Friday, October 11, 2019
12:00 PM EDT
LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church
107 LaGrave Avenue SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Friday, October 11, 2019
1:00 PM EDT
LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church
107 LaGrave Avenue SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
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.
Calvin Christian Schools
3750 Ivanrest Ave., SW
Grandville, MI 49418
Parkinson Voice Project
646 N. Coit Road, Suite 2250
Richardson, TX 75080
National Park Foundation
1110 Vermont Ave, NW, Suite 200
Washington, D.C., DC 20005
Life Story / Obituary
Patient, gentle, and compassionate are only a small collection of words to describe the personality of Gene Bartman. A natural teacher and good listener, those who knew him well might have sought from him good advice and wise direction. He was a loving husband, a caring father, and a loyal friend to many. He will live forever in our memories.
Before Gene's life began, the 1940's decade was an emotionally mixed period, as it started with raging war - but those times eventually saw relief and some strides toward peace. Specifically, the year 1945 symbolized the transition in many ways. President Franklin D. Roosevelt won the election for an unprecedented 4th term in office, but his death prompted Vice President Harry S. Truman into the presidential position. The world found a bit of relief when the news of Adolph Hitler's reign finally ended, and the liberation of many concentration camps became a reality. All of this eventually led to the end of World War II in the late part of summer.
Right around the same time, life was sweetly changing for William and Theodora (VanderBok) Bartman. After a move from Iowa to Grand Rapids, Michigan, they settled into a small farm located between Moline and Byron Center. It was here they welcomed their precious baby boy, Eugene Quentin. His big brother, Virgil, happily took on his new responsibility of being a good role model for his baby brother. Their parents worked hard to support the family; his father was an electrician and a gentleman farmer, while his mother took care of the boys.
In time, the family welcomed the birth of little brother, Glenn. With three boys in tow, the family was often a bustle of mud, frogs, and dirty socks! Virgil, Gene and Glenn spent much of their time exploring the local creek. Any frogs near the bank were fair game for catching and possibly eating! Though the boys did have some responsibilities too; Gene looked after the farm animals and attended to regular farm chores to help out his parents. He also benefited from the annual opportunity to raise a calf which he would sell at the market each fall. One highlight of his youth was taking a trip out west to see family. This trip was a very big deal to all of them. His parents also saw to it that the family had a strong religious foundation, which they built with the help of the Moline Christian Reformed Church. Though they had a very modest family life, Gene had a happy and comfortable childhood.
With all the play, Gene did buckle down to complete work as well. He attended a one-room schoolhouse before Byron Center Christian School. In addition to doing well academically, Gene was musically talented. He took up playing the trombone and continued to play it for the rest of his life. He earned his high school diploma with the class of 1963 from South Christian High School. From there, he enrolled at Calvin College, where he continued to enjoy traveling with the band. Eventually, he received a master's degree from Eastern Michigan University.
While Gene studied at Calvin College during his freshman year, his life focus expanded. Gene's cousin helped him out in the love department and introduced him to Mary Dyksterhouse. The two shared a coffee on Hall Street one day and started to date immediately afterward. Their courtship lasted about three years before they decided to exchange vows. Their wedding took place at Calvin College Chapel during their semester break. While the snow continued to fall just a few days after Christmas, they officially became Mr. and Mrs. Bartman on December 27, 1967. The newlyweds spent their honeymoon in Chicago. Though it was only for a few days, the trip was more than memorable primarily because of the photos Gene snapped with their new camera.
The happy couple settled into married life in Ann Arbor. Mary attended the University of Michigan, and Gene went to ESU while teaching at South Lyon Jr. High. They helped build their home in Ann Arbor with Royal Arbor (a company that allowed them to save money completing some of the labor themselves). During the build they rented a home on Whitmore Lake. It was in their Ann Arbor home they joyfully welcomed their daughter, Kim, into the world.
In 1973, the family decided to move to Battle Creek. Gene found employment with Harper Creek High School as a counselor and coach. Not long after this move, they celebrated the birth of their son, Trent.
A little under a decade later, Gene and his family moved again to Grand Rapids. This move provided the opportunity for Gene to work at Calvin Christian High School, where he stayed for 23 years of dedicated service working as a teacher, counselor, coach, and Athletic Director. Again, they worked hard to design their own home on Streamside Drive near Rockford.
Gene always found time to enjoy the important things in life outside of work. His family was his priority, and he always made plans for quality time with them. Some of these times included camping in many National Parks during the summer months. Some of his favorites was Yosemite and Half Dome. He had a passport book, which included stamps from all the parks they visited. As a father, he supported his kids and coached them both as they were growing up. The holidays came with their sentimental traditions too. The family always looked forward to gatherings at the Dyksterhouse side of the family for Christmas Eve, followed by the Bartman side on Christmas Day. His kids could always count on their dad to make them smile, as he wasn't afraid to be goofy right along with being gentle and caring.
When Gene had moments in life to savor on his own, he kept himself busy. He liked to tinker with woodworking projects, which included small furniture, tables, and desks. He loved cars too, especially the Pontiac convertible and Volkswagon van. Coaching was naturally in his blood, and he combined his love for golf to coach the sport well into his retirement. To keep up on his game, he played in church golf leagues, as well. Also, he sang in the German choir and played in the Jubal Brass ensemble. For many years, he tried to capture the beautiful moments in the world with his camera. Some of these moments occurred while enjoying another passion he had: sailboating. When all else failed to entertain him, his taste buds ruled. He loved Mary's cooking, along with anything that would satisfy his sweet tooth. Gene was equally great with food prep, however, and was known to cook up a mean breakfast or man the grill with meat perfection.
Gene maintained a dedicated faith throughout his life, which is what lent itself to his ability to be such a compassionate counselor, understanding friend, and loving partner to Mary for over 51 incredible years. In his lifetime, he practiced his faith at Ann Arbor CRC, Battle Creek CRC, Westview CRC, and LaGrave Avenue CRC. In these locations, he served in many roles, some of which included an elder, a deacon, and a choir member (singing bass or tenor).
After a life of service, praise, and joy, Gene Bartman is now in his heavenly home running, singing, and golfing without the limitations of Parkinson's, which he dealt with for the past 20 years. Gene will always be regarded as the gentle man who motivated, counseled, taught and coached the young people under his care. He was born July 21, 1945 in Grand Rapids to the late William and Theodora (VanderBok) Bartman. He is also preceded in death by his infant sister, Eleanor; brother, Virgil Bartman; sister in law, Marcia Bartman; and brother in law, Ken Dyksterhouse. Gene is survived by his wife of 51 years, Mary; children, Kim Bartman of Dallas, TX, Trent (Tera) Bartman of Grand Rapids; brother, Glenn (Janet) Bartman of Wyoming; brothers in law, Karl (Jan) Dyksterhouse of Grand Rapids, Don (Mary) Dyksterhouse of Supply, NC; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and longtime friends. A memorial service will be held Friday, October 11, 2019 at 1 PM at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church, 107 La Grave Ave SE. Friends may visit with family on Thursday from 4-7 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Memorials may be made to Calvin Christian Schools, Parkinson Voice Project or National Park Foundation. To read more of Gene's life story, to leave a memory or condolence visit www.heritagelifestory.com.