Thursday, April 15, 2021
2:00 PM EDT
West Leonard Christian Reformed Church
1053 Leonard Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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.
Word Of God For Asia
PO Box 284
Charlevoix, MI 49720
Life Story / Obituary
A faithful man of God, David Earl Kass left his loving mark on this world. His generous and easygoing personality lent to a lifetime of teaching. Coupled with his faith with his Lord and Savior, he positively influenced others throughout his entire life. He was a family man with a strong will for constant adventure. Whether you knew him as a son, husband, father, grandfather, or friend you knew him for his determination in life. We will never forget him.
David began his life in 1935. He was born into a decade that saw its share of difficulties with the Great Depression, but it was also a time of optimism and enthusiasm. The family game of Monopoly created in-home bankers and the ownership of Park Place without leaving the dining room chair. And when kids tired of the four-hour match, they were likely to boogie down with the latest dance: the "Swing" created by Benny Goodman. The sweet Shirley Temple was a top box office attraction, while Amelia Earhart's news spread for flying solo across the Pacific Ocean. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the United States Social Security Act, and the Boulder Hoover Dam was almost complete. The country knew there was no limit to the capabilities of the land if there was determination.
That kind of determination found its way into a small up north town named Ellsworth in May of that same year. Charles and Jessie (DeJong) Kass welcomed their sixth child, a sweet baby boy on May 15, 1935. David Earl began his life living on the family farm established by his parents, Dutch immigrants. They worked hard to live a good life; his father farmed their land, worked at the hardware store, and after they moved to Grand Rapids he became a solderer for the Haskelite factory. His mother was a homemaker looking after the children while keeping things organized and peaceful among the children. She also worked as a personal caregiver for the elderly when time allowed.
Sadly, David's sister, Alida Mae passed away two years before he was born. David shared many happy childhood memories with his four other siblings: Fran, Ted, Frank and Walt. They were a close family, which helped when tragic times forced them to pull together for support. Just a couple of days after David's 16th birthday, tragedy struck when his father passed away. David found quick maturity, which he embraced as he began to look after his mother in his father's absence. He continued with this role until her death at the age of 83 years old.
David began his education in the halls of the Ellsworth Public Schools. However, when he was seven, the family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he attended West Side Christian School. During his free time, David followed his big brothers around doing whatever they did. He also played his fair share of softball. There were plenty of stories to share of his memories playing in the alleys behind their home on Lincoln St. NW. Once, he even broke his nose playing catcher in one of the games. In the winter, he might have been found downhill skiing at Richmond Park. The Kass Family looked forward to Christmas every year. They would rent a large gym and gather with the extended family for potluck dinners.
David held a particular determination about the direction of his life, starting at a young age. Upon entering Grand Rapids Christian High School, he paid his own tuition and completed grades 10-12 in just 2-1/2 years! To be clear, though, he maintained he never allowed his education to get in the way of his social life; his report cards often commented, "Dave can do better if he applies himself."
After he celebrated his high school graduation, David moved on to Calvin College. While attending college, he sold cars at the car lot he owned on Grandville Avenue. Life got a little more serious when he met Karen Potts on a blind date. Dave was a senior at Calvin in 1956 when the two began seriously dating. Karen also took classes at Calvin and was training to become a nurse at Butterworth Hospital. Dave graduated in 1957 and wasted no time in proposing marriage to the love of his life. She wasted no time in saying yes!
They began planning for their wedding. The couple celebrated the ceremony on August 29, 1958, and they exchanged vows at Karen's home church, Atwood Christian Reformed Church in Atwood, Michigan. Mr. and Mrs. Kass took the weekend for a honeymoon at a cottage in Onaway, Michigan.
Upon their return to newlywed life, they lived in a tiny, rented apartment on Fountain Avenue NE in Grand Rapids for the first three months before moving into Dave's mother's vacant house for several more months. Neither were quite finished with their education, as Karen still had one year left of training before becoming a nurse, and Dave had his eye on graduate school.
