Thursday, September 5, 2019
1:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Van Strien Chapel
1833 Plainfield Ave., N.E
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
service will be streamed via facebook live. Find us on facebook at Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
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.
Holland Home Resident Assistance Fund
2100 Raybrook SE, Suite 300
Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Dedicated, loyal, and generous, Martin Stoutjesdyk Jr lived a life rich in family and service to others. A man of few words, Mart’s actions spoke volumes. He quickly gave of his time and talents, never needing the spotlight and firmly believing that it was his duty to share the gifts he had been given. Devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Mart will long be remembered by those he loved.
1928 continued to ride the decade’s roaring wave of peace, prosperity, and hope. The nation celebrated the recent inventions of Penicillin, the iron lung, bubble gum, and the Yo-Yo, as well as Charles Lindbergh’s Congressional Medal of Honor and Amelia Earhart becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. As the wave of sweeping social and economic growth rapidly increased nowhere was there more hope for the future than in the Grand Rapids home of Martin and Irene (Gilson) Stoutjesdyk as they welcomed their son Martin into their hearts and home on December 13.
The youngest of the Stoutjesdyks’ three sons, Mart grew up in a home that was devoted to family. Keeping up with John, who was eight years older, and Clayton “Bud,” who was six years older, kept Mart busy. Though he first lived on Boston Street SE near Breton, much of his childhood was spent in a house on the property that is now Breton Village. Mart attended Breton Downs Elementary School. Summer weekends were extra-special as the family spent them at their cottage on Brower Lake where Mart’s passion for fishing was born. As a teen, Mart’s capacity for service was evident in his devoted and faithful care of his grandfather. He visited his grandfather twice a week to bathe and shave him. This routine went on for over 25 years.
After graduating from East Grand Rapids High School where he ran hurdles on the track team, Mart went on to further his education at Davenport University. After a couple of years, Mart realized school was not for him. He didn’t like being inside nor the idea of working in an office. Instead of continuing with school, Mart worked with his brothers in their businesses for a short time before settling for his longtime career as a heavy truck mechanic. During the early years of his career, Mart worked for several dealerships. In time, he settled in for the long haul with Jack Keller Ford. When he first started in the field, the work required tremendous physical strength. Much of his day was spent working in trenches under trucks and hoisting engines with pulleys. Highly skilled, his quick and efficient work won him the loyalty of several companies who in turn only allowed their trucks to be worked on by Mart.
Fate blessed Mart with the gift of meeting his wife, Shirley Wessell, at Hazenburgs – a local drug store where she was a waitress. Though he often pestered her at work, she agreed to a date; the rest is history. The happy couple married on September 19, 1952, at the Calvin Theological Seminary chapel.
The newlyweds made their home on the southeast side of town where in time, they were blessed with two children; Jim and Judy. Mart was a wonderful father who was totally invested in his children. Mart included his kids in everything. While living on Burton, he grew an extensive vegetable garden. Not only did he grow veggies for his family, but he also grew kusa squash, which was popular in many middle eastern cultures. With an enterprising spirit, Mart embraced the labor-intensive growing season. His hard work culminated with the family piling into the car in the evenings to peddle the squash to customers. The evening not only often included Mart treating the kids to ice cream, but also receiving lots of Greek pastries and other goodies along the way.
Mart always found a creative way to use his skills to make extra money. He enjoyed including the kids in his endeavors. He took the kids on projects he devoted himself to, routinely helping relatives with home projects in Kalamazoo. As they traveled to and from the projects, Mart would lovingly tell his kids, “When much is given, much is expected.” Not only was Mart a hard worker, but he also knew how to play. Whether playing ball in the yard or going fishing, time spent with his kids was his heart’s delight.
As his children grew older, Mart and Shirley bought a cottage on Intermediate Lake in Bellaire. Working side by side, they carefully fixed it up. Eventually, they built a new home in front of the cottage – doing nearly all the work themselves, including rerouting a stream. Mart had a knack for finding things with value that he would keep or eventually sell which made antiquing a natural fit. This passion became a bigger part of his life in retirement years as he and Shirley routinely sold things at flea markets. Many seasons were spent at 28th Street, Muskegon, and Trufant markets where those who knew Mart would see a totally different side of him. Here Mart was in his element--talkative and fully engaged with people, enjoying the thrill of selling the treasures he found, purchased, and restored.
Retirement also afforded Mart more time casting for lunkers. No matter the season or place, Mart found his way to the water. Open water or ice fishing, the thrill was the same. Whether in Grand Rapids or at the cottage or in later years in Florida, surf fishing or fishing from the pier Mart was most content with a rod and reel in his hand.
Mart was a doting grandfather. Though he possessed a stubborn side that once sparked would flare and quickly burn out, he also had a special way of teasing that always included a sparkle of affection in his eye. Regardless of distance in time and space, Mart and Shirley found ways to stay in touch when they couldn’t visit. Many fond memories were made fishing together; the kids were always amazed at his catch.
With unwavering faith, Mart was a lifetime member of what is now Heritage Reformed Congregation where he and Shirley participated in the fellowship of the church. In their retirement years, they spent time in Florida. Mart and Shirley enjoyed Bible studies and playing games with the many friends they made in their second home.
For the past 13 years, Mart and Shirley made their home at Holland Home Raybrook where Mart continued to embrace each day as a gift. Over the course of the last year, Mart faced a series of health challenges that eventually became too much. While it is difficult to imagine life in the absence of Mart’s steadfast presence, may we find comfort in carrying his legacy forward. With each moment we volunteer our talents, take time to play with the children in our lives, enjoy the thrill of a newfound treasure, or cast our lines into the still waters, we keep Mart’s spirit alive and inspiring others as he inspired us.
Martin Stoutjesdyk, age 90 of Grand Rapids passed away September 2, 2019. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Shirley; children Jim & Debbie Stoutjesdyk and Judy & William Bolhuis; grandchildren Scott (Sara) Stoutjesdyk; Jason (Edlyn) Stoutjesdyk, Jim (Lora) Stoutjesdyk, Amanda (Tom) Tsiouklas, Zach (Amanda) Baker, Jared (Becky) Baker, Katie (Brandon) Bosch; Brooke (Eric) Greenley, Brandon (Megan) Bolhuis, Brenna (Jeff) Miller, Brianne (Brian) Whalen; 24 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandson; sisters-in-law and brother-in-law Marilyn Stoutjesdyk, Marilyn Wessell, Nancy Bernard and Gerald Williams, as well as many nieces and nephews. Mart was preceded in death by his brothers John (Louise) Stoutjesdyk and Clayton “Bud” Stoutjesdyk. His funeral service will be held on Thursday, September 5 at 1 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE, where friends are invited to visit with his family on Wednesday from 2-4 and 6-8 PM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to either Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary or Holland Home Resident Assistance Fund are appreciated. To read more about his life, to share a memory or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com