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Life Story / Obituary
With a ready smile and a song in his heart, Jack Vander Sloot lived a life rich in faith, family, and friends. A man who was grateful for all his blessings, Jack had a great sense of humor and a terrific personality. He made friends wherever he went and always had a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Thoughtful and romantic, Jack never shied from showing his affection for those he loved. Jack loved Nature and sharing its wonders with others. Whether playing music, singing, growing plants and flowers, taking photos, traveling the midwest, or sharing a meal with loved ones, Jack relished every moment. Jack embodied the principles of his faith and, in doing so, proved a powerful role model for all who were blessed to know him. Beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend, Jack will long be remembered and so very missed.
1943 marked a time when the war effort in Europe directly impacted all American lives. While countless young people actively served in the trenches of WWII, those who remained stateside poured their energies into supporting the war effort in any way they could. While Ford and GM converted their plants from automobile manufacturing to building bombs and aircraft engines, an unprecedented 18 million women proudly worked the manufacturing jobs once held by the men who were now overseas. Providing a sense of respite from the daily struggles, Frank Sinatra and Glenn Miller filled the airways, Lassie Come Home dominated the television, and the musical Oklahoma took the stage on Broadway. It was a particularly exciting time for Cornelius Paul and Jenny Cooper (Wielhouwer) Vander Sloot as they welcomed their son Jack on December 11 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Growing up on Leonard Street, Jack's childhood was filled with love and activity. His father worked as a tool and die maker and drafter for General Motors Company, and his mother was a homemaker. Jack shared close relationships with his siblings, Paul, Jane, and Dave that lasted their entire lives. The family enjoyed lots of picnics and made a tradition of going to breakfast on Memorial Day and Crockery Park on Labor Day. Vacations typically included traveling throughout Michigan and renting a cottage during the summer in St. Ignace.
When Jack was only five years old, he had rheumatic fever, which left him couchbound for almost a year and resulted in needing to repeat kindergarten. Over the year, his Aunt Connie brought him violets and various flowers to cheer him up. Her beautiful gifts started his lifelong love for all types of flowers and plants. He also enjoyed playing board games and collecting coins.
Though Jack attended Walker Christian School through 8th grade and graduated in 1962 from Unity Christian High, he was not a fan of school. He much preferred being outside fishing or with the plants and birds and even got up at 5 a.m. to take a walk and listen to the birds sing before he went to school. Once, when he was a child, he played hooky from school. Before he headed to the woods, he ate an orange. When his mom found the orange peel on the counter, she thought there was an intruder in the house and searched the house with a neighbor and carrying a knife.
When his brother Paul married his wife, Laurina, she introduced Jack to her close friend, Jan, by inviting her to attend their church choir. When Paul and Laurina picked Jan up, Jack was in the car's back seat. They have been singing and playing music together ever since.
Jack and Jan's favorite dating activity during their courtship was playing miniature golf. Neither one was very good, and they ended up laughing the entire time. Jack drove an orange International truck and loved to put his arm around Jan on dates. However, it had a manual transmission, so Jan operated the shifter so he could hold her. Red lights were for kissing! After dating for six months, Jack asked Jan, "Do you love me enough to marry me?" Jan excitedly responded, "Yes!"
The happy couple married on June 23, 1966, at Free Reformed Church on Ball Ave NE in Grand Rapids. After celebrating with family and friends, they spent a week traveling through Michigan and up to the Upper Peninsula to visit several of the Great Lakes on their honeymoon. They spent the first night at the Southside Motel in Grand Haven, and some of their favorite sights during their trip were bear and deer parks. They enjoyed watching several sunsets, and Jack serenaded Jan by playing his harmonica in the tent. Late one evening, Jack stepped on a thorn and injured his toe when going for a moonlit swim. After seeing a doctor the next day, Jan drove them home a day early. However, they didn't tell anyone and spent the rest of their honeymoon at home.
Jack and Jan made their home on 10 acres in Allendale, Michigan. In time, they were blessed to welcome three children to their family. June, Julianne, and Jack Adrian quickly became the centers of their worlds and Jack's great joy. He was a very loving, supportive, and proud dad. He loved camping with the family, especially at their favorite place, Woods and Waters Campground in Newaygo, Michigan. Many vacations were taken at the Two Hearted River Campground in the UP on Lake Superior. Jack and Jan loved to spend the day walking the shores looking for unique rocks. Jack collected many boxes of rocks over the years. The family also stayed at Jan's parents' trailer on the Muskegon River, enjoying floating down the river, fishing, campfires, card games, and taking nature walks. Yearly visits with his sister and relatives in Canada were always a pleasure.
