Tuesday, March 21, 2017
10:00 AM to 12:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Rupert, Durham, Marshall & Gren
120 South Woodhams Street
Plainwell, MI 49080
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.
Praise Baptist Church
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
In everything he did, Jack Ridderman’s love for life was easy to see. He was kindhearted and compassionate with just the right amount of spunk mixed in. Jack and his wife exemplified what marriage is truly intended to be as they were true companions throughout their entire married life. He cherished his family, and he just might have argued that nothing was better than becoming a grandfather. Jack was a man of honor who worked hard in everything he did. Life will never be the same without him here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
Life during the 1930s was anything but easy as the entire decade was covered with the black cloud of the Great Depression. Jobs were hard to come by and the unemployment rate soared, which left countless American families struggling to survive. Despite the trials around them, John and Anna (Meijer) Ridderman were able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their own lives as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Jack Junior. on March 29, 1932, in Muskegon, Michigan. He was the third of four Ridderman children as he was raised alongside his siblings, Arlene, Ralph, and Leouis who passed shortly after birth. To support his family, Jack’s father worked as a manager for Continental Motors while his mother worked at JC Penney and later focused her time and attention as a homemaker.
In many ways Jack was a young boy of his generation. He was a prankster throughout his life. In fact, as a child Jack was known to tie his brother to a tree! While growing up he worked at the corner market, and in his free time he enjoyed going to the Ridderman farm in Fremont and playing Euchre. Jack attended local schools including Muskegon High School, but he did not graduate as he left during his senior year to join the United States Air Force.
While in the military, Jack was a cryptographer during the Korean Conflict. Although he always wanted to fly and see the ocean, he was stationed stateside in Omaha, Nebraska. Jack served in the Air Force for four years.
New and exciting changes were in store for Jack when he met the young woman of his dreams. Her name was Gena, and they met in the bargain basement at Penney’s where his mother worked. Jack always loved joking that Gena was quite the bargain! It was love at first sight for both Jack and Gena, and it wasn’t long before they knew they were meant to spend the rest of their lives together. Deeply in love, they were married on April 18, 1952. The newlyweds initially lived in Omaha, then later after leaving the service, with Gena’s parents in Muskegon Heights. Jack soon went to his sister Arlene’s in the Detroit area and took a position with Stroh’s. He then bought a house on Greenfield Road in Berkley, and since he stopped at the house every day as it was being built the workers assumed he was an inspector. When they moved in, Gena’s dad asked what the cost was. When Jack answered, “$12,000,” her father asked, “Well, how do you hope to pay for that?!”
Jack and Gena welcomed five children including Bob, Valley, Steve, Laurel, and Naomi into their hearts and home. Just prior to the Detroit riots in 1967, the Riddermans moved to a 660 acre farm that had belonged to Gena’s aunt in Clare, Michigan. There, Jack served as a volunteer policeman. Their place was always a bustle of activity. There was the time that Valley had a party in the hayloft of the barn when and bats got in the house. The bats were circling the bedroom Gena and Jack were in and crawled out the window with a gas station across the road! Pets were always an important part of family life, especially Jack’s favorite, Bear #1, a standard poodle. Those two went everywhere together. Always the jokester, he also insisted that he was the one who invented the pet rock. When his parking brake went out on one occasion he put a rock under the tire. When someone asked about it, Jack said, “Why that’s my pet rock!”
In Clare, Jack met a Standard Oil dealer, Doug, and was certified to repair oil furnaces 1970. Since Doug told Jack there were openings with Standard, he went for it and moved to Plainwell in 1971. He took over the Amoco station in 1971 and later opened Ridderman & Sons Oil Co. Jack was owner/operator in Plainwell, and also built the D Avenue Fuel Plaza in 1991. In 1996, Jack built another on Sprinkle Road.
Later in life, Jack was thrilled to watch his family grow. He was blessed with 12 grandchildren altogether, Aimee Jo, Jason, Justin John, Andrew Lee, Kellay, Jon, Paul Michael, Sarah Nicole, David Aaron, Joshua Alan, Rebecca, who passed at birth, and then Rebekah and Moriah. Jack was very close to his grandson, Justin, who was the first Ridderman grandson. Together they loved to go fishing. Justin even took Jack to “show and tell” when he was young! Whenever he could, Jack loved having the grandchildren over. Jack and Gena taught their children and grandchildren of the real meaning of love. He always asked where his Gena was. Even as he suffered with dementia, he could still recognize his family. Jack was quick to thank Bob for helping care for him and always lit up when seeing Bob. Jack and Gena often sang to one another, “I love my Jack,” and, “I love my Gena.”
Throughout his life, Jack was a bustle of activity and a man of many interests. In 1992, they bought a place in Florida, and they did some traveling as Amoco required travel at times. Hawaii, Texas, and Las Vegas were among the places he traveled with Gena. He also loved going to a cabin every year in Canada to fish with his friend, Doc Otteson. An avid fisherman, Jack also enjoyed golfing and loved woodworking. He took some woodworking classes with his buddy, Jerry Jenkins, and Jack was quite gifted in it, even until his last days. He liked going to the airport to watch the planes and was close to getting his own pilot’s license. Jack was instrumental in bringing the jet to the front of the Plainwell Airport. He was also a coffee lover and known for bringing a Pez dispenser to church to hand out candy to the kids.
All who knew Jack Ridderman would agree that he was truly extraordinary. He was a man of integrity who was well respected in his community. Warm and outgoing, Jack was a friend to many, and his devotion to his family was unmatched. Deeply loved, he will never be forgotten.
Jack J. Ridderman, of Plainwell, passed away on March 16, 2017, in the comfort of his home. Jack’s family includes his wife, Gena; his children: Bob (Jeanne), Valley (Weston) Hofacker, Steve (Mary) in Gobles, Laurel (Gregg) Stoughton, and Naomi (Mike) Hovanetz; 12 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. Jack was preceded in death by his parents; sister and brothers: Arlene, Leouis, and Ralph; and granddaughter, Rebecca. Visit with his family and friends and view his life story film on Tuesday, March 21 from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Plainwell; 120 Woodhams St. (685-5881). A funeral service will follow at Noon at the same location. Please visit Jack’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a memory or photo and sign his memory book online. Memorial donations may be made to Grace Hospice, Praise Baptist Church, or Camp Kaskitowa.