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Christian Rest Home Foundation
1000 Edison Avenue NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around him, Roger VandeKopple made the most of each and every day he was given. He worked hard, but he took the time to enjoy life along the way. Eager to serve, Roger’s life was guided by his unwavering faith as he experienced both the peaks and valleys of life. A loving husband and father, he was blessed to witness his family tree blossom to include the grandchildren and great-grandchildren he adored. Life will never be the same without Roger here, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.
The 1920s were an exciting time in America. It was the Roaring Twenties when jazz music was hot, motion pictures came to life with both color and sound, and prosperity was largely felt nationwide. In many ways it was the calm before the storm that became the Great Depression of the 1930s. Amidst this exciting time was a time of great anticipation in the lives of Abraham John & Reka (Datema) VandeKopple as they were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as the calendar turned to welcome in 1926. Their wait was over on January 24th when the baby boy they named Roger James made his arrival. The oldest of three, he was joined in his family by his sister, Ruth, and his brother, Harold. Roger’s father was a tool and die maker who owned his own shop for a time while his mother was a homemaker.
Raised in the family home in the Alpine area on the Westside of Grand Rapids, Roger was a typical young boy of his generation. Because his father owned his own shop, they weren’t really able to take vacations but they did take some day trips to the beach or park. They also enjoyed family reunions. Roger liked doing things that young boys often did like swimming at Richmond Park. Music was always an important part of his life, and although he had a great tenor voice he was self-conscious about singing in public. Roger and his family were members of East Leonard Christian Reformed Church. As a student he attended West Side Christian School and then David Tech High School. After graduating from high school Roger enlisted in the Navy, serving primarily in Puerto Rico where he repaired and maintained ships.
Not to be forgotten during Roger’s years as a young man was his introduction to the woman of his dreams. Her name was Wilma, and they met while in high school. Although they had seen each other, they didn’t talk at all until one day when they were sitting together in the balcony of Alpine Avenue Christian Reformed Church as visitors who came to hear a guest pastor. Although they were interested, they were soon separated while Roger was serving in the Navy. With his military duties fulfilled, Roger returned home to pick up his blossoming romance with his sweetheart right where they had left off. With the desire to spend the rest of their lives together Roger and Wilma were married on October 23, 1947. The newlyweds then drove to New York City in an “old rattletrap car.” The couple initially lived in a couple of different apartments on the Westside in the Fourth Street area. Roger worked as a tool and die maker. Together they welcomed four children including Bill. Bob, Bruce, and Barb into their hearts and home. As a family they frequently went camping to parks throughout Michigan. Ludington State Park was one of their favorites as they often went there with a large group from church every year. They also took trips to New York and Colorado.
Throughout his life Roger was one to keep busy. He was a lifetime member of East Leonard CRC where he served as deacon, elder, and choir director. Roger was also involved with the Christian school. His favorite music was hymns as well as Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. Roger enjoyed reading novels that were based on true events. During their retirement years Roger and Wilma enjoyed spending time in Florida and South Carolina during the winter. They also took some bus trips to places like Branson and Washington, D.C.
All who knew Roger VandeKopple would agree that there was no one quite like him. He was a man of honor who was well respected and an excellent role model for all who were near. A friend to all, Roger was the sort of person who would do whatever he could for others as a faithful servant of the Lord. He experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer, but nothing was better than being surrounded by the love of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Deeply loved, Roger will be forever missed.
VANDEKOPPLE, Roger J.
Grand Rapids, MI
Age 92, entered his heavenly home December 26, 2018. Roger was born January 24, 1926 in Grand Rapids to the late Abraham and Reka (Datema) VandeKopple. He was also preceded in death by his son William VandeKopple. Roger was a WW II navy veteran and a long time member of East Leonard Christian Reformed Church. He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Wilma; children, Robert (Meredy) VandeKopple of Alanson, Bruce (Judy) VandeKopple of Grand Rapids, Barb (Brian) Strayer of Casnovia; daughter-in-law, Wanda VandeKopple; grandchildren, Jon (Tiffany) VandeKopple, Joel VandeKopple, Jason (Angela) VandeKopple, Julie VandeKopple, Erica (Phil) Heimforth, Tim (Ashley) VandeKopple, Leah (Adam) Ploeg, Matt (Lindsay) VandeKopple, Zach Strayer, Scott Strayer; & 10 great grandchildren. Also surviving are his sister, Ruth Knott; and his brother, Harold (Janet) VandeKopple. A funeral service will be held Sunday, December 30 at 3 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE. Friends may visit with family beginning at 2 PM. Interment will be in Fairplains Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Christian Rest Home Foundation. www.lifestorynet.com