Tuesday, December 10, 2019
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EST
Living Hope Community Church
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
11:00 AM EST
Living Hope Community Church
2391 Hillside Dr. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49544
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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
A strong Christian gentleman, Ronald Ecker, loved his Lord and Savior, his wife, and his family. Ron was a kind and loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather. He welcomed each day as a gift, and every person he met as a friend. He lived his faith and in so doing, showed others how to do so as well. An inspiration to all who were blessed to know him, Ron will long be remembered and everso missed.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, the power of hope undulated in the hearts of many. With an innate drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, the nation continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was there more hope for the future than in Petosky, Michigan as Clyde and Mary (Rinenock) Ecker welcomed their son Ron into their hearts and home on September 7, 1932.
The second on the Eckers’ five sons, Ron grew up in the comforts of a home that was alive with activity. While his father worked as a carpenter, his mother served her family as a homemaker. Along with his brothers, James, Ted, Larry, and Louis, Ron attended Byron Center Public Schools. At a very early age, Ron fell in love with horses. It proved a love that would last his entire life. He raised many horses and ponies over the years and learned every facet of their care from shoeing to grooming and exercising them, Ron made sure they had the best. He participated in horse shows, pulling competitions, rodeos, and sulky races. Ron also loved to hunt and fish for anything that moved or swam. While his first job was delivering newspapers with his pal Buck Matthews, he also cleaned barns and stalls for extra money. Later, he worked the rodeo, where he also competed in roping and bull riding. It was then when Ron met his good friend, Chuck DeHaan who he came to ride the rodeo circuit with for a time. Later his friend, Chuck even went on to become a well-known Western artist.
At the age of 17, Ron joined the US Navy. For three years, nine months and three days, between October of 1950 and August of 1954, Ron honorably served his country in the US Navy during the Korean War aboard the; USS Corduba, USS Vulcan, and USS Jubilant.
After safely returning home from the Navy, Ron started dating Carolyn VanVleet, whom he had known since she was eight years old. On their first date, he took her to a pizza parlor she had never seen before. It didn’t take long for the pair to become a steady couple with plans for spending the future with one another. Thanks to Carolyn’s mother, Ron became a Christian, and he and Carolyn married at Apostolic Gospel Tabernacle on August 23, 1958.
The newlyweds began their marriage in Indiana but soon returned to West Michigan. The first moved to Muskegon, then to Grand Rapids in 1961. Eventually, they settled in Comstock Park. Ron and Carolyn were blessed to welcome five children into their family. Randy, Chris, Jerry, Brenda, and Dave were the center of their lives, and they worked hard to afford them a loving and supportive home. The children all attended Byron Center Schools, and their family life was firmly centered on faith. Ron proved a powerful role model for his children by embodying the principles of his faith. Not only did they always attend church on Sundays, but Ron also rooted all of his teachings and encouragement in Christian values. Ron also shared his love for pony racing, mushroom hunting, and the rodeo with his children. The family also enjoyed visiting family in Boyne Falls, MI.
Like his father before him, Ron provided for his family by working as a carpenter. He worked as a carpenter all his life and was a member of the AFL-CIO Carpenters Local Union 333. He worked for Barnes Construction and later Owen Ames and Kimble. Over his career, Ron worked on many buildings in the Grand Rapids area, including Van Andel Arena, St. Mary’s Hospital, Woodlawn Mall, many Walgreens, and many bridges in West Michigan.
Ron was also quick to give of his time and talents, especially when it came to his faith community. Over the years, he served as a church teacher, teaching Sunday school, bus ministry, and Bible study. He also served as a board member and preached in church on occasion. Ron faithfully read his Bible every day and was a witness to his Christian faith daily. Ron prayed for his family every day, and he was especially honored to baptize several of his grandchildren.
A humble man, Ron relished in the simple things in life. His love of fishing led to a collection of over 500 fishing poles, and many hours watching fishing shows. He loved the Farm channel, Hee Haw, and the Grand Ole Opry, but his favorite show to watch was Michigan Outdoors. If the radio was on, it was either tuned into WFUR Radio and his favorite Christian music, or the classic sounds of Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams, Jim Reeves. An excellent cook, Ron had a vast collection of cookbooks. He loved to shop for food at Meijer, searching out Daily Deals, the sales at the Dollar store, or buying quality meat at his favorite butcher, Sobie Meats. Ron treated his family to many tasty dishes and Sunday meals that often included roasts, chicken, Waldorf salad, sweet potato dishes, and many other favorites.
The turn of the century was marked by tragedy for Ron and his family when his son Jerry died of a heart attack in 2000 at age 41. With signature grace, Ron turned to his faith for comfort, and in so doing, provided a living example for the rest of his family. I
In 2001, Ron and Carolyn settled in Coopersville, where they enjoyed the freedoms that come retirement. A perfect day for Ron was one spent in the good company of his family. Whether loaning his lap to Brenda’s dog, Roudy, or enjoying a visit with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, his family was his heart’s delight. His grandson Glenn was a great help to him.
As Ron’s health began to decline the past few months, and he was faced with more and more health issues, his faith only grew stronger. He passed away at St. Mary’s hospital in the comforts of his loving family, who were at his side. Though it is difficult to imagine life in the absence of Ron’s steadfast presence, there is deep comfort in knowing his legacy lives on in the hearts of those who knew him. With each morning we begin with our Bible reading, homecooked meal we make, rodeo we watch, Jim Reeve’s Christmas song we hear, and lunker we pursue, we celebrate the many ways Ron gifted our lives.
Ronald Ecker, aged 87 of Coopersville, MI, went to be with his Lord and Savior on Saturday, December 7, 2019. He was the son of Clyde and Mary Ecker, who preceded him in death. He was also preceded by his son, Jerry Ecker, his brothers, James (Mary) Rinenock, Larry (Melba) Ecker, and Ted (Annabelle) Ecker. He is survived by his loving family, wife of 61 years, Carolyn Ecker (VanVleet); children, Randy (Joanne) Ecker, Chris (Harold) Strom, Brenda (Mike) Norton, Dave Ecker; 14 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren; his brother, Louis Ecker; many nieces, nephews and friends.
A service to celebrate Ron’s life will be held on Tuesday, December 10, at 11:00 am at Living Hope Community Church, 2391 Hillside Dr. NW, Grand Rapids. Burial in Maplewood Cemetery. Relatives and friends may meet his family at Heritage life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW Grand Rapids, on Monday, December 9, from 5:00 – 8:00 pm and again at the church on Tuesday from 10:00 am until the service begins at 11:00 am. Contributions in his memory may be made to Living Hope Community Church. To read more about Ron’s life, to sign his guest book and leave your own memory of him visit his web page at www.heritagelifestory.com