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.
Eldermusic Ministries Inc.
2417 Greenings Ave. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
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Life Story / Obituary
A beloved musician once sang:
“Just another sinner, saved by Grace
Bathed in His mercy, fixed on His face
My life is just a shadow, my time has begun
When my Savior says to me, “Welcome home, my son”
That musician made his debut on the grand stage of life on October 29th, 1954, when Henry and Leora (Hineline) DeRuiter were blessed with their third child. Marc DeRuiter was born in Grand Rapids, where he joined his sister Dorothy and brother Gerald (Jerry) in the family home.
At the age of seven, Marc and family moved to a hobby farm in Dutton, where they raised many animals and kept a large garden. Shortly after the move, Marc’s younger sister, Ruth Anne (Ruth), was born. Life on the farm was fun for the kids – both work and play – but nothing would rival the day that father purchased a pony named Pixie.
Marc attended school first at East Paris Christian Elementary, then Millbrook Christian Schools, and graduated from Grand Rapids South Christian High School in 1972. More than just math and geography classes, Marc’s Christian education helped set the foundation for what would become a life-long passion for serving others.
The day after graduating high school, Marc enlisted in the Navy with the help of his father’s signatures, as he was still just seventeen years old at the time. Three years in the Navy sent Marc to faraway places working on aviation electronics. He toured Asia on an aircraft carrier, the USS Ranger, and perhaps found his love for bold, spicy food during these travels. Marc was discharged from the Navy in 1975 but kept in touch with many of the good friends he made along the way.
A bit of divine luck struck shortly after Marc returned home from his time in the service. His friend, Scott, had a sister who was attending nearby Calvin College. Marc and Scott would visit on Fridays, when boys could socialize in the girls’ dormitory, and it was on one of these casual visits that Marc met Marianne “Micki” Boone. Marc and Micki became friends over a number of visits and began dating after a year or so.
The chemistry between Marc and Micki was obvious. He asked her to dinner with his family on Christmas Eve of ’77, and despite a bad stomach flu, Micki agreed. An evening that undoubtedly began with discomfort ended in joy; Marc proposed to Micki in front of his family that night. The couple were married in August of 1978 at Bethany Reformed Church.
A near month-long honeymoon along the West Coast in their Plymouth Valiant took Marc and Micki from Washington state to San Francisco, where they met up with some of his Navy friends. Upon returning to Michigan, they lived in several apartments before purchasing a one-bedroom home on Arianna St. in Grand Rapids. The newlyweds quickly grew from a family of two to a family of three, as daughter AnnaLee was born in 1980. Over the next decade-and-a-half, Marc and Micki welcomed three more daughters, Jean Renae (’83), Caralyn Rose (’86), and Abby Mae (’88), as well as a son, Matthew John in 1994, into the family.
The DeRuiters moved around the Grand Rapids area several times throughout the years before building a home on Greenings Avenue. Marc’s favorite place to be was home, surrounded by those whom he loved. His children tell stories of Tuesday nights spent making Chef Boyardee’s famous boxed pizza, and waiting for Marc to return home with a box of candy to share after cashing his weekly paycheck on Wednesdays.
Summers were spent camping making memories as a family at various state parks: hiking in the woods and hunting for turtles near water, playing for hours on the sandy beaches and campfires every evening. What began with tents progressed to a camper and then a full trailer, but the highlight of these annual adventures was simply being together.
Marc worked for Laser Alignment for 23 years, as well as with other electronics manufacturers, and traveled the world to share his expertise. He also wrote articles in electronics trade journals, was a guest speaker at electronics conferences, and even conducted soldering training seminars across the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Every time he would return from long business trip, Marc’s suitcase would be stuffed with gifts for Micki and the kids.
After a career in electronics, Marc began what many might consider a more important and passionate second career in music ministry. He had taught himself to play guitar at the age of fifteen and had serenaded his family and various church groups for years, but went back to school and received his bachelor’s in Ministry Leadership from Cornerstone University in 2010. Shortly thereafter, Marc founded Eldermusic Ministries, a non-profit organization with a goal to “restore joy and hope through live music.” The volunteers play live music with interactive sing-alongs for residents of Memory Care units and for other people living with special needs. In 2019, Eldermusic Ministries was recognized as Non-Profit of the Year in the WGVU/PBS “I Have Made A Difference” awards. Marc also founded the Grand Rapids Chapter of Guitars 4 Vets, a program of volunteers that teach guitar lessons to Veterans and provides them with a new guitar for free when they graduate. Marc was also honored by the Senior Neighbors 16 over 60 Awards Gala in 2019 for his community involvement.
Marc’s music touched a tremendous number of lives through the DeColores Ministries, where he was a musical leader for decades. He also played with several bands: Mere Image with Scott Alexander, where one would play left-handed guitar while the other played right-handed; and 3 Legged Stool, which could be heard at outdoor festivals and events throughout the summers. Bluegrass, Classic Rock, and Gospel music were some of Marc’s favorite types of music, but anything that put a guitar in his hands was a welcomed tune.
Marc’s appetite for life extended beyond music—he became quite the cook after Micki went to work on second shift. His culinary talents were also put on display during several mission trips with the church, where Marc was often put in charge of cooking duties. He found great joy in feeding others; a few favorites out of Marc’s kitchen include homemade guacamole, smoked meats, and his world-famous no-bean chili. Marc didn’t mind treating himself to a cold beverage, either, as he often claimed that there was “no feeling like an ice-cold beer in your belly.”
For as much as he enjoyed being a father, Marc relished his role as Grandpa to his thirteen grandchildren: Alex, Caitlyn, Chandler, Mariah, Madilyn, Darcy, Daisy Mae, Klarc, Dahlia, Henry, Finley, Scarlett, and Fletcher. He took special pride in sharing his music with each successive grandchild and could always be found playing with the babies.
Marc DeRuiter’s legacy will long outlive his time here on Earth, as his passion and kindness touched thousands of lives. He served his country, his family, his community, and the Lord with unrivaled enthusiasm. On April 17th, 2023, Marc completed his service and was welcomed into Heaven—with a guitar in his hand and a song in his heart.
Please visit Marc's YouTube's channel at https://www.youtube.com/@marcderuiter816
"When I Die" by Marc DeRuiter –
When I’ve gone home to Heaven they’ll print some words about me
They’ll talk about all the things in my life I’ve done
But I have no other claim except that I am saved
By the blood of the Lamb, God’s own son
Just another sinner, saved by Grace
Bathed in his mercy, fixed on his face
My life is just a shadow, my time has just begun
When My Savior says to me, “Welcome home, my son.”
I want to play with David on his harp of gold
I want to sing about the Lord with all the hymns of old
I want to see my Mom and Dad and all who’ve passed before
I want to join the praise band on that distant shore
Don’t talk about me and all the things I’ve done
Well maybe just a little, maybe just for fun
But you really need to talk about the grace I’ve been shown
My only hope is Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone