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.
Van Andel Institute - Parkinson's Research
333 Bostwick Ave. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
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Life Story / Obituary
Daniel Clair Terwee was a humble man whose caring ways inspired all who were blessed to know him. A man of few words, Dan was always quick to offer his time and talents in the service of others. He was a loyal friend was content to share and support others in a quiet and consistent way. Gentle and kind, Dan loved the simple things in life like the satisfaction of a hard day’s work and time with those he loved. Revered by many, Dan will long be remembered.
Though 1938 held much to celebrate, including President Roosevelt’s signing of The Fair Standards Act, Hollywood’s film version of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” and Seabiscuit’s astonishing “Race of the Century” win, the continued challenges of the Great Depression coupled with the systematic persecution of Jews in Europe, spread concern and fear across the globe. Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression and the growing conflict in Europe, many families found the way to continue to center their lives in love and hope for a brighter future. Nowhere was that hope more evident than in Grand Rapids, Michigan where Clarence and Emma (Helzer) Terwee welcomed their son Dan into their hearts and home on March 26.
As a child, Dan lived on his family farm near Wilson and Lake Michigan Drive in Standale. During his earliest years, Dan’s father owned and operated a gas station on their farm. When times grew his father closed the station and went to work for furniture manufacturers as he was a gifted woodworker. Dan’s mother was a homemaker. Clarence and Emma raised both Dan and his older sister, Donna, with strong family values and excellent work ethics. Dan and Donna were very close. With just three years between them, they were one another’s first best friend. They could often be found playing together. Donna rode the scooter and Dan the tricycle. During the winter, they enjoyed sledding and ice skating. Most summers included long days of swimming in Fennessy Lake. The Terwee family always had lots of people over for holidays. As both Clarence and Emma came from large families there were many aunts, uncles, and cousins to enjoy. Many would spend the whole weekend together. Family vacations included Sunday picnics “up north” at Croton Dam, and there was one memorable trip to Niagara Falls.
From the start, Dan possessed a strong love for animals. He enjoyed caring for the horses and riding the pigs. His pet beagle was a constant companion. As a matter of fact, he accompanied Dan on his paper route, enthusiastically pulling Dan’s paper cart. Dan was good at everything. An eager learner, he was never one to shrink in the face of a challenge. He attended Cummings Elementary school through 4th grade. After a year at Grandville Elementary for 5th grade, he returned to Cummings where he stayed until it was time to enter high school. Dan was a proud member of the Grandville High School class of 1956 where he participated in track and cross country.
At the age of 18, Dan found work at Michigan Bell where he literally began in the mailroom. At the age of 20, Dan enlisted in the Army National Guard as well. For two years he proudly served his country in this way. It didn’t take time for Dan to outgrow the mailroom and find work as a mechanic at Alpine Garage. For 30 years, Dan maintained and serviced trucks at the garage until he decided it was time to retire and begin a new adventure.
In his twenties, Dan purchased a farm on 14th Avenue, near Marne. While working in his career as a mechanic, he rented out the farmhouse and the acreage. After retiring at 48, Dan had a log cabin built on his property on Sand Creek. Then, he purchased dairy cows and began his own dairy operation. Dan was a hard worker who loved the demands dairy farming required. He enjoyed waking long before the sun, tending to the animals or crops, and ending the day in the full satisfaction of a job well done. When he no longer could make the dairy go, he continued to farm his acreage.
Though Dan never married, he was involved with Donna's family. He was happy to be a fun, involved uncle. The kids loved going to his farm and tagging along with and bugging their uncle. Never one to frazzle when it came to the kids, he made sure their time on the farm was fun and adventurous. He had a sleigh his horses pulled that always proved a good time for all.
Dan had many interests that included: snowmobiling, antique cars, and hunting. Over the years, he enjoyed many hunting trips to Montana with his friends. There they would hunt on horseback. He especially enjoyed having had the opportunity to take a hunting trip to Alaska. Dan was a big fan of Golden Gloves Boxing and watching baseball on TV. His favorite meal was ribs, and he liked to hang out at the local German Village restaurant and bar. His love for all animals was most evident in his affection for his dogs, especially Tator and Ralph who were his devoted companions and were always with him. Their loss was very hard on him.
Without a doubt, the world feels less certain without Dan’s steadfast presence. May it afford deep comfort to know that each of us holds the best of his legacy in our hearts and that as we share these gifts, we keep his spirit alive and emanating out to others. And in this way, Dan will continue to inspire others as he so inspired us.
Daniel Terwee of Grand Rapids, MI, Age 81, passed away November 11, 2019. He is survived by his sister, Donna Sawyer of Alpine Township; nieces, Dianne (Brian) Boelens of Walker, Luanne (Victor) Wisniewski of Clarksville; nephews, Donald Sawyer of Allendale, Ronald Sawyer of Pierson; several great-nieces and nephews; many friends and neighbors; and his good friend, Randy. Daniel was preceded in death by his brother-in-law, George Sawyer; and great-nephew, Brandon Boelens. A funeral service will be held Saturday, November 16, 2019 at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Friends may visit with family beginning at 10 AM. Interment will be in Rosedale Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Van Andel Institute, Parkinson's Research. Daniel's family wishes to thank the staff of Green Acres Standale and Hospice of Michigan for their loving care. Please visit Daniel's personal web page to read more of his life story, leave a memory or condolence at www.heritagelifestory.com.