However, they were on their way - building productive lives together. In time, David went to the University of Michigan for his Masters and Ph.D. He was determined to work even harder, especially since creating a family was on their minds. In grad school, Dave took his education more seriously, earning all A's and B's. He also completed a six-month program serving with the U.S. Army at Ft. Ord in California and Ft. Leonardwood in Missouri. He did allow some fun during this period in his life playing softball.
After a couple of years, the couple decided they were ready to embark on their next adventure together when they welcomed their first baby into the world! Brian was born in 1960, quickly followed by his little sister, Brenda, in 1961. And just like that - the family grew to four.
This young Kass family took a little time to settle into a place they could call home. For some time, they moved into an apartment on Union Avenue NE, followed by yet another apartment on Walker Avenue NW. This family needed a house! They bought one in 1963 on Arianna Street N.W. They finally had a place they could call home - for a short while. These new walls witnessed all kinds of beautiful moments shared with young kids learning about the world. It was a happy time, so happy that the foursome joyfully celebrated the birth of Darla in 1965 - making their family into five.
For many, the life they had built together would have been plenty; however, Dave's sense of adventure was not yet fulfilled completely. There were still things to discover and do in the world. In that spirit, the family made a bold decision to sell their home, furniture, and everything unnecessary in preparation for a move to Mexico City, Mexico, in 1967. Their goal: to start a Christian school for missionary children. They packed up with three young children in tow and headed off to make big dreams become a reality. It took a 13-foot trailer and four weeks to make their way to the destination. Their children were 7, 6, and 2-1/2 years old. While Dave started the Christian school for missionary children through the Christian Reformed Missions, their time in Mexico City was a challenging, interesting, yet rewarding two years of their lives. They completed this trip with one of the best souvenirs a family could ask for: their 4th child. Cheryl was born in 1968 while they lived in Mexico City, and she completed their family.
Throughout his life, Dave proved to be a patient father and teacher. In both roles, he disciplined his children with love, with the expectation that they respect and obey. He lived by way of example, with unconditional love, and through the love of Christ. Thus far in his life, Dave had held teaching positions at Ada Christian School and West Side Christian School teaching grades 6-9. In Mexico City, he taught grades K-9. Desiring to pursue his education, the family decided to move back to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1969. His goal was to attain his Ph.D.
Continuing to study intently, Dave always made time for his family. For the next several summers, they took family camping trips near the Ann Arbor area. Their children began to mature and find passions in many areas. His daughters took up playing the violin and flute, to which Dave enjoyed listening to immensely. He also found pride watching his son run cross-country in track. Their focus as a family did not make them immune to tragedy. Sadly, they endured the loss of Karen's parents in a car accident in 1971. With the support of friends and the love of family, they found the goodness in life again. Despite these challenging times, Dave went on to graduate, receiving his Ph.D. in 1972, which provided a reason to celebrate.
Finally, in that same year, the family found a house located on Clover Drive N.W. Here, the family grew up, and Dave and Karen shared the magic of witnessing their children fly successfully from the nest called home. Amongst these busy years, Dave answered the call to teach special education at Godwin Heights Public Schools for 11 years, followed by Jordan College in Fremont. He deservedly retired in 1986.
As an educator, Dave's summers allowed him time off from work; however, ask any teacher, and they will tell you that this time is fleeting! Dave was not one to sit idle either, and so he went to work driving semi-trucks which earned a bit of extra spending money to afford family vacations during school breaks. One memorable trip was a five-week family trip through Europe when their children were young, traveling in a Volkswagon camp mobile. They also took many family trips to the U.P., positively influencing the fate of three of their children who now have cottages on Lake Michigan where the entire family enjoyed treasured times together there over the years.
Karen retired in 1999, and this occasion invited many new traveling opportunities for them. Dave went to work thinking of the possible adventures ahead, as he was never one for organized group trips and preferred flexibility. They traveled to all 50 states and every province in Canada - except one. They traveled most of Mexico, took two trips to Israel, visited the seven churches of Revelations, spent time in China, England, and various destinations in Europe. He and Karen took their motorhome from Grand Rapids to Costa Rica. The more excitement for Dave, the better he liked it. For Dave, the joy was in the journey, not just the destination. For their 50th wedding anniversary celebration, they rented a six-bedroom home on 70 acres in Tabernash, Colorado. All of their children and grandchildren stayed for ten days. This vacation turned out to be one of their favorites by far.
