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Rest Haven Homes
1424 Union Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
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Life Story / Obituary
With a vibrant and adventurous spirit, Ronald Rykse lived a life rich in faith, family, and friends. A man who never met a stranger, Ron could hold an engaging conversation with anyone. He always tried to get people involved and had a good time wherever he was. Whether home, at work, on the golf course, or in his boat, Ron embraced every moment as a gift. He never hesitated to lend a hand to someone in need or share his gifts with others. With unwavering faith and his beloved at his side, he raised a beautiful family and made many, many friends. An inspiration to all who were blessed to know him, Ron will long be remembered and so very missed.
Despite the obvious gloom of the growing conflict in Europe, 1939 held much to celebrate, including the end of the Great Depression, the premieres of the classic film Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, regular television began to broadcast nationwide, and The World's Fair in New York. As the US actively armed up for war, families continued to center their lives on love and hope for a brighter future. Nowhere was that hope more evident than in the home of William and Alice (Heslinga) Rykse as they welcomed their son Ron to their family on April 2 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The second oldest of the four Rykse children, Ron enjoyed an active childhood. His older brother was just a few years older, while his younger sister and brother were more than ten years younger. The family lived on the SE side of Grand Rapids, in a large colonial home on Kalamazoo Ave near 36th Street. His father ran a produce business, and Ron long recalled the long bike ride to school and sharing a spirit of adventure with his older brother. Mischief called their names, and they shared great times together, playing with BB guns, riding horses on the land, playing on the acreage, and hopping on the nearby train tracks. Family legend has it that they even traveled to Arizona as young teens with friends who shared the same spirit of adventure.
While in school, Ron had the good fortune of meeting his future wife, Carol Andree. After dating for a time, they married on September 26, 1955. The newlyweds made their home on the west side of Grand Rapids near her family. Over the next seven years, they were blessed to welcome five children to their family. Ron was an easygoing dad who worked a lot to support his family. Having loved trips to the lake as a kid, he created the same with his own children by going to Lake Michigan, renting cottages, and making trips to Silver Lake. He and Carol eventually bought a home on Valley Street, where they lived before moving to their longtime home on Clovercrest.
Ron provided for the family predominantly as a salesman in the food industry. His long career began as a milkman before he moved on to the bread business. He worked for a variety of companies, including Tasty and OvenFresh. While at OvenFresh, he moved into management, which perhaps gave him the confidence he needed to be more independent. Eventually, he pursued and earned an opportunity with Little Debbie as an independent distributor. He loved the job as he was able to grow at his pace and have some independence as well. He had a gift for gab but also enjoyed the work of setting and maintaining displays.
It was important to Ron to ensure his kids all went through the Christian Schools. Building on the firm foundation of younger years, he and Carol nurtured their faiths as members of Westview Christian Reformed Church for many years. In addition to faithful attendance, he also served for a time as a deacon. As he grew older, he was more prone to talk about his faith, especially in conversations with his brother Mel.
Ron and Carol enjoyed an active social life, participating in golf and bowling leagues with friends. Though Ron was more social than Carol, she was happy to join him. Ron also built a model motorized boat with some friends, that perhaps started his love of boats. As the kids grew into adulthood, instead of paying their tuition, he was able to spend some hard-earned money on boats. Each one bigger than the last, he eventually needed to keep them in a marina in Nunica. Ron and Carol enjoyed their boating time. After moving into a condo and retiring, they also came to enjoy more freedom to travel, spending time in Branson, Missouri, Florida, and many other places. For a time, to keep busy, Ron worked as a courier for Mercantile Bank for several years.
Without a doubt, Ron's grandchildren were his heart's delight. He loved them dearly and enjoyed spending time with them, riding bikes, supporting their sports and activities, and sharing laughter. Any time spent with family was a time to treasure. As they aged, Carol eventually needed additional assistance. Ron decided to follow her to a home where she could get the care she needed while continuing to share each other's good company.
A man who embodied his faith, Ron lived a wholehearted life, welcoming each moment and person as a gift to treasure. In doing so, he showed each of us how to live life to the fullest. Though life feels less certain in the absence of Ron's steadfast companionship, may we find comfort in our many wonderful memories. May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying his legacy forward. Whenever we confidently greet the day as an adventure, welcome a stranger as a friend, enjoy the outdoors, cheer on our loved ones' endeavors, and relish time with our beloved, we celebrate the many ways Ron gifted our lives. In this way, we keep his bright spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired us.
Ronald W. Rykse, age 84, of Grand Rapids, passed away on June 14, 2023. He is survived by his wife, Carol; their children Ronald & Liz Rykse, Randy & Joni Rykse, Pam Jackson, Scott & Kim Rykse; daughter-in-law Annie (Larry) Schwartz; 15 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great-grandchild; sisters-in-law Lois Rykse and Peggy Rykse; as well as several nieces and nephews.
Ron was preceded in death by his son, Mark; daughter-in-law Allison Rykse; his brothers, Melvyn and Ken Rykse; and sister, Sharon Rykse.
The service to remember and celebrate Ron's life will be held on Monday, June 19 at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Friends are invited to visit with Ron's family at the funeral home on Sunday from 6-8 PM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Rest Haven Homes are appreciated. To read more about Ron's life, to share a memory, or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com