Wednesday, July 15, 2020
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Fellowship Reformed Church
6610 36th Ave
Hudsonville, MI 49426
Use Door "D"
Thursday, July 16, 2020
6:00 PM EDT
Fellowship Reformed Church
6610 36th Ave
Hudsonville, MI 49426
Use Door "D"
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.
2100 Raybrook Drive SE, Suite 300
Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Please specify "Trillium Woods"
Keys for Kids Ministries (formerly known as Children's Bible Hour)
PO Box 1001
Grand Rapids, MI 49501
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With a generous heart and unwavering integrity, Kenneth John Wildeboer lived a life rich in family and faith. Quiet and hardworking, Ken was never one to demand the spotlight. With a humble sureness of himself and tremendous pride in those he loved, Ken greeted each day as a gift and every person as a friend. Embodying the principles of his faith, Ken proved a powerful role model for all who were blessed to know him. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, and community member, Ken was revered by many, and his legacy will live on for many generations.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, the power of hope undulated in the hearts of many. With an innate drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, the nation continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was their more hope for a brighter future than in the Grand Rapids home of Albert and Ruth (Loosenort) Wildeboer as they welcomed their son Kenneth on June 3, 1932.
Ken grew on the Northeast side of the city, where his first home is now the location of the Creston High Pool. His early years were built upon firm family values and active membership at Bethel Reformed Church. Here the seeds of his lifelong faith firmly rooted and grew strong. Along with his younger sister Eleanor, Ken attended Palmer Elementary and later Creston High School. He was a good kid who always gave his best.
While in school, Ken’s lifelong love for baseball began. He spent many hours playing game after game with his friends. He also worked at his father’s hardware store on Plainfield Ave. after school. After graduating from high school, Ken enlisted in the Coast Guard. He spent most of his time on the East Coast, proudly serving his country. He made many wonderful memories during his service. He loved the water and the great experiences in the cities he frequented. His most fond memories we of playing second base on the Coast Guard’s baseball team. His talents on the field were widely recognized, and the Orioles drafted him. As the team played on Sundays, Ken chose to honor his mother’s wishes and turned their offer down.
After safely returning to his home in West Michigan, Ken enrolled in Davenport College classes and began working in the banking industry. Not too long after, he had the good fortune of reconnecting with a young woman from church, Phyllis Buckel. Ken and Phyllis knew one another from their childhood years. Instantly smitten, Ken grew the courage to ask her out. The date was a success, for a year and a half later, they chose to unite in marriage. The young couple married at Bethel Reformed Church on June 27, 1958, officially beginning their 49-year adventure.
The newlyweds made their first home on the Northeast side of Grand Rapids. After a few years of marriage, they moved to their longtime home on Oaklawn NE. Here they were blessed to raise their three daughters. Sheryl, Sue, and Sandy were the centers of Ken’s life, and he relished in ensuring their good care. An active and involved dad, he naturally made each of his daughters feel like daddy’s special girl. He played blocks and hide and seek almost every day after returning home from work. He encouraged all of their endeavors, including their years running track, and playing tennis and volleyball. He also made sure they knew the games of baseball and football.
A constant, calm presence Ken, never raised his voice, and the girls respected him so much that knowing they didn’t measure up to his expectations proved ample discipline. The family enjoyed camping. Each summer, Ken would set up the trailer in Holland and commuted to work. They also spent time camping in Wisconsin when Ken took summer classes at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he earned his Master’s degree. The girls also have many fond memories of their father taking them with him to close the office when he worked at the United Bank branch in the Meijer on 28th St.
Once the kids were grown, Ken and Phyllis felt frustrated when his bank closed, and his new job in Chicago required them to move away from their church and family. Despite their disappointment, their 15 years in Chicago proved wonderful. The Lord blessed them with many new friends and wonderful opportunities to explore the city. They often returned to Hudsonville to see their children and grandkids, and their children enjoyed taking their families to visit and Chicago too.
After retiring, Ken and Phyllis returned to their roots and settled in Hudsonville near their family. They loved being closer to their children and grandchildren and eventually having the delight to welcome great-grandchildren into their family. Ken was very invested in his family. He nurtured relationships with each of his family members and actively supported them in every way. He encouraged their faith while consciously growing his own through his involvement at Bethel Church. Over the years, he served his faith community as an elder and deacon, proving a powerful role model for all who were blessed to know him. One of Ken’s greatest joys was sharing his love of baseball. He played well into his senior years and loved watching his grandkids play the game as well.
Ken and Phyllis made many wonderful memories at their place at Nettles Island, Florida. What began with spring break visits, eventually grew to several winter months, and often enjoyed hosting family visits. Anyone who knew the couple knows that Phyllis was more naturally social and would typically be the one to break the ice with new friends. However, once the initial connection was made, Ken was very friendly as well. He enjoyed golfing and playing horseshoes and even participated in a play in Florida.
When Phyllis became sick in 2006, she focused her last year on helping Ken learn the skills he needed to be on his own. With great love and care, Phyllis taught, and Ken learned. Much to both their credit, though he missed her greatly, Ken was able to comfortably live on his own after she passed away. Despite not particularly enjoying cooking, he enthusiastically held open invitations for Saturday donuts at his home and Wednesday breakfasts at the Rainbow Grill.
Without a doubt, the world is significantly darker in the absence of “Pa’s” steadfast presence. And while we mourn our loss, we find comfort in knowing he has been granted his heavenly reward and is reunited with his beloved. May we find additional comfort in proudly carrying his legacy of faith and love forward. Just as “Pa” centered his life in his unwavering love for his Savior, so too can we find strength in the words he turned to so often, “I will not abandon you or fail to help you.” Joshua 1:5
While our hearts are breaking, we know we will one day be reunited in Heaven with him and his beloved Phyllis. Until then, he will be deeply missed by his three daughters Sheryl and John Keur, Sue and Dave Van Noord, Sandy and Cal Van Ooyen; his twelve grandchildren Tim Keur, Kerri and Marty DeGlopper, Kristi and Mathew Sattler, Jordan (Jamie) Keur, Karli, and Buddy Becker, Brady Keur, Lindsey, and Tyler Kempema, Zach and Erin Van Noord, Cody Van Noord, Courtney Van Ooyen and (Bryce), Hank Van Ooyen and Cassie VanOoyen; his eleven great-grandchildren. Also cherishing his memory are his sister Eleanor Beeny; sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law Char and Roger Ritsema, Shirley and Larry Rudnik.
Relatives and friends are invited to meet his family on Wednesday, July 15, from 6-8 PM at Fellowship Reformed Church, 6610 36th Avenue in Hudsonville (Please use door D). His funeral service will be held at the church on Thursday, July 16, at 6 PM with Rev. Don Van Slyke officiating. For those who wish, memorial contributions to either Trillium Woods of Faith Hospice or Keys for Kids (formerly Children’s Bible Hour) are appreciated.
To read more about Ken’s life, to share a memory or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com.