When Jack and Jan first met, he owned a glass greenhouse on his parents' property and sold the flowers he grew wholesale. He was also working for Barnaby's Nursery. After they married, his passion for flowers and plants led to more greenhouses on their property and, later, the Wishing Well Village Craft Shop, which Jan ran. Jack was involved in flowers and landscaping on and off throughout his life. He worked with Molesta Floral and Mast Greenhouses and ran his own businesses, VanderSloot's Garden and Greenhouses and Jack's Lawn Service. His green thumb was a talent, and he was so proud of his many floral pots, hanging baskets, and landscaped flowers at every home he lived. He always brought home more, even when there was no space left. He enjoyed their colors and watching them grow.
Jack also worked as a Realtor for 14 years, working for Gallery of Homes and Princeton Estates. Later in life, he worked for ten years with his son Jack, who owned JT Duct Cleaning. For many years, Jack and Jan were vendors at numerous tractor shows throughout Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. For over ten years before the digital age, he took hundreds of pictures of tractors, lighthouses, barns, trains, and more that they would quickly sell at the shows. They also sold pictures of various memorabilia items. Guests would also seek Jack out at the shows to take their photos and find the pictures he took the previous years of their tractors. A great salesman with an outgoing and friendly demeanor, Jack loved interacting with people in all his work.
Gifted with a beautiful tenor voice, Jack sang in multiple choirs and performed many duets. He loved to sing with his wife, and they performed duets in various churches, nursing homes, and tractor shows. They started many tractor shows by singing the national anthem together. Jack was also an incredible piano player who loved playing hymns and patriotic music. He often played for family gatherings, church services, and nursing homes. He loved playing on Open Mic Night at the Coopersville Farm Museum and for anyone who would listen. Witnessing his pure joy when he played Amazing Grace and Blest Be the Tie and crossing his hands are cherished memories his family and friends will forever hold dear.
Always willing to give his time and talents in service to his community, Jack was involved in many endeavors during his lifetime. He was in the choir at every church he was a member of, and he traded his organ for a piano so he could accompany Jan when she was leading Junior and Senior choirs. He loved organizing special music events at Walker United Reformed, pouring through music books and sheet music to find the correct sound. In addition to sharing his musical talents, Jack was involved in organizing community parades in Allendale and Cascade, primarily the 4th of July Parade. He often included the family on a float with their covered wagon. He also organized an event on their property in Allendale celebrating Wishing Well Village with a singing program, Saint Bernard wagon rides, and pictures with the Queen of Allendale on their covered wagon. For five years, he was a member of the Thornapple Jaycees, even becoming the president with the slogan "Toot, toot for Vander Sloot." His time with the Jaycees included participating in the 4th of July festivities and doings at the Cascade Township park.
In the comforts of home, Jack always cooked bacon and eggs for Sunday breakfast. He loved to cook and bake; his specialties included meatballs, sweet & sour cucumbers, spaghetti, chili, and baking treats for Jan's teacher friends. Jack loved to host Thanksgiving and cook the turkey. He loved decorating the house for Christmas with lots of lights, angel hair, and decorations. He was always excited to bring several dishes for potlucks. Russ' Restaurant was Jack's favorite, and he also enjoyed Applebee's steak and fish dinners from Long John Silvers.
Without a doubt, Jack's greatest joy was his family. He was proud of all his children and grandchildren and tried to attend all of their special events. He loved family get-togethers and playing games, almost always winning when playing Rummy. He especially loved holding and spending time with his grandchildren. Though allergic to most animals, he loved pets and was a great dog sitter for his "granddogs." It was no surprise to those who knew him best that Jack was well-liked by all the nurses, doctors, and caregivers who attended him in his final years.
Though life feels far less certain in the absence of Jack's steadfast love and companionship, may we find much comfort in our many treasured memories. May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying Jack's wonderful legacy forward. Whenever we lift our voices in song, tune into Nature's beauty, picnic on the channel in Grand Haven, pick a bouquet of fresh flowers, fill our bird feeders, rock hunt, and hold our beloved close, we celebrate the many ways Jack gifted our lives. In this way, we keep his bright and beautiful spirit alive and inspiring others as he inspired us.
Jacob H. Vander Sloot, “Jack”, age 79 of Grand Rapids, passed away October 9, 2023. He was born in Grand Rapids, MI in December of 1943 to the late Cornelius and Jenny Vander Sloot. Along with his parents, Jack was preceded in death by his son, Jack and his sister-in -law Laurina Vander Sloot. He is survived by his wife, Jan and their children, June & Brian Timmer, Julianne & Dakota Jones; grandchildren Mary (Kreg) Westergren, Nicholas (Emily) Timmer, Jeremy Timmer and Colton Jones and great-granddaughter Juniper. Also surviving are his brothers Paul Vander Sloot, Dave (Marlene) Vander Sloot and sister Jane (John) Kooman. Friends are invited to visit with his family from 6-8 PM on Thursday, October 12, 2023 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel. His funeral service will be held 11:00 AM on Friday, October 13, 2023 at Walker United Reformed Church, (1941 Randall Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49534). Interment will take place at Washington Park Memorial Gardens. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Spectrum Hospice, (750 Fuller Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503) are appreciated. To read more about Jack, to share a memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com