Life Story / Obituary
With a big, generous heart and intuitive way of brightening people’s day, John Alexander Handlin lived a life rich in family and friends. Always in motion and a source of entertainment, John preferred to be with friends and family and doing something physical. Whether playing ball, tinkering on a project, shopping, golfing, or helping others, John energized and brightened each and every moment. He led by example, proving a powerful role model for how to live a heart-centered life. A devoted father, grandfather, companion, and friend, John will long be remembered and so very missed.
1945 was a year marked by much celebration and hope. With the victorious end of World War II, families tuned into the celebratory tunes of Bing Crosby, Perry Como, and the Andrews Sisters. At the same time, children delighted in the debut of the slinky. Nowhere was there greater promise for the future than in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as Glenn and Constance (Sedor) Handlin welcomed their son John on November 11.
Growing up in the house his parents built built on Covell Ave NW, John and his older brother Mike attended Oakleigh Elementary and Union High schools. From his earliest days, John possessed a big, entertaining personality. A self-proclaimed class clown, he long professed that he “was outstanding in school,” literally out, standing in the hall after inciting raucous laughter in the classroom! He also loved sports and played football and baseball while in school.
After high school, John studied at Ferris University and Davenport college. Though he majored in fun, he earned a degree as well. In time, he landed a job in banking, eventually becoming the bank manager at an Old Kent Bank on Lake Michigan Drive. From there, he moved on to sales positions, working for State Conveyer Service and Clean Air Systems, which required significant travel, and for a food broker. He also would often pick up jobs to earn money for golf.
While in high school, John had met Linda Gray. They eventually married and over their 20-year marriage, they were blessed to have two children. Marie and Patrick were John’s heart’s delight. A kid at heart, John thoroughly enjoyed playing with his kids. They played a lot of sports, took day trips to the beach, and rode dirt bikes around their property in Marne, Michigan.
Never one to sit still, as an adult, John played basketball and softball with friends on Wednesday nights and tennis on Saturday. But, his real love was for golf. He caddied as a kid at the Highlands golf course and spent a lot of time there. He also made lots of friends at the Elks club. John was also very mechanical. He was often found tinkering in the garage and even built his own dune buggy that he would take to the Sand Dunes. Saturdays often included going to remote control car races. Grocery shopping often proved an opportunity for John to get a rise out of his kids as he tossed items at them while walking through the store. A member of Holy Spirit Catholic Church, John was a man of traditional values.
John easily made friends and had a wide social circle. It is no wonder that while working for the food broker, he instantly connected with Kathy Algra. The couple enjoyed one another’s company and shared a beautiful companionship for over two decades. Happiest when with others, especially lending a hand to anyone in need, John naturally brightened each and every moment. He was a good cook and especially enjoyed pouring time into Thanksgiving dinner. While many people were better for John’s care, so were many cats and dogs he spoiled.
Sadly, John’smind started showing signs of clouding a couple of years ago, and he eventually needed more care, which he found at Georgetown Manor, where he spent his final days. While the world certainly feels less certain in the absence of John’s companionship, we will find much comfort in our many treasured memories. May we also find comfort in carrying his love for people and life forward. In each moment we greet a stranger as a friend, give of our time and talents, face life’s hardships with confidence, faith, and laughter, we celebrate the many ways John gifted our lives. In this way, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired us.
John A. Handlin, age 76, of Grand Rapids, passed away September 22, 2022. He is survived by his children, Marie (Jim) Guist and Patrick (Haijin Choi) Handlin; grandson, Vincent; and many friends. He will also be greatly missed by the woman who held his heart for nearly 24 years, Kathy Algra. John was preceded in death by his brother, Mike Handlin.
The service to celebrate John’s life will be held on Thursday, September 29, 2022, at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel. Friends may visit with his family following the service from 12 noon until 1 PM. Interment in Rosedale Memorial Park. To read more about John, to share a memory, or sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com