Friday, August 6, 2021
11:00 AM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Visitation from 10AM until the start of the service. And again after the service during provided luncheon
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.
Wounded Wariors Project
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Richard Wayne DeBaar was an ambitious and resilient man who tackled life head-on no matter what curveballs life threw his way. His whole life he took pride in everything he did—building model cars or trucks, working as the operations manager for Henry Fox Sales, woodworking, or teaching himself to write left-handed after he suffered a stroke. Richard poured his heart into fatherhood and always put his two girls above himself. Even though Richard could sometimes be stubborn, he was undoubtedly constantly a caring, compassionate, social person who will be missed and cherished by all.
Often referred to as America’s Golden Age, the 1950s were a time for growth. Recovered from World War II, the economy was prospering, and individuals were rapidly moving to the suburbs. Population size was exploding, and this generation of children born in the 50s were called Baby Boomers. Many working Americans were making a good wage and therefore could afford luxuries such as washing machines and TVs. February 21, 1951, was a date that would forever be cherished by George Wayne DeBaar & Joan (Tolsma) DeBaar as they had just welcomed their first child, Richard Wayne DeBaar. Born the oldest of three, Richard was very protective of his little sister, Gayle, and his little brother, Tim. Richard and Gayle were very close in age, and people often thought they were twins. As a youngster, Richard loved to play with his Lionel train set and build model cars. Once, he entered a competition for model cars at Montgomery Wards. He took 2nd place, but only because he made up his own custom paint job. Born and raised in the Grand Rapids area, Richard attended the Godfrey Lee schools throughout his education, and graduated from Lee High School with the class of 1969. He was a hard worker from an early age and got his first job when he was thirteen trimming Christmas trees. An avid sports fan, Richard played football (his favorite sport) in high school. Everyone gravitated towards Richard; he was a popular guy who always had lots of friends.
After high school, Richard attended Grand Valley State University while also working at Holland American Wafter with his uncle. He loved cars and his first one was a 64’ Pontiac Cataline convertible that he cruised along the strip on Market Avenue. At work, Richard noticed a fellow co-worker, Sadie Boosamra. Not one for giving up easily, Richard persistently pursued her for a date; finally, she agreed to go out with him. Sadie was 20 and Richard was 18 when they began seeing each other and dated for a few months before getting married on January 31, 1970. The pair had two daughters together, Julie and Lori. In 1973 Richard and Sadie purchased a home in Wyoming, MI for $13,000 and only just sold the home this year. After 32 years of marriage, Richard and Sadie decided to divorce, but remained very close and neither got re-married.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Richard began working at Henry Fox Sales in the warehouse as a truck driver. Eventually, he made his way up to operations manager. Richard loved to work and loved the people he worked with. One might even call him a “workaholic”, but he was always one to give 110% on the job. Once a year Richard took a retreat with all the company’s bosses to a remote cabin. Richard’s hard work was evident in his spare time as well. On the weekends he liked to do projects around the house. Always very handy, he learned to run wires for electricity and took pride in his landscaping. He would often say, “if you ever need anything, ask me, I have everything!”
In his free time Richard enjoyed playing poker (he was a card shark), golfing, riding his Yamaha motorcycle, or sitting in his lawn chair reading a book and sometimes catching a nap. On Saturday mornings he liked to turn up the radio (listening to Bob Seger or the Beattles) and wash the cars or cut the grass while he waited for college sports to air on TV. Saturday nights the family played cards together and ate pizza. Sundays were spent golfing with his father. Richard’s love for sports followed him throughout his life; he enjoyed watching the Detroit Lions, the Red Wings, and golf. No sports teams, however, could ever compare to Richard’s beloved University of Michigan Wolverines. Some of Richard’s favorite times with his family was when everyone would get together for the holidays and have ham and turkey. All other times, his favorite food was pizza from Palos and a Pepsi to drink. An avid history buff, Richard enjoyed learning all he could about World War II. Later in life, he took pride in decorating his house with his favorite Menards Christmas decorations and always put up a cute fake tree.
Unfortunately, around the age of 48 Richard’s health began to go downhill. He had a triple bypass and then at the age of 50, suffered a massive stroke that paralyzed his right side. The stroke forced him into retirement, but that didn’t stop Richard from working at something. Since he was used to being physically strong, he transferred that strength into mental toughness. Richard spent the next five years trying to build his health back. Although he remained at home, he was no longer able to drive. Due to his strong character, he refused to give up on life. Teaching himself how to write with his left hand was one task that Richard tackled, and if he needed something from the store, he put on a backpack and walked down the street with his cane. Now that he could use his left hand more efficiently, Richard got back into building model trucks. Even with his paralysis, he could paint and put together the smallest of parts. Some other hobbies that Richard took up during this time were online auctions, woodworking, and building/regripping golf clubs for people.
Richard went through life with an enviable work ethic and an unyielding love for his family. He cherished his two girls more than anything and made sure that they both knew he would always be there for them. Richard’s life was filled with hobbies, experiences, and passions to ensure that he kept busy. There is no doubt that he woke up each day and made the most of all his waking hours. University of Michigan’s head football coach, Jim Harbaugh, once said, “attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.” Richard made sure that everyday of his life was met with enthusiasm and hard work no matter what the circumstance.
DEBAAR – Mr. Richard Wayne DeBaar age 70, of Grand Rapids, passed away on Aug 3, 2021. He was preceded in death by his father, Wayne DeBaar. Richard is survived by his daughters, Julie (John) Thompson and Lori DeBaar; granddaughter, Sierra Westbrook; mother, Joan Walstrom; sister, Gayle (Ed) Wiers; brother, Tim (Sue) DeBaar; and nieces and nephews. Richard was a 1969 graduate of Lee High School and a longtime employee of Henry Fox Sales. A Memorial Service will take place at 11 AM on Friday August 6, 2021 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. His family will receive visitors at 10 AM until the start of the service and again after during the provided luncheon. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to Wounded Warriors Project or Mel Trotter Ministries. To read Richard’s life story, submit a memory, photo or to sign the guestbook, please visit www.heritagelifestory.com