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MS Foundation National Headquarters
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Life Story / Obituary
Simon Bruinsma approached his life with great optimism. A devoted husband, father, and grandfather, he wanted nothing more than to share time with his family. Known for his genuine good nature and generosity, he leaves behind a rich collection of fond memories for all who knew and loved him.
So much of the 1940s were characterized by WWII. It was a time of great significance in our nation. In 1945, Simon and Hilda (Krikke) Bruinsma welcomed home their newborn son, Simon Jr, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on May 1st, just a few days before German troops laid down their arms on what was known as V-E Day. Joining the family as the third child out of five, his birth brought great joy and happiness to his loving parents.
Sy lived a typical childhood of the times in the family home on Arianna NW. His father was a foreman at General Motors and his mother was a wonderful homemaker. His mother’s sisters all lived close by and therefore much of his childhood memories included spending time with them. Along with his siblings, he attended West Side Christian School where he received a sound Christian education. He and his friends enjoyed playing pick-up games at Richmond Park and stayed out in the neighborhood until the street lights came on playing ball games. In the winter months, they returned to the park to enjoy tobogganing and ice skating. On Saturdays, Sy and his cousin, Mart, took the city bus to the YMCA to watch movies, swim, and play games. Typical of the times, he and his brother, Bernie pedaled a paper route for a number of years. Sy was especially proud of his Schwinn corvette bicycle!
As a family, they rented a cottage on Hess Lake each summer along with the Hollebeek family and made many lasting memories. Sy gained a love of fishing during these trips and enjoyed several fishing trips to Canada with his longtime buddies over the years. In high school, he was a member of the swim team and met his sweetheart, Judy Houtman. After graduating with the Class of 1963 from Grand Rapids Christian High School, Sy entered the world of work as a construction worker. He was employed by Terhorst and Rinzema and later Gordon Food Service and Earhardt Construction.
Sy and Judy married at Beckwith Christian Reformed Church, actually, officially they were married at the rehearsal the night before because it was the last day the government allowed marital deferment from the draft. Together they had two wonderful daughters, Tammy and Wendy. As a father, Sy was always patient. There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for his family. To offer encouragement, he even took piano lessons alongside his daughter, Wendy. Sadly, Judy, Tammy, and Wendy all predeceased him. Sy was left to pick up the pieces. Roughly two years later, he called up Donna Bailey Llewellyn who he had previously met at a Choraliers concert and asked her out for coffee. Hitting it off, they married a year later on January 13, 2009, at the chapel on the campus of Kuyper College. They enjoyed a brief honeymoon in Chicago and later a cruise in Alaska. Sy and Donna made their home in Knapp Valley Condos until moving to Covenant Village of the Great Lakes. Both fond of travel, they went on seven cruises, visiting Iceland, Greenland, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, and exploring the Rhine River. They also enjoyed several winters in Florida.
Sy held a wide range of special interests. He loved bicycling on local trails, motorcycling, and also range shooting. When it came to sports, he favored the Detroit Red Wings hockey team. He loved singing and was a member of the King’s Choraliers for many years making many lasting friendships. He loved choral music and enjoyed Lawrence Welk. Uncommon for someone from his era was his disdain for Rock ‘n Roll! Much later in life, Sy enjoyed cooking. He even posted his own video on YouTube of him preparing pineapple appetizers. He enjoyed hot dogs although it took a few years to eat them again after working at a meat plant as a teenager!
Sy had a joyous and positive approach to life. He valued taking advantage of opportunities as if everything was always a once-in-a-lifetime event! He was kind but always had a little mischievous gleam in his eye! There is no doubt that Sy left a lasting impression on everyone he met. He will surely be missed by his many special friends and loved ones.
Simon “Sy” Bruinsma Jr. aged 76 passed away Wednesday, February 16, 2022. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Judy, his daughters, Tamara McCully and Wendy VanderMeer; his parents, Simon and Hilda Bruinsma and his sister, Dorothy (Chet) Willemstyn. He is survived by his wife, Donna; his granddaughters, Kaitlyn VanderMeer, Lauren VanderMeer; siblings, Shirley (Carl) Verspoor, Bern (Patsy) Bruinsma, and Mary (Jack) VandenBerg, and numerous nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be held Monday at 3 PM at Heritage Lifestory Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW with interment in Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens. Friends may meet the family at the funeral home on Sunday from 3-5 PM and for one hour prior to the service on Monday. Memorial contributions may be made to the National MS Foundation, 375 Kings Highway North, Cherry Hill, NJ, 08034. To leave a memory or sign the guestbook please visit www.heritagelifestory.com