Saturday, April 27, 2019
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM EDT
West Leonard Christian Reformed Church
1053 Leonard Sty. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Life Story / Obituary
Marty Lettinga was truly part of the “baby boom” generation. He was born into the lives of Robert and Dorothy Lettinga after Bob finished his tour with the US Navy during World War II, and Bob and Dorothy settled into a little apartment on Wealthy Street with their baby son to begin a family life. The family, however, soon grew to include three girls – Patsy, Sally and Debra – and the Lettinga family eventually moved to Ellsmere Street. Marty and his sisters were given the privilege of attending Creston Christian School and Grand Rapids Christian High, from which Marty graduated in 1965. Marty loved his sisters dearly, but he did recall being quite a tease.
During his teen years, a series of physical problems with his hip led to several surgeries which resulted with his left leg being smaller and shorter than the right. Marty faced this disability with the strength and determination of a teenaged boy, but it also was a source of pain and discouragement and sometimes fostered a poor self image— something he struggled with throughout his life.
Although having an impressively high IQ, Marty’s career at Calvin College lasted just one year. By his own admission, he spent most of his time in the Calvin coffee shop playing cards rather than hitting the books. And so he worked a variety of jobs, including factory work, but his work ethic and personal diligence were evident in every job he did, no matter what that entailed.
His love of electronics eventually brought him to Bursma Radio Supply, first as a stock coordinator and truck driver and then as an inside sales person. It was at Bursma that he met Susan (Schut) Nielsen, and they were married in a small ceremony at Riverside Church on June 2, 1979. The house at 911 Courtney then became their home for the next 40 years. When they married, Sue became an instant mom, as Marty was raising his two children – Melanie and Rob – from a previous marriage. Added to this family were Amanda in 1982 and Micah in 1985. Because Sue worked a lot of evenings, Marty came home from work most days to shoulder the responsibility of the needs of four children. He wanted the kids to have a swing set in the back yard, but after looking at swing sets in the stores and how flimsy the construction was, he made one for them himself out of sturdy wood and cemented it firmly in the ground. He then went about fashioning a sand box and constructing a multi-level flower bed in the front yard, where no grass ever wanted to grow. Projects always took him a while, and he could get somewhat frustrated, but when they were done, they were done right!
Marty’s keen interest in electronics and how things work exploded when personal computers came on the scene. Without Sue’s knowledge, he went to Radio Shack and purchased a PC when such a contraption was something most people did not have in their homes. Because Marty was so fascinated with this technology, he spent an enormous amount of time with this new friend, and Sue said that she would never be a “football widow,” as some women complained, but that she would be a “computer widow.” Marty did take a couple classes in computer programming at community college, because he wanted to learn more about computers, but mostly he figured things out on his own.
Because of some health issues, Marty was forced into retirement at the age of 65. But he never stopped being curious about how things worked; and his cell phone, laptop and smart TV provided him with new vistas in technology. He was particularly eager to begin learning Spanish with a new video and workbook that he had recently purchased.
Marty was not a very social person, yet he did enjoy good conversation. One friend described their conversations as “spiritual sparring.” Marty’s one very special social time for many years was Friday morning breakfast with his dear friend, Patrick Nagle.
Although he remained a life-long member of the Christian Reformed Church, many people knew Marty to be a guy who was always exploring different viewpoints on God and faith outside of the tradition in which he was raised. He and his family attended several Pentecostal churches and were involved for some time at First Assembly of God. In later years, Marty also attended Tree of Life Messianic Fellowship. It was here that he made some new friends and began studying Hebrew. Marty and Sue often read to each other snippets from books or poems, and a couple of days before he passed away, Sue read to him a few paragraphs from In This World of Wonders, in which the author explains how he embraces the faith traditions in which he was raised but also how those traditions prompted him to explore the natural, artistic and intellectual wonders of people and places worldwide.
Even though Marty often struggled with the “hows” and “whys” and “does that make any sense at all?” in the Bible and his faith life, he was thankful every day for the incredible way in which God blessed him. He liked to quote this sentence that is attributed to Albert Einstein: “Coincidences are God’s way of doing miracles anonymously.” Marty, though, recently asked Sue to buy him a notebook so that he could finally start to write down all his questions and doubts and worries. When Sue found this notebook after Marty passed away, oddly enough there wasn’t anything written in it! He loved all of his children and grandchildren deeply and prayed for them every day. His heart hurt for the poor and abused people in our world – especially the children – and his prayers and giving reflected that.
Although we have lost the earthly presence of this unique man, he is now in the place he longed for so much-- home with his heavenly Father and his Savior. There are no more questions, no more doubt, no more fears about the future. Surrounded by such glory . . . we can only imagine!
On Good Friday afternoon, Marty Lettinga, a child of God, breathed out his life on this earth and inhaled eternity to spend forever with the Lord who made that possible with the sacrifice of His life commemorated on that day. He and his wife Susan (Schut) were to celebrate their 40th anniversary in June. He joins many family members who now live joyfully in the Kingdom, including his precious daughter, Amanda Beth Gorman, who went to be with Jesus this past January. His other children are Melanie & David Vander Wal, Robert Lettinga and Micah & Rachel Lettinga, along with grandchildren Anna, Jonathan, Christian, Garrett and Grace. He was a big brother to Patsy (Bernard) Bruinsma, Debra (Timothy) Van Houten and Sally (David) Miedema; Sally also now resides in heaven. His wife Susan’s family also grieves with her, including sisters Mary (Joseph) Polonowski and Jane (George) Deremiah and brothers Paul (Jane) Schut, James (Porta) Schut and Timothy (Kathy) Schut. In this life, he loved them all! His overactive pit terrier Nova and reticent cat Mona keenly feel his absence as well. Marty was a very intelligent guy, and he loved to know how things worked. Although retired for several years, he worked most of his life as a computer tech. He also was a seeker of God’s truth and spent time studying the Bible, learning some Hebrew for a better understanding and listening to a variety of preachers from different Christian viewpoints. But mostly Marty knew he was a blood-bought, redeemed child of the Father, and he looked forward to the day when he would shed his earthly body to be welcomed home by his Lord. There will be an opportunity to visit with Marty’s family on Friday, April 26, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the upper level narthex at West Leonard Church (1053 Leonard NW). A private burial with family present will take place on Saturday morning, April 27, followed by a visitation time with family and friends at the church from 2:00 p.m. up until the time of the memorial service at 3:00 p.m. Marty prayed for destitute children and families every evening, and so in lieu of flowers, contributions to World Vision (www.worldvision.org) given in his honor are deeply appreciated. My only comfort in life and death is that I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ (The Heidelberg Catechism).
To read more about Marty’s life, to sign his guest book and to leave your own memory of him, visit his web page at www.lifestorynet.com