Life Story / Obituary
As his family and friends can attest, Charles Dykema truly understood the secret to a life well lived. He was a constant support of strength and support for those around him, even in the most difficult of times. Chuck’s primary focus was fostering relationships with those around him, and he had a heart for serving those in need and helping others whenever he could. He treasured his loved ones above all else, and he was happiest when surrounded by their love. Chuck was well known for his unwavering spirit of determination and his relentless work ethic. Deeply loved, Chuck will be forever missed by those who knew him best.
It was exciting to be an American during the decade that we commonly recall as the Roaring Twenties. Refrigerators, washing machines, and motion pictures in both color and sound were among the noteworthy advancements. It was also during this time that John and Alice (Kuiper) Dykema were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Charles on January 17, 1927.
Growing up Chuck was a typical young man of his generation in many ways. He was raised alongside his siblings, John, Peter, Martha, Paul, Andy, and Ben. The children were all very close growing up, and though they fought at times they were able to be there for each other when it truly mattered. Chuck shared an especially close bond with his brother, Andy, and the two would later go on to work together. Chuck’s father supported the family by working as a farmer and an excavator, and his mother remained close to home while working as a seamstress. The Dykema family moved around the Grand Rapids area several times throughout Chuck’s childhood. One of the houses the family had lived in ended up burning to the ground as one of the children was playing with matches and accidentally started a fire. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
The tough times of the Great Depression certainly took their toll on the Dykema family. Like so many others, they struggled to make ends meet and the children often took on jobs of their own in order to contribute to the family. After the 8th grade, Chuck left school to begin doing odd jobs, usually working in a factory. From a young age, he understood the value of hard work and built the foundation of the solid work ethic that would serve him well for his entire life. Chuck also learned how to make what little he had stretch. In addition, he would walk places instead of riding the city bus so that he could save his nickel to buy candy. Holidays were celebrated with nearby relatives, and though the family couldn’t afford to take vacations they still created many priceless memories that Chuck could look back on with fondness. The Dykema family attended the Protestant Reformed Church, and Chuck enjoyed playing outdoors with his brothers and other neighborhood children.
Feeling the call to bravely serve his country, Chuck joined the Army at the age of 18. However, he had joined on the tail-end of the Korean Conflict so he was discharged after two years of service.
New and exciting changes were on the horizon for Chuck as he met the woman who would soon become his wife. Her name was Margaret VanDenBerg, and she worked as a school secretary. Over time, their relationship was able to grow and blossom into something truly special. In the presence of friends and family, Chuck and Margaret were married on October 26, 1951. The newlyweds went on to settle into their first home at 3 Mile and Fuller Avenue, ready to begin their lives together.
All who knew Chuck can certainly agree that he treasured his family above all else. He and Margaret were overjoyed to welcome eight beloved children into their hearts and home. Chuck did his best to raise his children, Charles, Marcia, Edwin, David, Randy, Donald, Karen, and Larry, into kind and hardworking individuals of character. He was a loving but firm parent. Chuck enjoyed giving his children experiences he had never been able to afford including memorable camping trips to Ludington State Park with others from their church. The family also rented a cottage on Big Star Lake with relatives and spent summers at their trailer at Sandy Pines Resort. As a family they took one very memorable car trip to Key West, Florida, in their big station wagon. Later in life, Chuck was thrilled to welcome stepchildren and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren into his family as well. He always considered himself blessed to be surrounded by so many loved ones.
Chuck was forever willing to work as hard as he needed to in order to support his family. He and his brother, Andy, shared an interest in tractors and heavy machinery. Andy was also a good businessman who started his own business, Dykema Excavators. Chuck went on to work for the company, operating the machines and doing his best to grow the business. He retired at the age of 62, ending a long and fruitful career.
Never one to sit still for long, Chuck pursued many hobbies to stay busy in his free time. He loved listening to classical music and would often retreat to his barn where he had an old barber shop chair that he would sit in while he listened for hours. Chuck enjoyed snow skiing and traveled to ski in California, Colorado, and Vermont, as well as to various Michigan resorts. He was very artistic and liked to paint oil pictures and create amazing drawings. An avid reader, Chuck would read the newspaper front to back, and he also enjoyed borrowing religious books from the church library. His faith was very important to him, and he was a longtime member of East Leonard Christian Reformed Church, where he actively served as an elder. Chuck often volunteered with the North End Community Ministry, Kids Food Basket, and Coit Community Church. He also volunteered with Christian Reformed World Relief doing construction work. Chuck was the kind of man who could appreciate the simple things in life. He was known to salvage what he could and repurpose items into something he could use, giving these objects new life.
In 1995, Chuck suffered the devastating loss of his beloved wife, Margaret. Fortunately, he was not alone for very long. Within two years, Chuck was introduced to a woman named Ruth Fonger by a mutual friend. She was also a recent widow, and over time the two grew to form a very special bond. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Chuck and Ruth were married at Mayfair Christian Reformed Church. They enjoyed traveling the world together, and they often took volunteer trips, serving others in whatever ways they could.
When reflecting on the life of Charles Dykema, it is easy to see his unwavering strength and his unconditional love for others. He valued his family and friends above all else, and he was always willing to go above and beyond to help those who needed it most. A proud husband and father, Chuck was overjoyed to watch his family tree blossom to include so many loved ones. He was known for his Godly character and strong work ethic, and he poured his heart and soul into everything that he did. Though he will be deeply missed, Chuck leaves behind a priceless legacy that his loved ones will be proud to carry on in his footsteps.
Charles Dykema, “Chuck” age 95 of Grand Rapids, MI, went to be with his Lord and Savior on Tuesday, April 19, 2022. He was born in Grand Rapids, MI in January of 1927 to the late John and Alice Dykema. Along with his parents, he is preceded in death by his first wife Margaret who died in 1995, his second wife Ruth who died in 2019 and his son Edwin Dykema. Chuck is survived by his children Carl Dykema, Marcia and Kevin Meyer, David and Sue Dykema, Randy and Sally Dykema, Don Dykema, Karen and Bill Roest and Larry and Ladda Dykema; brother Ben and Charlene Dykema; sister-in-law Carrol Dykema; brother-in-law Tob Visser; step children David and Barbara Fongers, Terri and Tim VanEerden, Cheryl and Vaughn Talmsa and Jim and Anita Fongers and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be held on Monday, April 25, 2022 at 11 AM at East Leonard Christian Reformed Church, (1027 Leonard St. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503), with Pastor Terry Slachter officiating. Friends may meet with the family on Sunday, April 24, 2022, from 3-5 PM at the Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes Van Strien-Creston Chapel, (1833 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505). Visitation has also been scheduled prior to the service at church at 10 AM. Charles will be laid to rest next to Margaret in Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens. For those who wish, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to East Leonard Christian Reformed Church.