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Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Robert Dykema, it is easy to see that he was a man of honor, integrity, and compassion for others. He lived a life of faith, and no matter what came his way he counted it all as gain. Bob was blessed to share most of his life with his true love, and together they witnessed their family tree blossom to include numerous branches of loved ones who brought them so much joy. Although he accomplished much of which to be proud, he was a humble man who lived to treasure and serve others. Deeply loved, Bob will be forever missed.
It was great to be an American during the Roaring Twenties. Jazz music was hot and dances like the Jitterbug kept people moving and shaking while motion pictures became available in both color and sound. It was a time of rest between the end of WWI and what became the prolonged hardship of the Great Depression. It was as summer was coming to an end in East Grand Rapids, Michigan, that Howard and Myrtle Rose Dykema were awaiting the birth of their new baby in 1922. Their wait was finally over on September 8th when the baby boy they named Robert Elmer made his grand entrance. He was the older of two boys as he was raised in the family home on Valley Avenue alongside his brother, Howard, with whom Bob was very close. His father was a credit manager for Standard Oil Company while his mother was a school teacher and homemaker. As a family they attended Wallin Congregational Church and later, Valley Avenue Methodist Church. Bob was a student at Sibley Elementary and then went on to Union High School where he ran track. He earned his letter and also played intramural basketball.
After graduating from high school in 1940, Bob was eager for all that life had in store. He attended Grand Rapids Junior College where he also played basketball. As our nation became involved in WWII in 1941, Bob answered the call to serve. He joined the Coast Guard in 1942, serving in Eastern Pacific with the landing craft infantry and was awarded a Bronze Star for occupation in Okinawa. After three and a half years, Bob was discharged as a radar man, first class. He then returned to Grand Rapids Junior College for another year, earning a degree in business administration.
New and exciting changes were in store for Bob when he met the young woman of his dreams. Her name was Ruth Shy, and she worked for American Box Board Company at the time. They began dating and it didn’t take them long to fall in love. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Bob and Ruth were married on October 22, 1948, at Valley Avenue Methodist Church. After a honeymoon in New York City and Niagara Falls, the newlyweds returned to Grand Rapids and settled into an apartment on Leonard Street, NW. Bob took a job working in wholesale drugs at Hazeltine and Perkins Drug Company. He spent 35 years working there, calling on hospitals and pharmacies. Bob covered the Northern territory, which extended to the North to Howard City, then to Grand Rapids, and also South to Holland and Fennville. Together he and Ruth welcome two children including Robert in 1951 and Ruth in 1953 into their hearts and home. They moved around a bit as they lived on Leonard Street, then on Dean Street, Richards Street, and then finally at 567 Collindale, Northwest. As a family they were members of Richmond Reformed Church for more than 30 years. Bob was an active member there as he helped at church dinners and outings, and he also regularly visited older members and veterans.
Always one to keep busy, Bob was a man with many interests. He and Ruth enjoyed golfing on leagues together, and he was on bowling leagues at both Grandville Lanes and Fairlanes. Bob also played on a couple of different softball leagues for a time. Bob was an avid sports fan as he loved hockey and cheering on his favorite teams including the Detroit Tigers, U of M football, and the Chicago Cubs. At home he could often be found out in his yard. Bob and Ruth loved traveling, and over the years they took a trip to Hawaii and Paris, they also took the kids to California, Florida, and Drummond Island as well as camping in Traverse City. During their retirement years they wintered in Singer Island, Florida. Later in life they took their grandchildren to Cedar Point every year. After retiring, Bob worked as a courier for Bank of Holland and also at his son’s golf course, Dykema Golf Co. for 17 years. He enjoyed eating out at Outback, Olive Garden, Mr. Burger, and Brann’s, and among his favorite foods were Italian spaghetti, mashed potatoes and gravy, chicken salad, meatloaf, chop suey, and anything Ruth made. Bob had quite the sweet tooth as well as he loved apple pie, anything mint like peppermint patties, and chocolate chip cookies. His favorite thing to read was his Bible, and he also liked listening to Christian hymns as well as big band music. Bob collected a few things including both coins and logoed golfballs, and he cherished his antique Tiffany lamp.
In 2012, Bob was deeply saddened with the death of his beloved Ruth. Although he missed her deeply, he continued to find such joy in being with his family.
All who knew Robert Dykema would agree that he was such a blessing. He was gentle, supporting, and nurturing with a positive outlook that could brighten even the darkest of days. Bob was one of the most hardworking people around, but he loved nothing more than using his time and talents to serve those around him. He was a man of unwavering faith who lived the beliefs he held near and dear to his heart. Life will never be the same without Bob here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
DYKEMA – Mr. Robert E. Dykema aged 96, of Grand Rapids, passed away on October 5, 2018. He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth; and brother, Howard Dykema. Bob is survived by his children, Robert (Cynthia) Dykema Jr. and Ruth Ann (David) Bigelow; grandchildren, Shawn Dykema, Robert Louis (Becky) Dykema III, Matthew (Kate) Dykema, Michael Dykema, Matthew Proch, Jamie (Ben) Lampe, Kimberly (Kevin) Earley, and Lindsay (Steve) Patlewicz; grandchildren, Avery and Ellorie Lampe, Isabella, Shane, Bronson, Jaycob and Avaleigh Dykema; and brother-in-law, Ed Shy. Robert served during WWII in the U.S. Coast Guard and was a member of the American Legion and Kent County Pharmacy Association. A heartfelt thank you to Great Lakes Caring and Great Lakes Hospice for the loving care shown to Bob. The Funeral Service will be held at 11 AM on Monday, October 8, 2018 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW with Rev. Christopher Westerbeek. Friends and Family will gather from 6-8 PM on Sunday, October 7, 2018 and from 10 AM until the time of the service at the funeral home. Contributions in his memory may be made to Matthews House or Mel Trotter Ministries. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read Bob’s lifestory, submit a memory, photo, or to sign the guestbook online.