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Grace Christian Academy
1000 Ball Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
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Life Story / Obituary
Remarkably successful, John Rademaker modeled a lifetime of hard work and commitment to the community he loved. He will be dearly missed and fondly remembered by his many special friends and loved ones for generations to come.
Proud parents, Jay and Marena “Irene” (VandenBout) Rademaker welcomed home their newborn son, John Henry, on July 29, 1928, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Joining his older sisters, Jeanne and Mina, and later followed by a younger brother, Richard, and a younger sister, Mary, his birth brought great hope and promise to his parents during an exciting time in our nation’s history.
Growing up near College and Shirley Streets in northeast Grand Rapids, John lived a typical childhood of the times. He attended Hastings School yet never really felt engaged at school. John much rather preferred working especially with his hands. Ambitious and eager to make his own way in the world, John held a paper route in his early years. He loved taking the family dog, Trixie, along for companionship. His paper route led him to work on the boxcars. John spent his time loading and unloading shipments working many long hours. When the time was right, he enlisted in the United States Army and served during the Korean Conflict. John was stationed overseas in Germany and earned the rank of Sergeant. He was fond of these years and proud to serve his country.
Back in the states, John was happy to land a job with the Kent County Road Commission. During his nineteen years there, he primarily drove the trucks which he loved. It was about this time that he was introduced to a young lady, Shirley Vandyke, who was new in town while attending Heritage Reformed Congregation. She had recently moved to Grand Rapids from Wisconsin and John enjoyed striking up a conversation with her about his hometown. She took him up on an offer to go out on a date and the rest was history! They married on May 11, 1954, in the home of her parents. John was busy building their forever home on Oakhurst so as newlyweds lived with his sister for a short time. Working long hours each weekend and after work in the evenings, they were thrilled when their home was finally complete! Together they raised four wonderful children; Pat, Jane, Kristi, and John.
A strong provider for the family he loved, John’s career continued at Velting Construction for a short time until he landed with Kamminga & Roodvoets where he spent the rest of his years before retirement. Known as the bulldozer King, John worked the heavy machinery and had mastered moving earth and clearing debris from job sites. The endless summer road projects had him busy and often driving a great distance to the job site each day. For several summers, he would rent a cottage for his family near the construction sites allowing him some time with them before the sun went down. During the winter months, things were much slower and he could enjoy being home and working on projects around the house. He later purchased a few apartments and spent his winters making improvements or cleaning them. He was never one to sit idle. There was always work to be done.
John never had much spare time, but any chance he had, he shared doing his favorite things. In his younger years, he loved to go hunting, especially pheasant hunting. He was also known to tinker in his yard. John spent a lot of time reading. Most reading sessions included smoking his pipe. He mostly engaged with various types of religious commentaries or the latest books about his faith as a Christian. His favorite author to read and study was John Calvin. To know John, was to know that he was a man of strong convictions.
Retirement afforded John and Shirley time to enjoy their winters in Florida. Their time there grew to a full three months spending most of their visits at Anna Maria Island. They made some close friends down in Florida and John loved to go fishing. Back home, the two of them enjoyed socializing and spent many Friday and Saturday nights out to dinner with their closest friends. They become regulars at the local restaurants; Tillman’s and Duba’s in town. Sadly, Shirley passed away in 2013 after a courageous battle with cancer. John leaned on his family for support and found comfort from his new church, Providence Reformed. May his loved ones never doubt his love for each and every one of them and may his memories be eternal.
Mr. John Henry Rademaker, age 93, of Grand Rapids, entered into the presence of his Lord and Savior on Saturday, January 15, 2022. John was preceded in death by his wife, Shirley; his sisters, Mina Van’t Hof and Mary Carlson; and his brother, Rich Rademaker.
He is survived by his children, Pat (Don) Westrate, Jane Rademaker, Kristi (Jon) DeMeester, John (Amy) Rademaker; grandchildren, Meleah (Brent) Gibson, Jacob (Leanne) Westrate, Anna (Stephen) Klaasen, Ryan (Charvie) Rademaker, Neil (Kopper) DeMeester, Stacy DeMeester, Jennifer (Jonathan) denHollander, Kimberly (Ryan) Mulder, Rachel Rademaker, Heaven Rademaker; 12 great-grandchildren; sister, Jeanne Rice; sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law Flo Rademaker, Richard Carlson, Maurice (Helen) Vandyke, Elizabeth Balk, Betty Vandyke, Jan (Gary) Sebright, Sue (Scott) Packer; and numerous nieces and nephews.
His funeral service will be held at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home–Van Strien Creston Chapel (1833 Plainfield Ave NE) on Thursday, January 20 at 10 AM. Relatives and friends are invited to visit with John’s family on Wednesday, from 5-8 PM and on Thursday beginning at 9 AM.
For those who wish, contributions to Grace Christian Academy are appreciated. To share a memory or to sign his online guest book, please visit www.heritagelifestory.com