John Katje

August 23, 1934 - January 21, 2017
Martin, MI



Monday, January 23, 2017
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
East Martin Christian Reformed Church
1782 5th Street
Martin, MI 49070


Tuesday, January 24, 2017
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM EST
East Martin Christian Reformed Church
1782 5th Street
Martin, MI 49070


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.

Self Help Enterprises Workshop
2300 W. LeFevre Road
Sterling, IL 61081

This is to help Jeanine's sister, Jane.


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

River Rose
(269) 692-3951

Plainwell Flowers
117 S. Main
Plainwell, MI 49080
(269) 685-8055
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


When reflecting on the life of John Katje, it is easy to see that his faith was a vital part of everything he did. He was a lifelong resident of the community he loved, and as someone who was genuine and approachable he was known by so many. A loving family man, John was so proud to be a husband and father, but his grandchildren were the light of his life. Hardworking and dedicated to whatever task was at hand, he also used his time and talents to bless those around him in ways both great and small. Life will never be the same without John here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.

The 1930s were primarily defined by the dark days of the Great Depression. With jobs that were difficult to find, the unemployment rate soared, bringing hardship to countless American families. Despite the trials around them, Garry and Bessie (VanderPloeg) Katje were able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their lives as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named John on August 23, 1934, in Allegan, Michigan. His parents had both come to America from the Netherlands as children, and John was the third of 11 Katje children. John’s parents had a farm in East Martin, and he started working in the potato and onion fields when he was only nine years old. As one of the oldest children in his family, there was always plenty to do and plenty of responsibilities, too. John’s days always started early as he helped around the farm before heading off to school and then came home from school to greet his chores and responsibilities once again. During his earliest years John attended East Martin Christian Reformed School, and as a high school student he attended Martin High School. After graduating from high school in 1953, John served in the United States Army for two years. He then spent a couple more years serving in the National Guard.

Not to be forgotten during John’s years in the military was his introduction to the young woman of his dreams. She was a young nurse in training named Jeanine Sikkema, and John’s younger brother was engaged to Jeanine’s girlfriend, Lila. John had just returned home from the military when they met. He had heard rumors from his brother about the good looking nurses, so he and his friend, Jim Leep, decided to come up to see if those rumors were true. It was then that he met Jeanine, and although she wasn’t all that impressed at first, John’s persistence won in the end as he eventually won her heart. Their relationship really took off in September of 1958, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together John and Jeanine were married on September 10, 1960, in Fulton, Illinois. Together they welcomed three boys including Russ, Rodney, and Robb into their hearts and home.

Aside from his faith, there was never anything that was of greater significance in John’s life than his family. He and Jeanine were true companions who did everything together. As a father John taught his children so many invaluable lessons such as how to work hard and the importance of forgiveness. He also exemplified what it looks like to be a man of faith as well. John was a man of few words, but when he spoke his words were always logical and deeply rooted in timeless wisdom. Later on, he was filled with unspeakable joy to witness his family grow to include grandchildren, and he treasured every moment he had to spend with his family. John’s grandchildren were the highlight of his life.

Throughout his life John was always busy. He made a career at General Motors, working as an inspector for over 35 years. John was a longtime member of East Martin Christian Reformed Church where he once served as a deacon. He was also a member of their school board. John spent much of his life serving in his community here and there, and in whatever he was doing he never wanted or needed any recognition but preferred to stay out of the limelight.

All who knew John Katje would agree that he was one of the kindest and most genuine people around. He never had an unkind word to say about anyone, and he was primarily a quiet man with such a gentle spirit. Blessed to share more than 57 years with the love of his life, John was so proud of the family he called his own. With faith as a cornerstone in his life, he found such peace and strength in his favorite Bible verse, Psalm 23. Deeply loved, John will never be forgotten.

John Katje, of Martin, went to be with the Lord suddenly on January 21, 2017. John’s family includes his wife, Jeanine; three sons, Russ (Suzanne); Rodney ( Cindy); Robb (Sandra); seven grandchildren, Jon, Chris (Lora), Alyson, Jordan, Carmen, Briannah, and Nicole; two great grandchildren, Harrison and Emmett; several step grandchildren; siblings, his cherished sister Ann, Jim (Lila), Bob (Ruth), Emily, Dorothy, Joyce (Steve), and Joan (Les); sister-in-law, Marilyn Katje. John was preceded in death his parents; brothers, Fred and Chester; and sister, Betty. The family will receive friends on Monday from 4 - 7 p.m. at the East Martin Christian Reformed Church. A funeral service will be held on Tuesday at 11a.m. at the church. Burial at East Martin Cemetery. Please visit John’s webpage at www.lifestorynet.com where you can sign the guestbook and share a memory and/or photo. Those who wish may make contributions to Self Help Enterprises Workshop for Jeanine’s sister, Jane. A project for those with special needs.