Dale Edwin Gainder

April 29, 1929 - August 6, 2016
Kalamazoo, MI



Thursday, August 11, 2016
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Rupert, Durham, Marshall & Gren
Portage Location
5975 Lovers Lane
Portage, MI 49002
(269) 344-5600
Driving Directions


Friday, August 12, 2016
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM EDT
Ligthhouse Community Church
4321 S. 11th Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Web Site


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.

Lighthouse Community Church
4321 11th Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 353-7021
Web Site

Houghton College
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Polderman's Florist & Garden Center
8710 Portage Road
Portage, MI 49002
(269) 327-3656
Driving Directions

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Dale Gainder was a loving husband, wonderful father and compassionate grandfather. A faithful servant, he lived his entire life helping others. His life was richly blessed by guiding many people over the years through professional counseling and years of teaching and ministry. He was a great believer in Jesus Christ and lived his life by giving selflessly of his time and service.

Exactly six months before the stock market crash that would launch the Great Depression, Dale was born in Hickory Corners, Michigan. On April 29, 1929, Alfred and Bernice (McMartin) Gainder welcomed their newborn son.

Dale loved to work on his family’s farm as a child. His parents kept a close watch on him because a congenital heart condition limited his workload. The pediatrician warned Dale’s parents that he may not live long, but their constant prayers were answered. Other than starting school a little later than normal, his condition went unnoticed for the most part.

He had a real knack for animals while growing up. Once as a child, he owned a pet lamb and before he knew it, he was tending a small flock of sheep! At 17, he was invited to spend a week at Michigan State University with a friend to learn more about how to shear sheep. Upon his return, he discovered that the local sheep shearer was looking to retire and sell his business. With what little savings he had, Dale was excited to become an entrepreneur! He bought equipment and before even graduating high school, he was shearing sheep for 35 cents a day!

After high school, Dale felt called to the ministry and left home to attend Houghton College in New York to pursue a bachelor’s degree in ministerial studies. In 1949, the farm boy met the love of his life, a big city girl from New Jersey named Doris Burkett. They were part of a gospel team ministering to homes near campus in the Houghton area. The team called themselves the “Mud-Aires” because of the bad roads in the Houghton area. Roughly two weeks before the end of that school year, Dale and Doris prepared for their first formal date together, intending to see a concert at the college. But the plans fell through when Doris walked down the stairway in her long, yellow formal gown. Dale’s fragile heart went into fibrillation and he had to be rushed to the hospital! Missing the concert was just the beginning. He spent the remainder of that semester in the campus infirmary, sprawled out in a hospital bed. Doris faithfully nursed her new boyfriend back to health. Several years later and happily married, Dale and Doris welcomed three wonderful daughters: Sheryl, Karen and Lora.

After his college graduation in 1952, Dale successfully served as a pastor for more than 11 years at various Wesleyan churches, including Fillmore Wesleyan and Kalamazoo Wesleyan. He founded Spring Valley Wesleyan Church, welcoming the community into the family home for services. Dale very much enjoyed these years, saying they validated his close relationship to the Lord. Dale taught part-time in Delton schools before heading to Comstock High School, where he was chair of the English department. He helped make ends meet by teaching driver’s ed, surviving an estimated 50,000 miles in the passenger seat with brand new drivers. Dale went on to receive his master’s degree in counseling education and counseling psychology from Western Michigan University. He finished out his last 13 years as a school counselor before retiring. By accepting a buyout from the school, he was finally able to afford a diamond ring for his wife of 37 years.

In Dale’s spare time, he continued to minister by teaching Sunday School classes, marriage seminars, acting as church treasurer, and organizing senior luncheon events. In retirement, Dale and Doris were a constant presence at family events, enjoying many holidays, graduations, weddings and each new grandchild and great-grandchild. Dale was a faithful man of prayer and will be deeply missed by his close family, friends, and a whole community of people.

Dale Gainder of Kalamazoo passed away on Saturday, August 6th at the age of 87. His family includes his three children: Sheryl (Rand) Bowman of Portage, MI, Karen (Orville) Daniel of Van Buren, AR, and Lora (Paul) Ballinger of Hastings, MI; eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Dale was preceded in death by his wife, Doris, their infant daughter, Judy, and Dale’s brother, Douglas Gainder. The family will receive friends on Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Life Story Funeral Home, Portage; 5975 Lovers Lane (269-344-5600). The funeral will be held on Friday at 11:00 a.m. at the Lighthouse Community Church; 4321 South 11th Street. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Lighthouse Community Church or Houghton College, Houghton, NY.