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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Floyd Veenstra would agree that he was an extraordinary man to know and love. His faith was the cornerstone on which his life was built and he treasured his family above everything else. Although Floyd treasured his roles as a husband and father, he just might have argued that nothing was better than becoming a grandfather later in life. Although he will be deeply missed, he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
With the end of WWII in 1945, America was making the shift to being a nation at peace once again and the baby boom was underway. It was on June 7, 1949, that Floyd Marlin was welcomed into the world by his parents, Gerritt and Connie Veenstra, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was raised in the family home on Courtney Street, NW, alongside his seven older siblings, Pauline, Harold, Andrea, Caroline, Trudy, Gerritt, and Henry, and his younger sister, Susie. Growing up Floyd was closest to his brothers Gerritt and Henry as they are referred to as “the three little boys.” Their home had one bedroom for the girls and one for the boys. Floyd was also very close to his youngest sister, Susie as they were closer in age. He also became very close with his brother, Harold, who became a father figure of sorts when their father suffered a stroke when Floyd was young. To support their family, Floyd’s father worked as a janitor for West Side Christian School while his mother was a homemaker and an aide at the Christian Rest Home.
In many ways Floyd experienced an upbringing that was fairly typical for the youth of his generation and their family took nothing for granted. To help with the finances, the children also worked to help support the household and, specifically, to help pay for their Christian education. It was while growing up that Floyd’s faith was established as they faithfully attended 12th Street Christian Reformed Church. They were there for every service and activity. As a student he attended West Side Christian School and Grand Rapids Christian High School, graduating in 1967. In addition to holding down his studies, Floyd worked at Bylsma Pancake House. Although his parents didn’t drive cars, his siblings did and Floyd taught himself how to take care of the repairs that many of these cars needed. His interest in cars would carry with him later in life and would include the restoration of his red 1974 Chevy Corvette. He also continued to support Christian Education by serving on the board of West Side Christian School where all of his children attended.
After graduating from high school, Floyd was eager for all that life had in store. He volunteered for the Navy and volunteered for service in Vietnam. Floyd was a Navy Hospital Corpsman while serving a tour in Vietnam, and returned home a couple of weeks early to attend the funeral of his father, Gerritt. After serving his country, Floyd began working as an EMT for Bud’s Ambulance Service in Grand Rapids and attended Grand Valley State University under the GI Bill.
Not to be forgotten during his years as a young man was Floyd’s introduction to the beautiful, young woman of his dreams. Her name was Nancy Jean Myers, and they were introduced by a mutual friend from the Bylsma Pancake House. They met at a local restaurant, and after dating for about two years Floyd proposed on one knee at her parents’ house (immediately after asking her father’s permission). With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Floyd and Nancy were married at Central Reformed Church in Grand Rapids on June 15, 1973.
When the newlyweds returned from a honeymoon in Traverse City, they settled into an apartment on 12th Street, NW. It was there in 1976 that they welcomed their first son, Rob, into their hearts and home. Soon after, Floyd and his family moved to their own home on Widdicomb Avenue, NW, where their family was later completed with the births of Kim in 1978 and Kelly in 1982. To support his family, Floyd worked as a deputy with the Kent County Sheriff’s Department. Although work kept him busy, he was also actively involved in the lives of his children as he was there for all of their events and activities. As a family, they continued the tradition of renting cabins up north every summer around the 4th of July. They also took one monumental trip out West by car for six weeks. Floyd always worked hard so that he could provide his children with opportunities he never had while growing up.
Throughout his life Floyd was a man of many interests. He enjoyed both reading and outdoor activities like hunting and fishing, but nothing was more important to him than loving God and loving people. Next to his Bible, he often had a notepad where he would journal and share scriptures with others. He was very active in their church, Westend Christian Reformed, where he served as a deacon, elder and a mentor. Floyd volunteered with Kids Hope USA by mentoring one child at a time and served others with special needs through Friendship Club. Floyd also enjoyed eating out and would frequent the same establishments every week. For example, he met friends every Saturday at Mr. Burger and would connect with his best friend, Tom, later at night at places like the former Shawmutt Inn. However, he would likely argue the most important weekly meal was Sunday after church when his three kids would return home to share a meal. As the years passed, the table simply grew larger to include spouses and the eight grandchildren, Devyn, Korbyn, Tristyn, Zaidyn, Wyatt, Alivia, Norah, and Emma. In addition to family dinners, Floyd attended nearly every activity of his grandchildren, including sports and concerts.
Floyd and Nancy also enjoyed traveling. Whenever they could, Floyd loved leaving Michigan winters behind to travel to warmer climates. During their retirement years, Floyd and Nancy did some traveling, such as Caribbean Cruises with friends or family. They were also able to travel to Hawaii twice and enjoyed a cruise in Alaska, among other amazing destinations. However, the vacation that likely meant the most to him was the annual trip up north with his family and the Myers family because he also loved spending time with his wife, his children, and his grandchildren.
With a journey that spanned times of great change in the world around him, Floyd Veenstra lived of life of purpose while holding his loved ones near. He worked hard, but he took the time to enjoy life along the way. Guided by his unwavering faith, Floyd savored each and every moment spent with the ones he loved. Humorous, supportive, kindhearted, and a big teddy bear, he will never be forgotten.
Floyd Marlin Veenstra died Monday, May 2, 2022 while in the comfort of his home and is now in the arms of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Floyd was born in the summer of 1949 in Grand Rapids, MI to the late Gerritt and Connie Veenstra. Along with his parents, he is preceded in death by his brother Harold and sister Trudy Cummings. Floyd is survived by his his wife of 49 years, Nancy [Myers] Veenstra and their children Rob (Kristen) Veenstra, Kim (Doug) Greer and Kelly (David) Eggleston; grandchildren, Alivia and Emma Veenstra, Devyn, Korbyn, Tristyn and Zaidyn Greer and Wyatt and Norah Eggleston; siblings, Pauline Green, Andrea Michael, Caroline Rockwood, Gerritt Veenstra, Henry (Kathy) Veenstra and Sue (David) VanHouten; in-laws, Bob (Phyllis) Myers, Dick (Kathy) Myers and Chuck (Pat) Myers as well as many nieces, nephews, and friends. Floyd served in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. He also served as a Kent County Sheriff Deputy for many years until retirement. Funeral services will be held at 11 AM on Thursday, May 5, 2022 at Westend Christian Reformed Church, (1015 Westend Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504). Friends may visit with family from 2-4 PM and 5:30-7:30 PM on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Alt Shawmut Chapel, and for one hour prior to the service at the church on Thursday. Contributions made in Floyd’s memory to Westend CRC, (1015 Westend Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504) or to West Side Christian School (955 Westend Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504) would be appreciated. Please visit Floyd’s personal memory page at www.heritagelifestory.com, where you can share a favorite memory or photographs, and sign the online guestbook.