, archive a memory, photo, or sign the guestbook online.