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Humane Society Of West Michigan
3077 Wilson Dr NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Life Story / Obituary
Generous, warm, and welcoming, Philip Michael Slagboom lived a life rich in family and friends. A man who never met a stranger, Phil greeted every person as a friend and each moment as a gift. With a unique sense of humor and contented ease, Phil found deep satisfaction in helping others. He was a fun-loving and devoted husband, brother, and uncle whose beautiful smile twinkle in his eye afforded deep comfort and delight. Phil was a gift and powerful role model to all who were blessed to know him. He will long be remembered and ever so missed.
1945 was a year marked by much celebration and hope. With the victorious end of World War II, the focus was on restoration and family. Nowhere was their greater promise for the future than in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, as Gerard and Dora (Van Beers) Slagboom, Sr. welcomed their son Phil into their family on April 11.
Growing up in Amsterdam, Phil was the youngest of the four Slagboom children. While his father delivered fuel coal, his mother tended the home. His sister was six years older and enjoyed having a little brother to take care of. His two brothers were older than her. The kids played in the streets growing up; street soccer was the game of choice. The family participated in Zeeburgia, which was a local community club that organized events for families. Once the boys were old enough, they began helping their father deliver coal house to house. It was very difficult work, often requiring trudging four stories carrying handbags loaded with fuel. Phil grew up in the legacy of his family's willingness to hide a Jewish family from the Nazi police during the war. Their generosity and sacrifice proved a powerful influence for the rest of his life.
In time, Phil's older brother, Gerard Jr., immigrated to the United States. In 1966, at the age of 21, Phil chose to visit his brother for vacation and never left. His mother often said, "It was the longest vacation ever taken." Eager to learn English and American culture, Phil enrolled in community college. While adjusting to his new home, he played soccer at Hope College and in city leagues. He began working as a draftsman at Exxel Engineering and was encouraged by his employer to pursue his career, assuring him a job should he choose to return once he completed his schooling at Hope College.
A year after moving to West Michigan, Phil had the good fortune of being set up on a blind date with the love of his life, Linda Dronkers. Their aunts were friends and recognized a good match. Their first date was a double with Gerard and his wife. The couples went out to dinner, then to an anniversary party for friends. By the end of the date, the sparks were in full flame, and their courtship officially began. It didn't take long for Phil and Linda to begin planning a future together. While planning for marriage, Phil was actually in the draft lottery for Vietnam. Though he wasn't a citizen, he was officially called to the draft office in Lansing. Fortunately, he was given a deferment.
1972 was a special year; Phil graduated from Hope College in the spring, became a U.S. citizen in the summer, and married his beloved on September 23, at Richmond Reformed Church. Despite the cloudy day and bit of rain in the evening, the happy couple enjoyed a lovely wedding followed by a sit-down dinner reception at the brand new Veterans Hall.
After returning from their honeymoon trip to Niagara Falls, the couple made their first home together in Alpine Estates on Elderwood Drive NW. Phil began his career at CW Textron selling camshafts and then Muskegon Piston Ring before taking a job as a Technical Sales Representative for Houghton International, where he worked for 25 years. Phil was a natural-born salesman whose handshake, smile, and twinkling eyes reflected the unwavering integrity of a genuine people person. Phil seemed to know people everywhere he went. Some folks were longtime friends and people he knew through his extensive contacts. Others he greeted, engaged, and connected as though he'd known them forever.
As a couple, Phil and Linda opened their home to a lot of entertainment over the years. They were terrific hosts for both business and pleasure. Phil traveled quite a bit for work, and the couple enjoyed trips to Florida, but his real joy was being at home, especially when it was filled with people. Though Phil and Linda had no children of their own, they were honored to share their love with their nieces and nephews. Phil eagerly welcomed any moment to babysit, attend special events, and take the kids for ice cream in his '77 VW Beetle. He even drove the Beetle in the 4th of July parade while his favorite kids rode their bicycles. Loving, supportive, and generous, Phil was a beloved uncle whose legendary wink always reflected his love and playful spirit.
Without a doubt, Phil's faith in people, delight in the moment, generosity, and humor made life's joys deeper and its hardships less daunting. And, as we grieve the loss of the good man we were so blessed to know, may we find comfort in the honor of carrying his legacy forward. With each moment we greet a stranger as a friend, lend our talents in service of others, reflect goodness, and inspire a smile, we celebrate the many ways Phil gifted our lives. In this way, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired each of us.
Philip M. Slagboom, age 76, passed away peacefully at his home in Ada, MI, on August 5, 2021. His wife of 49 years survives as well as his siblings, Theo (Tonny) Slagboom and Clara Slagboom, both of Amsterdam, The Netherlands; sister-in-law, Renny Slagboom of Grand Rapids; brother-in-law, Walt Dronkers of Kentwood; several nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews. He was also preceded in death by his brother, Gerard Slagboom, Jr. A funeral service will be held on Tuesday, August 10, 2021, at 12 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Friends may visit with family Monday from 6-8 PM and Tuesday beginning at 11 AM. Interment will be in Rosedale Memorial Park. Memorials may be made to Faith Hospice and Humane Society of West Michigan. Please visit Phil's memory page to read more of his life story, leave a memory or condolence at www.heritagelifestory.com