Thursday, May 30, 2019
1:30 PM EDT
Riverside Christian Reformed Church
602 Comstock Blvd NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Gerald Bos, it is easy to see his strength and determination, but also his deep love and compassion for others. He was a true family man who shared most of this life with his true love, and together they experienced so many of the best things life has to offer. Jerry was known for his faith, and it was his faith that brought him both the joy and strength he needed to weather both the peaks and valleys along life’s journey. He was a great conversationalist, but he also didn’t shy away from speaking his mind. Deeply loved, Jerry will be forever missed.
Life during the 1930s was primarily defined by the Great Depression as the hardship of a soaring unemployment rate touched nearly all American families in some way. Despite the trials around them, Barney and Minnie (Eldrenkamp) Bos experienced great joy as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Gerald on April 10, 1933, in Chicago, Illinois. He was the second of five children as his siblings included Ettamae, Alyce, Jack, and Bart. Usually known as Son, he was raised on the South side of Chicago where he frequently saw extended family members who all lived nearby. His father worked for Pullman Car Company.
From the time he was a young boy, Jerry was a bustle of activity. It has even been said that he likely found his share of mischief. Even when he was young Jerry was known to have his own opinions. Jerry attended Roseland Christian Community School during his elementary school years, and they were members at 1st Christian Reformed Church. There, his faith was established through church, Sunday school and catechism classes. Part way through his eighth grade year, Jerry’s family moved to Michigan, settling near the small towns of Martin and Shelbyville where they had a farm. Jerry had chores on his family farm, and he also worked for other farms. He completed his schooling at Martin Rural Agricultural School.
It was while attending church and youth group at East Martin Christian Reformed Church that Jerry met his true love. Her name was Gwen VanderWeide, and they were smitten nearly right away. Jerry and Gwen began dating, and although she moved North of Grand Rapids they stayed in touch. In 1953 Jerry was drafted into the Army, and while on leave he married his sweetheart on December 12, 1953. Although he initially thought his new bride would join him, these plans changed when he found out that he would be stationed in Germany. Jerry was a mechanic while in the military, and while he enjoyed his time in the service, he realized that it wouldn’t be something he could make a career out of as there was little chance of advancement for those who were drafted.
With his military duties fulfilled, Jerry returned home. He and Gwen settled into an apartment, which is where the family grew to include the first two of six children. They then moved their growing family to their home on Bowne Street, NE, which would be the place Jerry called home for the rest of his life. This is where their children, Carl, Elaine, Barb, Donna, Sandy, and Dan were raised.
Throughout his life Jerry was known for his strong work ethic. He first found work at the United States Post Office, and after five years there he became part owner of a body shop in Wyoming for a couple of years. In 1963 Jerry joined American Seating Company in the foundry. He then became a millwright through an apprenticeship that was offered through the company. After completing the training in 1967, Jerry worked there repairing machines and eventually became a foreman until retiring in 1999, He very much enjoyed his work, could fix about anything, and enjoyed the people he worked with as he could strike up a conversation with any of them. Even when he ran into them years later he could talk to them for hours and regularly met with some of them. Since he wasn’t really ready to retire, Jerry took an opportunity in sales with West Michigan Industrial Sales. He did this for a couple of years, and his talkative nature made him a natural salesman.
Although he found great fulfillment in his work, Jerry’s family was first and foremost. Their home was always a busy place, and Jerry maintained control through the various rules that he had in place. He could even be strict with some of the rules as he taught his children to love the Lord, avoid swearing, to be polite to everyone, and obey the commandments. Sundays were always a day of rest with lots of games including Cribbage and years later, “Grandpa’s game.” When his kids were young Jerry mainly worked second shift so he was not around a lot. Jerry also regularly had side jobs including car repairs to help support the family. He wasn’t ever afraid to tackle any repair project whether it was a car or a home project. Jerry was forever tackling projects on his own or with family as he was very handy. Once he started on first shift, family dinners became an important part of the day, often lasting a long time. In August of 1965, the family took their first camping trip, borrowing a trailer from a friend, to stay in Interlochen. This Labor Day weekend trip became a regular event as they missed not one year ever since then. Camping became a regular thing as the family would camp over the Fourth of July. It started at his mother’s farm, then at Hungry Horse, and Memorial Day weekends were spent at Ionia.
In addition to these important family gatherings there were also camping trips throughout the United States. Jerry and Gwen figured out how to make these trips work with their budget, taking what they could to help save. Some of their trips were while their kids were living at home while other trips were with his mother or just on their own. Over the years there were trips out West, out East, and to the Upper Peninsula, but perhaps Jerry’s favorite ones were to the Smokey Mountains.
Their retirement years allowed Jerry and Gwen more time to do more of what they loved. For years they took their trailer to Florida each March for a month. True companions, Jerry and Gwen spent most of their retirement years together, helping care for one another. They loved going for drives, often as far as Traverse City for ice cream. Jerry and his wife loved being grandparents, and they were even able to watch some of their grandchildren when they were young. Much of the time spent with family was spent camping or at holiday events at the home of a family member or at the church basement. Jerry truly enjoyed conversing and interacting with them, and in more recent years he truly loved having conversations with the great-grandchildren.
Since 1958, Jerry and Gwen were members at Riverside Christian Reformed Church. Over the years he served there in a variety of ways including as a Sunday school teacher, deacon, and elder. Jerry loved just talking to people there. He held fast to his faith in the days following Gwen’s death in September of 2017 as there was a huge void in his life. Jerry felt blessed to remain in his home and continue doing many of the things with his family that brought him such joy.
All who knew Gerald Bos would agree that he was as kind as they come. There was no such thing as a short conversation with Jerry, and his faith shined through in everything he did. He treasured his family and created a timeless legacy for them to carry on in his footsteps.
Gerald Bos, age 86 of Grand Rapids went home to be with his Lord and Savior on May 25, 2019. He was preceded in death by his wife, Gwendolyn. Jerry is survived by his children: Carl and Carol Bos, Elaine and Tony Haan, Barb and Tom Rynbrandt, Donna and Bob Sevigny, Sandy Wilson, Dan Bos; 15 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren; siblings Alyce Huizenga, Bart and Dee Bos; sisters-in-law Marlene Bos, Joyce and Art Deemter; and several nieces and nephews. His funeral service will be held Thursday, May 30, 2019 at 1:30 PM at Riverside Christian Reformed Church, 602 Comstock Blvd. N.E. Relatives and friends are invited to visit with his family on Wednesday from 6 to 9 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Van Strien – Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield N.E. and again on Thursday at the church from 12:30 PM until the service. For those who wish, memorial contributions, in lieu of flowers, to Gideons International are appreciated. To read more about Jerry’s life, to share a memory or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com