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Life Story / Obituary
Rich Locke was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He leaves behind a rich legacy of accepting all people with compassion. His warm personality, genuine friendship, and loving ways will be deeply cherished by all who knew and loved him.
1931 saw crippling effects on the nation’s economy. Car manufacturers were struggling and a severe drought hit the Midwest causing food to be scarce and turning some areas into dust bowls. The good news of that year was that the famous mobster, Al Capone, was convicted of tax fraud and the Empire State Building in New York was successfully completed. Leslie J. And Beatrice R. Locke were thrilled with the arrival of their newborn son, Richard, on May 20, 1931, in Muskegon, Michigan. Joining his older sisters, Barbara and Roberta, and later followed by his younger brother, Robert, his birth was a shining moment during tough economic times.
Growing up primarily in Grand Rapids, Rich had fond memories of his childhood. There was never a dull moment around the Locke household. The kids found their fair share of mischief throwing snowballs at the city buses, sliding behind cars on the unplowed roads, and visiting the local movie theater where their father worked part-time. Rich remembers riding to Muskegon to visit his grandparents in the winter in a coup with a rumble seat. He and his siblings in the rumble seat would often crawl to the floor to escape the frigid temps!
Ambitious and hardworking, Rich attended local schools. Eastern Avenue Grade School gave him a great start before later graduating with the Class of 1949 from Creston High School. Rich excelled as a track star in high school and worked at his father’s gas station and garage on Plainfield NE. Rich fondly remembers looking forward to coming home to play Cribbage with his grandfather who was staying with them in his final years. Cribbage became a family staple and has been passed down to the next generations.
After graduation, Rich’s life took a turn when he was recruited by his uncle Phil Bernard to the United States Coast Guard during the Korean Conflict. Once he completed boot camp at Alameda, California, Rich was assigned to the US Coast Guard Cutter KOINER, a destroyer escort. The ship was stationed in Seattle and made a number of patrols to Midway Island, Guam Island, Yokosuka, Japan, and Adak in the Aleutian Island chain crossing the equator on several occasions. Three years later, he was discharged on December 28, 1953, and returned to the world of work in Grand Rapids at the family garage and gas station.
By 1965, Rich wanted to try his hand at selling automobile test equipment for Snap-on Tools. When he grew tired of retail, he went to work in the maintenance department at American Laundry until January 1972. At that time, Rich was prepared to take over the family business and purchased Locke’s Service, and fulfilled his dream of becoming a Master Automobile Tech. He successfully owned and operated the garage until his retirement in May of 1996.
In addition to the countless friendships he made, the garage was also responsible for the meeting of his lovely bride, Joyce Van Der Schie. She was the daughter of one of his dad’s customers who normally sat in the backseat of the car whenever her dad was there to purchase gas at the station. One fateful day, the two of them struck up a conversation and the rest was history! They married on October 25, 1957, at the Central Christian Church. Following a two-week honeymoon to eastern Canada and the New England states, they settled into Joyce’s parent's home on Marywood N.E. They eventually saved enough resources to move to a home on Plainfield N.E. before they built their family home on Marywood N.E. Together they raised three wonderful children, Rick, Pam, and Brenda.
As a family, they built a strong foundation. Rich and Joyce shared the importance of faith as active members at Riverside Christian Reformed Church where Rich served as an Elder, Deacon and Cadet Club Leader. His children remember him as a kind and loving dad. Rich was always the Santa at Christmas for his grandchildren and would read the story "Twas the Night Before Christmas". Close-knit, they enjoyed traveling the country. They typically went out west or out east as well as to Michigan’s splendid Upper Peninsula. In their later years, Rich and Joyce bought a boat and kept it at Joyce’s sister’s home in Spring Lake. Boating became a favorite pastime. The kids grew up on the water learning to ski as well as venturing out onto Lake Michigan during the summer months. Any amount of time they shared together embedded a wonderful collection of memories that held their family together through every challenge they faced over the years.
Rich and Joyce lived a fulfilled life together. Special highlights of their boating years were taking the boat across Lake Michigan with a group of boaters as well as to the Chain of Lakes in northern Michigan. Their love of boating was the reason they eventually purchased a larger boat to moor in the Ludington area. Rich and Joyce looked forward to the annual Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven. One year they were lucky to take part in the festival activities as Coast Guard Veterans. Avid travelers, they both enjoyed touring many parts of the US as well as Germany, Russia, and the Holy Lands. Rich and Joyce modeled a beautiful marriage for their children.
Rich held many of his own special pastimes. He found pleasure in reading about history. If he did read fiction, it was always military-related. He loved cars, especially his El Camino. He was sad to part with it when he needed something larger to pull the boat. To make himself feel better, he painted the new vehicle to match the boat! A fan of vintage cars, Rich bought a 1936 Chevy with the idea of showing it at car shows. Due to their busy schedules with their own kids and eventually their grandkids, he never found the time. Instead, Rich took great pride in keeping the car in great repair and condition.
Above all else, Rich was most content any time he was surrounded by his loved ones. There is no doubt that he will be remembered as a loving, kind person with a servant's heart. May the warm memories he shared stay forever in the hearts of his loved ones and may they find great comfort in knowing they were loved beyond measure.
Richard O. Locke, age 91, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, passed away on Monday, April 3, 2023. Surviving are is his wife of 65 years, Joyce (Van Der Schie) Locke, his children: Rick and Chery Locke, Pam and Eric Herald, Brenda and Dave Bosch, his grandchildren David and Erica Locke, Amanda and Jason Hilbelink, Joshua (Josh) and Alexis Locke, Natalie Locke, Amber Herald, Alexander (Alex) Herald, Benjamin (Ben) Bosch and fiancé Caddy Hobbs, Aaron and Sara Bosch, Nicholas (Nick) Bosch, his great-grandchildren: Ella, Lincoln and Noelle Locke, Wesley, Charlotte and Everett Hilbelink and Dakoda Locke, his sister Roberta (DeRoos) Brockway, his sister-in-law Jeanette Locke, his brother-in-law Richard Hazel, sister-in-law Thelma Van Der Schie and many nieces and nephews.
Richard was a long-time and active member of Riverside Christian Reformed Church and an automobile mechanic operating his own successful automobile repair business, Locke’s service on Plainfield Ave. N.E. and he proudly served in the United States Coast Guard during the Korean Conflict. A service to celebrate his life will be held on Monday, April 10, 2023, at 11 AM at Riverside Christian Reformed Church, 602 Comstock Blvd. N.E. with Rev. Benjamin Browneye officiating. The interment will be in Fairplains Cemetery. Relatives and friends are invited to visit with the family Sunday, April 9, 2023, from 5 to 8 P.M. at the Van Strien - Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield N.E. Grand Rapids, and again on Monday at the church from 10 AM until the time of the service. Please consider making a memorial contribution in Richard’s memory to Faith Hospice, 2100 Raybrook Dr. S.E. Suite 100 Grand Rapids, MI 49546. To share a memory or condolence please visit www.heritagelifestory.com