Tuesday, September 26, 2023
10:00 AM EDT
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
11:00 AM EDT
4575 Remembrance Road NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
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 NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Van Andel Institute (for Parkinson's Disease Research)
333 Bostwick Ave. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
please add to address:
in memo line: in memory of Jerry Keas (Parkinson's research)
Life Story / Obituary
A devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Jerry Keas was a good guy. Likable, hard-working, and good-humored, Jerry welcomed each day as a gift and every person as a friend. Firmly rooted in his unwavering faith, Jerry was gracious and kind, even in the face of life's challenges. An inspiration to all who were blessed to know him, Jerry will long be remembered and so dearly missed.
Earl and Marian (Cooper) Keas welcomed their son Jerry to their family on March 10, 1943, in Sparta, Michigan. The middle of three children, Jerry enjoyed the good company of his older sister, Joyce, and younger sister, Lenora, as they grew up on a farm near Conklin. Jerry enjoyed farm life, helping his father do chores, caring for the work horses, Mike and Molly, and fishing in the nearby creek. The family attended Conklin Reformed Church and later Casnovia Reformed. His family and the churches established the roots of his lifelong faith.
Jerry had a good childhood, even though he always had cold baths because his sisters got the warm water. He attended school in nearby Ravenna. He loved all sports and played basketball in school. He also started bowling in those years as well.
After graduating high school, Jerry worked as a Christmas tree trimmer for a summer before starting school at Central Michigan. After a year of college, he decided it wasn't for him and enlisted in the Air Force. Before leaving for the service, he had taken more of an interest in a young lady he had met at Casnovia Reformed Church, Jean Van Asselt. He and Jean enjoyed getting to know one another over conversation and had gone on a few dates. They would stay in touch as he went through his training and eventually made his way to Germany.
Jerry called Jean on an expensive international call to propose, but she wasn't sure about that and said they would see how it went. After much prayer by Jean and a few more dates when Jerry came home on leave, they both agreed that it was time to marry. Within a month, they were married on July 2, 1965. After enjoying a brief honeymoon in northern Michigan, Jerry returned to the Air Force. Jean joined him in Germany, and over the next year, they were able to do some traveling in Europe including skiing in the Alps. He was proud of his service and enjoyed his time in the Air Force, but it was soon time to come home.
The couple returned to Sparta and quickly welcomed their first child. They would soon move to their longtime home in Walker, where they would raise their three boys, Ron, Brian, and Joel. Jerry found permanent work at United Wholesale Grocery, working in the warehouse. He particularly enjoyed the companionship of his coworkers and customers, which allowed him a fulfilling 30-year career. Occasionally, Jerry would take the boys to the warehouse or on deliveries, and they have fond memories of the forklift and rubberband fights.
Outside of work, Jerry and Jean enjoyed time with family and friends. He loved playing basketball, tossing footballs, and playing catch in the driveway or yard with his boys and neighborhood friends. Though he worked various shifts through the years, Jerry usually arranged it so he could get out to watch his boys in their activities – he rarely missed one. Jerry and Jean bowled together for several years and Jerry spent many Saturday mornings with his sons at their bowling league. Jerry and Jean also enjoyed getting together with friends and family members to play cards or other games or socialize.
As the boys grew older, the family started camping, towing their trailer around the state. They enjoyed weekend getaways and more extended stays during summer vacations. Their favorite regular spots included Ludington and Hoffmaster State Parks and Henning Park in Newaygo.
Jerry always loved watching sports, especially the Detroit Lions and Tigers as well as the Pistons in their championship years. Jerry enjoyed taking care of his lawn, but when it came to fixing things, he relied on one of his closest friends, Ron Hayward. For more than 30 years, he and Jean enjoyed their summers at Pleasure Point RV Resort in Six Lakes. Spending many weekends there from May to September, they enjoyed countless good friendships and a great community. Although Jerry was reserved, he was always up for a conversation with a friend or acquaintance, a good joke, or stories and songs around the campfire. His quick smile and sense of humor were welcomed, and their corner lot became a regular gathering spot for many in his summertime community.
For many years, Jerry loved golfing with his family and friends. As grandkids came along, he and Jean welcomed opportunities to watch them during the day when they were young. A proud "Papa," Jerry made sure to attend all their events that he could. Jerry and Jean enjoyed a little travel as well, taking a memorable trip to Hawaii and trips to see family and friends in Arizona and Florida.
Sadly, in 2003, Jerry was first diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and the last ten years began to really limit his activities and mobility. Though frustrated, Jerry took it in stride as his beloved Jean cared for him with complete and utter devotion, lovingly filling in the gaps when he struggled. As she did throughout their happy marriage, Jean continued to bake her amazing desserts and pies, prepare numerous whipped cream-based “salads”, maintain a stash of assorted candy, and host family gatherings with her famous roast beef and mashed potatoes that Jerry and the entire family devoured. In the last few months, Jerry received additional care and attention at Edison Christian Health Center, where Jean continued to sit and care for him each day as a testament to her life-long, self-sacrificing love for Jerry.
Jerry lived life to the fullest, leading with his heart and trusting his faith. Whether playing golf, gathering with friends, encouraging his kids, or cheering on his grandchildren, Jerry relished every moment and always gave his best. In so doing, he proved a powerful role model for how to live a wholehearted life and blessed all who were lucky to share time with him. His legacy of faith, love, and companionship will surely be carried forward by those he so dearly loved.
Mr. Jerry Keas, 80, of Walker, went home to be with his Lord and Savior on September 20, 2023, after a 20-year battle with Parkinson's disease. The son of the late Earl and Marian (Cooper) Keas, he is survived by his devoted wife of 58 years, Jean (Van Asselt) Keas; his three sons and daughters-in-law and seven grandchildren, Ron and Theresa Keas (sons: Taylor and Parker), Brian and Angie Keas (stepdaughters: Hannah and Abby Riffell), and Joel and Amy Keas (daughters: Aubrey, Emerson, and Presley); his sisters, Joyce (Victor) Derenthal and Lenora (Vern) Lanning; brother-in-law and sisters-in-law Don (Ernestine) Van Asselt and Alberta VanAsselt; and many nieces and nephews.
His funeral service will be on Tuesday, September 26, 2023, at 11 AM at Remembrance Church, 4575 Remembrance Road NW. Visitation will be on Monday from 5-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW, and on Tuesday at church beginning at 10 AM. The family offers its sincere thanks to the staff of Edison Christian Life Services for their loving care of Jerry over the past 4 months. For memorials in honor of Jerry, please consider either the Edison Christian Foundation or the Van Andel Institute (specify Parkinson's Disease Research). To read more about Jerry, to share a memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com