Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Leonard "Jack" Elzinga

October 5, 1932 - November 10, 2019
Grand Rapids, MI



Thursday, November 14, 2019
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EST
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 453-8263
Driving Directions


Friday, November 15, 2019
11:00 AM EST
LaGrave Christian Reformed Church
107 LaGrave Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI
(616) 454-7204

Visitation from 10 AM until the time of the service.

Web Site


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.

West Side Christian School Foundation
955 Westend Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 453-3925
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Jack was an intelligent soul and an accepting Christian. He was always ready with a genuine thank you and would say so with a warm smile. He was a caring husband, a loving father, and a cherished grandfather and friend to many. We will miss him dearly.

On October 5, 1932 Leonard and Pearl (VanKuiken) Elzinga welcomed their son, Leonard Jack into the world. He was their firstborn child and went by the name Jack. Before long, he looked forward to meeting his little sister, Marcia, who helped complete the Elzinga family. Their parents worked hard to support the family; Jack's father was in food sales, and his mother was a secretary.

Jack spent his childhood in a home located at 1416 Garfield on the NW side of Grand Rapids. He attended West Leonard Elementary, where he began to develop an easy-going personality, which he maintained throughout his life. As Jack matured, he joined the band, marching and concert, in high school. He played the coronet and loved all music, including vocal.

His natural tendency toward hard work and dedication started at an early age. When Jack was 14 years old, he began working at two neighborhood stores, Hoogerhyde Hardware and Duthler Foods. As a moneymaker, it was not hard to impress Joan Van Houten. Still in high school, the twosome met while sledding with another couple at her parents' home off of West River Drive. Soon, their affections lead to going "steady." Eventually, he graduated with the Union High School class of 1950.

Jack and Joan continued their courtship while Jack worked at Lear Siegler. In time, General Motors offered him an apprenticeship, where he stayed until other duties called. In 1952, the Army drafted Jack. Before he left, he made sure to ask for Joan's hand in marriage. He was 20, and she was 18. She said yes, and their engagement lasted until 1954. Upon his return from service, they planned a wedding for November 19, 1954. They exchanged vows at Alpine CRC and honeymooned in Florida.

The newlyweds settled into their new life together in a bungalow on NE side of Grand Rapids - in the Houseman and Spencer area. They joined the East Leonard CRC and began looking to the future.

Jack was able to return to General Motors, where he would remain for the rest of his working career. He stepped up the ranks from electrician to supervisor, general supervisor and eventually became the facilities engineer at 36th Street Plant. He knew every nook and cranny of the place. Jack refused to use the scooters, as he preferred to walk. He ultimately walked several miles every day.

The couple celebrated the birth of four children together; Cherie, James, Cindy, and Carol kept their parents on their toes. The family moved to 817 Pine Street NW and stayed there for many years. They also joined the Alpine CRC.

As a young family, they created many memories. They enjoyed lots of camping trips during which they might hike and fish. The family also gathered around a warm campfire to sing campfire songs and listen to Jack tell stories. Jack loved to go boating. His favorite boat was his Slickcraft, which he used to pull the kids when they went water skiing. This boat also allowed him the opportunity to go fishing for salmon in Lake Michigan.

As a father, Jack was always gentle and warm. He loved with hugs and ruled with a sense of humor. He showed his children the value of hard work and the ambition to see a job through to the end.

With his handy and craftsman talents, Jack helped build their next home on Springbrook Dr. NW and later, in 1980, a cottage near Stony Lake overlooking Lake Michigan. The cottage witnessed many beautiful gatherings of loved ones, especially during the summer. In 1989, this special place became where Jack and Joan lived permanently. They cherished the magnificence of the changing seasons until the harsh winters became too much. In 2003, they sold the cottage in favor of something closer to family. This move took them to the west side of Grand Rapids. Their closer location made everyone happy, as it brought the family together. Keeping their faith a priority, they became members of LaGrave Ave CRC and looked forward to the beautiful music there each weekend.

Jack's life had many highlights. When he lived up north, he was involved with Habitat for Humanity and worked on many trips with the CRC and the Disaster Relief Team. Jack and Joan always enjoyed car trips, both long and short. He also enjoyed hiking. Once, he and his son, Jim, embarked on a Mt. Ranier hiking adventure. He also recently visited, with Jim, the Space Center in Florida.

When he was comfortable in his daily routines, he had several interests. He was an avid reader, so he was always looking for a new book to trade. You could find him woodworking, making model boats or cars, and trying to learn something new. He liked to grill, but he was just as satisfied with a peanut butter sandwich and bowl of tomato soup. Salty snacks called to his taste buds, and he savored beer nuts. Wednesday mornings provided his favorite social occasion at Pops for his coffee group. However, Sunday was Jack's favorite day of the week.

Jack's wife Joan notes that in retirement he would have daily devotions and would always include prayers for his children and grandchildren.

In his 87 years, Jack lived a full life. In the last five years, he faced the challenges of neuropathy, which limited his mobility significantly. Within the last six months, his heart continued to cause him problems. Sadly, he died unexpectedly on November 10, 2019. We will hold tight to the memories of his welcoming smile and kind ways. We will never forget his generosity and gracious spirit.

Leonard "Jack" Elzinga age 87, of Grand Rapids, went to meet his Savior on November 10, 2019. Jack is survived by Joan, his wife of nearly 65 years; children, Cherie (Dr. Tim) Duthler, Jim (Jane) Elzinga, Cindy (Dr. John) Esch and Carol (Dr. Matt) DeWys; grandchildren, Tim (Heather) Duthler, Chris (Kristen) Duthler, Rachel Duthler, Dr. Sarah Elzinga, Aaron (Katie) Elzinga, Hannah (Yuslandy) Lopez, Eric Esch, Ryan (Megan) Esch, Stephen Esch, Lisa Esch, Luke DeWys, Kierslynn DeWys, and Cecilia DeWys; and great-grandchildren, Elyse, Drew and Bennett Duthler, Jack Elzinga, Malachi and Abigail Lopez, Mia, Kade and Josie Elzinga, and Grace Esch. Also surviving are his sister, Marcia (John) Waldmiller; sisters-in-law, Murial (Fritz) Kolk and Judy (Jim) Townley; brothers-in-law, Ben (Sharon) Van Houten and Dave Walters; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his sister-in-law, Janet Walters. The funeral service will take place at 11 AM on Friday, November 15, 2019 at his church, LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church, 107 LaGrave Ave SE. His family will receive visitors from 6-8 PM on Thursday at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW and on Friday for one hour prior to the service at the church. Contributions in his memory may be made to West Side Christian School Foundation. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read Jack's lifestory, submit a favorite memory, photo, or to sign the guestbook online.