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4575 Remembrance Rd
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Life Story / Obituary
Throughout his rich and rewarding journey, Robert Vande Kopple, Sr. lived a rich and rewarding life while holding his loved ones near. He was generous beyond measure. Bob was deeply devoted to his family, and he was so proud to witness his family tree blossom to include the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who filled his heart with joy. A man of faith, his life exemplified what it means to be the hands and feet of the Lord he loved. Life will never be the same without Bob here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy.
It seems only fitting that Bob’s story began during a time that was as vibrant as he was. It was the 1920s when jazz music, ballroom dancing, and motion pictures in both color and sound were all part of the cultural fabric of the Roaring Twenties. Amidst this exciting era was a time of celebration in the lives of Mr. and Mrs. John Vande Kopple as they announced the birth of their baby boy, Robert Gerald on December 8, 1925. Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he was the second of four children to be raised in the family home on Powers Avenue on the Northwest side of the city. Sadly, Bob’s father died when he was just a young boy of eight. He attended the local elementary school and then went on to Davis Tech where he sang in the choir. A young man of many talents, Bob also was a tenor in a quartet. In addition, he played basketball, baseball, and football where he was also named team captain.
As a young man, Bob was ready for all that life had in store. He was drafted into the Army. Originally, Bob was a cook, but he was later responsible for the logistics of big guns once they learned that he was good at math. His excellent math skills made him a natural at calibrating. Much of Bob’s three years in the service were spent in Germany. While there, he collected German memorabilia that he eventually donated to museums in later years. Bob also kept the same $1 bill in his wallet throughout his entire military career and continues to have that very bill to this day. With his military duties fulfilled, he took a job at American Seating back home for a short time. Bob then began driving truck for Muller Bakery with the majority of his years selling life insurance.
New and exciting changes were in store for Bob when he met a woman named Eleanor Verhey. They fell in love and were married at Seventh Reformed Church. The newlyweds initially settled into a second story apartment next to Mieras Shoes on Leonard Street. It was there that they welcomed their daughter, Pat. A bit later, Eleanor was pregnant with their second child so the growing family moved to a home on McKee Avenue in Wyoming. A short time later, Diane was born, and their family of five was later completed with the birth of their son, Bob Jr. Eventually, Bob and his family returned to the northwest side of Grand Rapids, living on Lincoln Street for two years before moving to their home on Richmond Street. Their summers were spent at their place on Big Star Lake where he fished for bass. He loved taking out his pontoon out with his grand children, Hawaiian shirt and all! Family holidays were spent at Uncle John Kuieck’s where they enjoyed time as a family. They were members of Faith Reformed Church and Remembrance Church, where he was very active. At Remembrance Church, he established the library, served as both an elder and a deacon, and was the chairman of the mission committee for 20 years. In addition, he was a longtime member of the choir, as he loved the classic hymns, and the superintendent of Sunday school. He attended both Wednesday and Sunday services.
Throughout his life Bob was busy. And throughout his 50-year career with Lincoln National Life Insurance, Bob attended many conventions and loved being social. He was a member of the esteemed Lincoln National Million Dollar Roundtable Group. Bob loved hunting both deer and pheasant, and he looked forward to deer hunting in the Northern Upper Peninsula. As a lover of all four seasons, Bob enjoyed ice skating as well as skiing. Bob was an excellent cook who was known for his Boston brown bread, ham on Sundays, and both beef and pork roast. As his family and friends can attest, he had a voracious sweet tooth as he loved ice cream and fudge. Bob made sure that his freezer was always full.
Later in life, Bob continued to live fully in the days he was given. He and his wife moved to a condo in Hudsonville. Bob loved spending winters in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, from November through March. Every day was filled with plenty of golf as he was an avid golfer, but hanging out with his buddies and smoking cigars were also favorites. Bob enjoyed going out for a simple drive, usually stopping to watch the ships come in. As a golf lover, he enjoyed trying out new courses and traveling to new states.
All who knew Robert G. Vande Kopple, Sr. would agree that he was truly a character as he loved a good party and enjoyed being social. Bob was so generous as he loved giving things away. It was not uncommon for him to buy a bushel of apples for himself and then buy a second bushel to give away. He also had candy in his pockets. Bob savored every moment spent with family, and the family memories made at the lake will be among the many that his loved ones hold most dear. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
Vande Kopple – Mr. Robert G. Vande Kopple Sr. aged 91, of Grand Rapids, went to be with his Lord and Savior on September 24, 2017. He was preceded in death by his sister Barbara (Chuck) Berry; step-brother John Van Houten; and brother-in-law Harold Robeson. Bob is survived by his children; Pat (Fred) Alt and their children, Darlene (Brian) Hitsman, Kim (Jeremy) Fogg, Andrew (Stacie) Alt; Diane Decker and her children, Shawna (Alston) Turnbull, Joshua Decker, Marcus (Nicole) Decker; and Robert (Cris) Vande Kopple Jr.; and 16 great-grandchildren. Also surviving are his siblings, Joyce Robeson, Kenneth (Etta) Vande Kopple, step sister Eileen Stehouwer and many nieces and nephews. Bob proudly served in the U.S. Army during WWII. The Funeral Service will be held at 11 AM on Friday, September 29, 2017 at Remembrance Church, 4575 Remembrance Rd NW with Rev. Vern Van Der Werff officiating. The family will receive family and friends from 4-8 PM on Thursday at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW and for one hour prior to the service at church. Contributions in his memory may be made to Mel Trotter Ministries or Remembrance Church. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read Bob’s lifestory, archive a memory or photo or sign the guestbook online.