Spending time with his grandchildren was one of Dave's highlights in life. He enjoyed participating in their activities and spending time with them. No stranger to tragedy, Dave and his family suffered great sadness when his 21-year-old grandson perished in a car accident caused by an unexpected deer collision in 2010. They leaned into one another for support and found the grace to move on with sorrowful hearts.
When David was not teaching or traveling, the grass never grew under him. If something broke, he enjoyed the task of tinkering - never wanting to pay for parts or service - always finding innovative ways to improvise for himself; if he could tinker while listening to Christian hymns or old-time favorites - even better! This work led to a healthy appetite; Dave was never a self-professed cook in the kitchen, he could fry an egg if pressed to do so, but he was better suited to consume the delectable treats prepared by others. He fueled his work with occasional favorites, including hamburgers, Long John Silvers, or early morning treats from the donut shop. He often made these food trips driving one of his beloved convertibles. From his days owning a car lot while in college, Dave always enjoyed buying and selling cars. For exercise, Dave played on a softball team occasionally until the age of 65 at the CRC Recreation Center.
David also shared his love of Christ and his heart devoted to deep faith. He was a member of West Leonard Christian Reformed Church, where he served as a Sunday school teacher, was involved in Vacation Bible School, served as an Elder, and helped with anything to do with missionary work. He even helped start the mission emphasis at West Leonard.
In time, age began to slow Dave down a bit. In 2017, he suffered his first heart attack, which landed him in the hospital for the first time in his life. He took this as a caution but discovered his body meant business when he suffered another heart attack in 2019. This one resulted in a tech marvel: a pacemaker! The device did not improve his energy level much, but it provided him a little more peace of mind. Then in October 2020, David realized his age was winning over his body. His health greatly diminished. In a critical state, he went under the care of hospice while in the comforts of his home. It was his ultimate desire to remain at home, and with the help of his children, loving wife, and the expertise of hospice, he was able to do so. On April 5, 2021, the Lord graciously welcomed Dave into his eternal reward! We will never forget his place in our lives or his mark on this world. His contagious love for the Lord, passion for teaching, and adventurous spirit will forever be missed by all those who loved him.
DAVID E. KASS, age 85, transitioned from his earthly home to his long-awaited heavenly home on April 5, 2021. He was born in Ellsworth, MI, on May 15, 1935. He was preceded in death by his grandson, Levi Francis, his siblings; Frances (Casey) Dykstra, Ted Kass, Frank (Dorothy) Kass, and sisters-in-law, Carolyn Kass and Rose Ann Pott. He is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Karen (Pott), his children; Brian (Ellie) Kass, Brenda (Mike) Boluyt, Darla (Jamie) Francis, Cheryl (Scott) VanTuinen, grandchildren; Andrew Boluyt, Laura (Ian) Nieh, Kyung Jae Cho, Mitch (Alex) Francis, Erin (Sam) Stafford, Katelyn (Austin) Vander Weide, JR (fiance Toni Priebe) Van Tuinen, Tyler Van Tuinen, 5 great-grandchildren; Vera, Hazel, Gloriana, Kaden and Addisyn; brother, Walter Kass sister-in-law Ellen Kass, brothers and sisters-in-law; Carl Pott, Elaine (Ron) DeYoung, Shirley (Bob) Hoekstra, and Milt (Norma) Pott. Dave graduated from West Side Christian, Grand Rapids Christian High, Calvin College, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. His teaching career included Ada Christian, West Side Christian, Mexico City Missions, Godwin Heights Public, and Jordan College. Visitation will be Wednesday, April 14, from 5-7 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive N.W. A memorial service will be held Thursday, April 15, 2021, at 2 PM at West Leonard Christian Reformed Church, 1053 Leonard Street N.W. Those who wish may make memorial contributions to Word of God For Asia. To read more of Dave's life story, to leave a memory or condolence, please visit www.heritagelifestory.com