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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Paul Stegink would agree that he was hardworking, honorable, and selfless. He believed in treating others right and was a man of his word who was content to serve in the background in ways both great and small. Paul firmly believed in being courteous of others in both word and deed. He treasured time spent with his family and considered it his greatest blessing to provide for his family. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
It was as winter continued to hold the city of Holland, Michigan, firmly in its grip in February of 1937 that Benjamin and Minnie (Windemuller) Stegink were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby. Their wait was over on February 25th when the baby boy they named Paul Gordon made his grand entrance.
Growing up, Paul was raised in the family home as the youngest of three children. He discovered his love for camping at a young age, and this love remained for the rest of his life. Paul and his siblings, Isla and Jack, often enjoyed family camping trips at Silver Lake State Park when they usually slept in a tent with no floor. During his teenage years, Paul enjoyed playing football, but incurred a back injury that would have repercussions throughout the rest of his life. He attended Holland Christian School to pursue his education.
Throughout his childhood, Paul became very interested in cars, especially old vehicles. Along with his cousin, he began working on such cars whenever he could. Following his high school graduation, Paul worked a variety of jobs. For a short time, he served as a reserve deputy for Ottawa County, where he mainly did patrol routes through residential neighborhoods and provided extra manpower during festivals and parades. Paul later moved to Grand Rapids to settle in with his sister. He began working for his brother at Jack and George’s Garage, a service station that was partially owned by Jack.
One day, a Chevy Hardtop rolled in to fill up with gas and it was driven by a young woman named Charlene Phillips. Paul was instantly attracted to her and, after a friend bet him a coke that he would not ask her out, he mustered up the courage to ask her for a date. The two hit it off instantly and quickly became very close. On September 25, 1964, Paul and Char were married in the presence of friends and family members at 4th Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. The newlyweds enjoyed a honeymoon vacation to the traditional spot of Niagara Falls. For the next couple of years, Paul and Char lived in an apartment on Burr Oak. In 1966, they built their forever home on Montreat Court where they would go on to raise a family and spend the rest of their lives together.
Paul was never one to shy away from hard work when it came to providing for his loved ones. He continued working for his brother Jack until the shop closed and then moved across the street to work as a mechanic for VanAndel & Flikkema. Since he had always been interested in the police and fire departments, Paul also began serving part-time as a firefighter at station 15, which covered Grand Rapids Township. In 1980, the township built a station very close to Paul’s home and he became a full-time firefighter. In everything he did, Paul was tirelessly dedicated to his job. He always kept a scanner on in his home, even placing a speaker in the air duct so that he could always hear it throughout the house. At the time, Paul was one of the few full-time firefighters, so he was often the first to respond to an emergency. When Paul needed to become certified as an EMT, he and Char took the classes together. The pressure of being a first responder took an emotional toll on him. He always put his heart and soul into his service, and in the later years each emergency call became increasingly personal. He served his last few years as the township fire marshal before retiring in 1996, a total of 30 years serving as a firefighter. In order to continue providing for his family, he began working as a janitor and driving school bus for Plymouth Christian Schools (where Char was his supervisor).
Nothing brought Paul greater joy in life than his family. Throughout their years together, he and Char welcomed three boys into their hearts. Sadly, the oldest, Gordon, passed away in infancy. Paul’s sons, Scott and Mark, were the center of all that he did. He liked to play in the yard with them, take them fishing, and included them in his tinkering around the house and in the garage. No matter where his work or his life took him, Paul always kept his family as close as he could. He kept their pictures in the lid of his toolbox as a testament to his highest priorities. Paul always put his family first, and everything else came second. Later in life, he was blessed to become a grandfather and watch his family tree grow to include many new branches of loved ones.
Never one to sit still for long, Paul pursued many hobbies to stay busy in his free time. He took meticulous care of everything that he owned, including his trailer, boat, and even his lawnmower. Paul loved cars throughout his entire life, and he had a special fondness for the ones he personally owned. He kept them washed and waxed, and he often involved his boys in the repairs as well. Over the years they took several fishing trips, including an annual trip to a cabin on Sugar Island during the first week of August. This became their favorite vacation spot each year. These trips eventually moved to Drummond Island, the setting for countless priceless memories. The family also enjoyed camping in everything from a tent camper to larger trailers. They liked to visit several state parks and smaller campgrounds, including Lake Mitchell, Ludington, Tall Timber, Cran Hill Ranch, and Paradise Cove. Paul loved spending time with his family around a campfire, often with his familiar pipe in his mouth. He enjoyed listening to all kinds of music and would make mix tapes of all his favorite songs to play in the car. Paul had a passion for all things baseball as he would watch the games, chart the stats, and even use spreadsheets to track and analyze the players. One day, Paul surprised his family with a small Yorkie named Prince that was dropped off at the station. Prince went on to become a beloved member of the family for twelve years.
Over the past 20 years, Paul dealt with various health issues that increasingly challenged his daily activities. Although he had to slow down, he was so thankful to be able to stay at home through his last days because of the devotion of his family, especially his beloved Char.
In everything he did, Paul Stegink was mindful of others and willing to serve. He had endless amounts of patience and only spoke up when necessary. Paul never wanted to be a burden to anyone and believed in seeing every commitment through. Even as his physical abilities declined, he struggled in receiving help from others when he only wanted to be the first to give. To his sons, he was the ultimate father, admired for his faith and devotion to his family. He leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever cherish.
Paul G. Stegink, aged 85 of Grand Rapids Township passed away with his family at his side Tuesday May 24, 2022. He was preceded in death by his parents Benjamin and Minnie (Windemuller) Stegink, his sister and brother-in-law Isla and Virgil Beld, his sister-in-law and brothers-in-law Thomas Langerak, Karen and Jan Magnuson and an infant son Gordon Scott Stegink. He is survived by his wife of 57 years Charlene, his children Scott and Tina Stegink of Grand Rapids, Mark and Jodi Stegink of Grand Haven, grandsons: James Stegink, Thomas Stegink, Matthew Stegink, Trent Stegink, Wil Stegink; his brother Jack (Betty) Stegink; sisters-in-law Ruth Langerak, Linda (Bill) Boylen, Mary Lou (Rick) Menken; as well as nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be held Wednesday June 1, 2022 at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield N.E. Interment in Washington Park Memorial Gardens. Relatives and friends are invited to visit with his family at the funeral home Tuesday May 31, 2022 from 5 to 8 P.M. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Faith Hospice are appreciated. To read more of Paul’s life, to share a memory or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com.