Saturday, October 29, 2022
11:00 AM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Van Strien Creston Chapel
1833 Plainfield Ave., N.E
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
Visiting from 10-11
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.
St Jude Children Research Hospital
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
A family man through and through, Ivan Mellema leaves his loved ones with a rich legacy of being a strong role model and an exceptionally committed person to those he loved. Known for his strong work ethic and always putting others first, Ivan would do anything to help others in need. There is no doubt that he will be deeply missed by his many special friends and family for generations to come.
In the year 1943, the Pentagon, which is considered to be the world’s largest office building was completed while at the same time America was rationing canned meats, butter, and cheese, during challenging times. In the midst of WWII, Claude and Lillian (Tubbs) Mellema welcomed home their newborn son, Ivan Lavern, on September 28th, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Joining his older brother, Bruce, and later followed by his younger sister, Jane, his birth brought much hope and happiness to the family home.
Growing up on Hoag Avenue NE, Ivan lived a typical childhood of the times. As a child, he loved to swim in the lake across the street and find his fair share of mischief. He attended Orchard View Elementary School and later transferred to Forest Hills High School. School and Ivan didn’t mix. He often shared stories of these years as a student in wood shop class. When Ivan went to school and wanted to work, everyone worked. If he didn’t feel like working, he was disruptive and nobody worked! Family vacations were usually up north staying at a cabin and fishing. A highlight was a family trip to Niagara Falls as well as Washington DC.
As a teen, Ivan enjoyed hanging out at Morton Motor Sales in Rockford. His older brother, Bruce, worked there as a mechanic. The owners finally told Ivan if he was just going to be hanging around there he might as well get to work washing the cars and trucks on the lot. Following in his brother’s footsteps, he later left school and became a mechanic. The dealership was later sold to Baker Motors and eventually became Northland Pontiac. Ivan worked his way up to shop manager and later service writer. After a remarkable forty-six years there, he retired when the dealership closed.
Ivan married his high school sweetheart, Linda Chastain, on January 11, 1964, at Northlawn United Methodist Church, where they remained members their entire married years. They purchased their forever home on Leffingwell Avenue NE and welcomed home their daughter, Sherri. As a dad, he was strict yet loving. They enjoyed entertaining friends around their backyard pool and always made others feel welcome. He wanted nothing more than to provide for his family. In addition to his long hours as a mechanic, he pumped gas at night to supplement the family income. As a family, they enjoyed an occasional trip to the Upper Peninsula as well as boating with friends at the Hardy Dam. When not at work, Ivan was content at home. Ivan enjoyed mowing the lawn twice a week on his John Deer tractor. He and Linda often ate at home. She did all the cooking and had perfected his favorite foods; hotdogs and hamburgers. All in all, he was grateful for the many blessings he found in being a husband and father.
Ivan held a wide variety of many special interests. When it came to music, he enjoyed easy listening or music on the popular radio station B93. He also cherished the time he and his grandson, Cory, spent playing the acoustic guitar together. In addition to their guitar riffs, they also enjoyed woodworking together in the basement. He created many projects from wood including marble games, birdhouses, windmills, and lawn ornaments. The Swinging Door in Comstock Park was the perfect setting for shooting pool with his close friends. His great-grandsons, Hunter and Jameson, nicknamed him Papa Pool! An avid NASCAR fan, Ivan cheered on Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson during the height of their careers. Everyone knew not to interrupt Ivan when the race was on! A lover of travel, Ivan enjoyed taking a cruise with his family. His nephew’s band were the musicians on the ship so they were able to have seats at the #1 table! Although he found comfort and satisfaction in ordinary habits, Ivan was always willing to try new things.
Sadly, Linda passed away in 2010 leaving Ivan to tend to himself. With the help of his loving daughter, Sherri, he managed to learn to cook and clean. She even taught him how to bake a pie without burning it in the oven! On most warm summer days she would bring her grandkids over to swim and hang out with Ivan. She grew close to him over the years calling him every afternoon to check-in. Described as present, approachable, and kind, Ivan will surely be missed. His wisdom along with his dry sense of humor will always be treasured. A wonderful man to know and to love, Ivan always wanted the best for his family. May the warm memories of their years together remain in their hearts forevermore.
Mr. Ivan L. Mellema, age 79, of Grand Rapids, passed away on October 26, 2022. He was preceded in death by his wife, Linda; parents, Claude E. and Lillian Mellema; and brother, Bruce Mellema. Ivan is survived by his daughter, Sherri (Darryl) Lee; grandson, Cory (Angel) Lee; grandsons, Hunter and Jameson; sister, Jane (John Coulter) Mellema; sister-in-law, Deb Mellema; and many nieces and nephews. Ivan was a longtime employee at Northland Pontiac until his retirement. He also enjoyed woodworking and watching NASCAR. The funeral service will be held at 11 AM on Saturday, October 29, 2022, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE. Visitation will be held at the funeral home from 5-7 PM on Friday and for one hour prior to the service. Contributions in his memory may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Interment in Fairplains Cemetery. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to submit a favorite photo, or memory or to sign the guestbook.