Friday, November 20, 2020
2:00 PM EST
Washington Park Memorial Gardens
Life Story / Obituary
Some count their blessings by the homes they live in, the cars they drive, and the riches they have attained, yet in the heart of Bob Dykstra, there was no greater joy than the love of family, and he was content in simply being a good provider for the family entrusted to his care. Genuine and true to himself, Bob was an encouraging and caring man; a man who was never afraid to express his love. He had good, common sense, and through experience knew a lot about life and living. For these things and so much more, he will be deeply missed and fondly remembered.
The crash of the stock market in late 1929 created financial turmoil from coast to coast, and by 1930, 1,350 banks had failed in the U.S. The entertainment world was a welcome deviation from everyday worries while the famous masked man, The Lone Ranger, ruled the radio waves, later keeping young Bob spellbound. During these changing times in the riverfront city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the birth of Robert Lee Dykstra on March 2, 1930, found his parents, Martin and Tillie (Elhart) Dykstra with much to be thankful for.
Bob grew up alongside his siblings, Dorothy, Shirley, Norma, and Richard with whom he remained close. To support their bustling household, Bob’s father was a millwright at “The Bumper”, a nearby factory while his mother remained at home as a homemaker except during World War II when she too worked in a local factory. Although young Bob and his family struggled during the years of the Great Depression, they enjoyed the closeness of family and life on the west side of the city, eventually settling into their longtime family home on Gaynor Street NW.
Bob attended Fairview Elementary School. A young boy of his generation, he enjoyed getting together with neighborhood friends sharing boyhood adventures. During his youth he especially loved going rabbit hunting with his dad and brother and managed to get his driver’s license at the age of 14. No stranger to a hard work ethic, all while attending high school, Bob worked as a pinsetter at a local bowling alley and worked halftime in a factory before graduating from Union High School with the Class of 1948.
Bob was a proud Veteran having served in the U.S. Army and then the U.S. Army Reserves. He enlisted right after high school in 1948, and was sent to Texas where he completed boot camp. Bob served stateside and was in the reserves from August 1949 to September 1953 where he achieved the rank of Sergeant.
It was during his time in the service when Bob married the love of his life, Dorothy Smith. Having attended the same high school, they initially met at a mutual friend’s house in Walker Station, and it was Bob’s good friend who actually introduced them. After dating for less than a year and deeply in love, the two were joined in married by Rev. Dice on Arianna Street on March 23, 1949.
The newlyweds set-up their first home together in an apartment on 10th Street NW in Grand Rapids before they eventually began building a home of their own in 1954 on Maynard Avenue NW. They moved into it the following year and it remained their forever home until 2019. It was the very place where they made countless memories, and most importantly, raised their loving family. Blessed with four sons, Thomas, Robert Jr., David, and Daniel added much to Bob and Dorothy’s lives. A dedicated and devoted family man, Bob was a hard working, loving father to his boys and a wonderful example.
Bob worked as a cabinet maker, and for the gas company before furthering his education by attending the City Barber College of Detroit in 1962. He was a barber for a few years but eventually retired as a conductor with 27 years of service with the Chessie System Railroad - CSX. In all ways, Bob was a proud union member and Democrat.
In his free time, Bob was an avid fisherman. He enjoyed fishing for trout in the U.P. and bass and pike in Canada alongside Dorothy. He continued his love for hunting rabbit, pheasant, and whitetail deer in Michigan along with mule deer and antelope in the state of Wyoming. A true sportsman, he loved hunting, fishing and sharing pictures of his catch. For many years he bred and raised pedigreed beagles. His favorite by far however was his best canine companion, his beagle named, “Alex Bold”. Bob enjoyed country western music and gospel music. While in the Army he even pawned his watch just to see an Eddie Arnold concert.
For 40 years Bob & Dorothy spent two weeks each summer on Manitoulin Island, in Ontario fishing. During their retirement years they took many fishing and hunting trips and trips to visit family out of state. Bob was a daily regular at his favorite restaurant, “Bud's Hamburg” in retirement and on special occasions they often went to Grand Villa Restaurant.
Bob counted his hunting rifles, boat and fishing gear as his most cherished possessions, but his faithfulness and devotion was found in his church and family. Faith was the cornerstone of his life. As a couple, Bob and Dorothy were active, longtime members of Northwest Gospel Hall. In 1980, they even traveled to the Holy Lands. As a loving grandfather, his grandchildren meant so very much to him and when Bob loved, he wasn’t shy about telling you so! At times he wore his heart on his sleeve, and for 71 years, Bob bought a valentine for his sweetheart, Dorothy, every year, and “meant every word of it”.
Throughout the life of Bob Dykstra, love was what mattered most, and with faith as his guide, he loved unconditionally. A family man through and through, there was no place Bob was happier than sharing the company of those he loved. He helped others along the way, and whatever the task at hand, Bob gave it his all. Although dearly missed, gone but never to be forgotten are the numerous memories he leaves behind.
Robert L. “Bob” Dykstra Sr., age 90, of Grand Rapids, went to be in his heavenly home Friday, November 13, 2020. He was preceded in death by his parents and by his sister, Shirley Dykstra. He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Dorothy; his sons, Thomas (Ruth) Dykstra of Citrus Springs, FL, Robert (Dawn) Dykstra Jr. of Belding, David (Nichole) Dykstra of Columbus, OH, Daniel (Joan) Dykstra of Tallmadge; 12 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother, Richard Dykstra; sisters, Norma Vander Band, Dorothy DeJonge; sister-in-law, Theresa Smith; many nieces and nephews. A graveside service will be held at Washington Park Memorial Gardens. To read more of Bob’s life story and to leave a memory or condolence, please visit www.heritagelifestory.com.