Monday, February 4, 2019
11:00 AM EST
Westview Christian Reformed Church
2929 Leonard Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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.
Edison Christian Foundation
1000 Edison Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(Formerly Christian Rest Home Foundation)
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Driven, determined, and devoted, Robert Vermaire lived his life to the fullest. Content delivering mail as a carrier for more than thirty-four years, he enjoyed the many special connections he made with the people he met on his route. No one ever had to question his deep love for his family. He wanted nothing more than to share in their happiness and many successes over the years! His nurturing ways and warm memories will surely be treasured for generations to come.
With banks still closing as a result of the Great Depression, the promise of a new election year waiting, and during the midst of one of the greatest droughts in American history, Martin and Henrietta (Joling) Vermaire welcomed home their newborn son, Robert Leonard on July 3, 1932, in Grand Rapids. Michigan. Born the youngest of four children, his birth brought light into an era of hard times.
Growing up on the westside at 1449 Fremont Street, he lived a typical childhood of the times. He and his siblings shared a close bond and grew even closer after the loss of their sister, Jean, at a young age. As a family, they were raised with a strong Christian faith and attended the 12th Street Christian Reformed Church. His parents sacrificed in order to afford him and his siblings an education at West Side Christian School. Bob was a talented athlete during his school years and played both baseball and basketball during high school. Graduating with the Class of 1950 from Grand Rapids Christian, he worked a few jobs before deciding to enlist with the United States Coast Guard. After three successful years on a weather ship stationed off the coast of Boston, Massachusetts, he returned to his hometown by 1954.
Despite the significant loss of his mother shortly after he returned to Grand Rapids, Bob’s life continued on successfully over the years. He attended Davenport college for a short time before accepting a position with the United States Postal Service. Starting out in his early days, he had to catch a bus downtown to his route where he would pick up delivery bags along the way. For relaxation, he’d head to Michigan’s beautiful coastline and take in a sunset. Lucky for him while visiting Ottawa Beach with some friends, he met the love of his life, Marlene VerHage! The two of them shared many commonalities and wasted no time before he proposed! Eager to settle down and start a family of their own, they joined in marriage at the 4th Reformed Church on November 30, 1956. The happy couple settled into his family’s home to help run the house and look after his dad.
As their family grew to include three children over the next nine years, he and Marlene purchased their own home on Escott NW. As a father, he was easy going and never was one to discipline. Instead, he modeled a lifetime of serving the church. Over their years as members of the same church he grew up in, he served as an elder as well as a deacon and played on the church softball team. He was a man of few words around the house often sitting quietly reading the daily newspaper unless of course there was a game on television and then his shouts would be nearly heard by the neighbors! A great provider, he also had a painting business on the side that he shared with a fellow letter carrier. The extra money afforded him and his family many wonderful family vacations including eighteen trips to Hilton Head Island over Spring Break as well as a memorable road trip to California! More often they would take a family picnic on Saturdays to Muskegon's lakeshore after his route was over for the afternoon.
By 1990, Bob finally retired from the Post Office but that didn’t slow him down much. He continued his passion for travel with Marlene. He loved to read the maps whenever they traveled and look for stops that were off the beaten path. They also pursued another twenty-two-year career of delivering phone books together. With his knowledge of the streets in the area and a good sense of direction, they’d head out most days delivery to new listings of the phonebook. As their family grew to include grandchildren, they’d often take at least one of them with them on the route! Never one to turn down an opportunity for a burger, fries and a chocolate shake, they’d often stop for one on the way home! His children were often amazed by how a diet such as that could sustain him so well over the years!
There is no doubt that aside from travels, letter and phonebook routes, or painting jobs, his family was his everything! He adored his role as a grandfather and was known to whistle them to sleep when they were young. He always loved to climb down onto the floor to help them put a toy or puzzle together or to wrestle with them. When their lives became more active he did his best to keep up by attending their various activities. They loved to hear him cheering from the stands and sidelines over the years. They never doubted his love or unending support for them. Each and every Sunday, he and Marlene hosted the kids and their families for a traditional Sunday meal together. These were his most sacred times shared with them over the years. When he later moved to be cared for at the Christian Rest home, his lovely companion, Marlene faithfully visited him each and every day. Described as humorous, loving, and loyal, Bob leaves behind a generous collection of wonderful memories for his close-knit family to cherish forever.
Robert L. Vermaire, “Bob”, age 86, experienced the promise of eternal life on January 30, 2019. He was a devoted and loving husband to his wife, Marlene for sixty-two years. Bob is also survived by his children; Julie and Brian Sikkema, Rob and Judi Vermaire, Jan and Dan Petroelje; grandchildren; Eric, Jeff, Matt and Tim Sikkema, Elizabeth Vermaire, Kaylie Petroelje, Abby (Gabe) Hogg, Zach and Trevor Petroelje; sister, Phyllis DeSmit, and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his sisters, Marian Koetsier and Jean Vermaire. His grandchildren knew him as a devoted supporter as he joyfully attended every sport and activity they participated in, rain or shine. His funeral service will be held on Monday, February 4, 2019, at 11 AM at Westview Christian Reformed Church. Friends are invited to gather with his family on Sunday from 2-4 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Edison Christian Foundation (formerly Christian Rest Home Foundation) are appreciated. To share a favorite memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com