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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Robert “Bob" Brink would say that he was one of the kindest and most generous people around. He was wise and hardworking, yet he also took the time to enjoy life along the way. Bob was happiest when surrounded by the love of his family, and he was so proud to witness his family tree blossom to include the grandchildren and great-grandchildren he adored. A longtime resident of the community he loved, he was the sort of person who never met a stranger. Deeply loved, Bob will be forever missed.
It was after the most trying days of the Great Depression were behind our nation and much of the world that Egbert and Mae L. (Karel) Brink were filled with great anticipation as they awaited the birth of their new baby as the calendar turned to ring in the New Year in 1938. Their wait was finally over when the baby boy they named Robert Earl made his arrival on January 9th, joining his two older sisters, Evelyn and Mary, in the Brink family. He was always close to his older sisters, and holidays were spent with nearby aunts, uncles, and other relatives.
In many ways Bob was a young boy of his generation and was raised on Randall Street in Coopersville. His father was a farmer and real estate broker while his mother was a homemaker. Bob loved being on the farm and learned how to do things like plow fields, grow crops, and ride horses. Throughout his life he loved horses, especially Clydesdale horses. Bob loved the barns as well as growing things in the greenhouse. As a student he attended both Marshall Elementary School and Allendale Christian Elementary School. While at Marshall he met LD Taylor, and they were to become lifelong friends. He went on to Coopersville High School. Bob was good at pole vault and was on the football team with LD and another good friend Dave Stevens. It was quite eventful for him when he was swept off the pier in Grand Haven into Lake Michigan as a teen.
As soon as he graduated from high school Bob got a job as a brick layer and promptly bought a Harley Davidson Motorcycle. His buddy, LD, did the same. The two were known to race around town on their motorcycles, often after removing the mufflers. Not to be forgotten during these years was Bob’s introduction to the young woman of his dreams. Her name was Joanne VanSuilichem, the Homecoming Queen at Union High School and they met through a mutual friend while at the beach in Grand Haven. They soon began dating, and about a year later the sweethearts were married on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1958, at Joanne’s home church of Richmond Reformed Church in Grand Rapids.
After a honeymoon at Niagara Falls, the newlyweds were eager to begin their new life together back home. They rented a small upstairs apartment from Eugene and Josephine Kozak, who owned the house on Kinney Avenue, NW, and lived in the lower level. Soon, Bob and Joanne welcomed their first child into their hearts and home, and Josephine was very helpful in teaching the young couple about parenting. After their second child was born, Bob and Joanne purchased a house of their own down the street at Kinney Ave. They remained in this house for the remainder of their life. Bob loved this house because it had a red barn behind it where he loved tinkering. He continued his lifelong work as a brick layer, which allowed Joanne to became a full-time homemaker. All who new Bob from his trade, affectionately referred to him as "Dutch". Together the couple was blessed with five children in all including Brenda, Barbara, Bill, Mary Ann, and Carol. As a family they enjoyed camping vacations in their custom homemade pop up camper trailer. Their camping adventures took them to the Porcupine Mountains, Wilderness State Park, and CranHill Ranch.
Bob was a man of many interests. His love for Harley Davidson motorcycles remained throughout his entire adult life, and over the years he had several bikes of his own. In fact, Bob and Joanne often took trips on motorcycles with friends. They also enjoyed traveling together to places like Washington State, British Columbia, Yosemite, San Francisco, Florida and Yellowstone. Their most memorable trip being to Hawaii with their dear friends, Bruce and Pat Cheadle. Bob liked woodworking and made cherished family heirlooms, a baby cradle that was passed on to his grandchildren, an end table and mangers for his children. He also enjoyed golf, tennis, bicycling, snow skiing, and running. He had run the Old Kent Riverbank Run. He loved watching western movies on television, and he was such an avid reader that the staff at the local library all knew him by name. Bob was a meat and potatoes guy, but he would often stop to buy pickled bologna and eggs while in the car with the family. He loved chocolate cake made from his mom’s recipe, and for special occasions he requested potato salad that was also using his mom’s recipe as well as baked beans! Of course nothing was better in Bob’s book than spending time with his family, and he never raised his voice no matter the circumstances.
Over the years Bob kept busy within his community. He was very active at their church, Richmond Reformed Church, as he served as both an elder and a deacon at times, and he was on the church golf league. Bob also volunteered leading horses ridden by handicapped children at an equestrian horse center in Rockford, MI. He liked going out to eat for an olive burger at Mr. Fable’s or Mr. Burger restaurants, and he also liked going to Bob Evans Restaurant. Bob always had a fishing boat and liked fishing with friends and his children, especially on Cranberry Lake. In addition to his many Harley Davidsons, Bob collected pocket watches.
With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around him, Robert Brink lived a life of purpose while holding his loved ones near. He was very wise and disciplined with his money, and his faith was evident in the way he lived his life each day. Bob’s devotion to his family was unmatched, and he was gentle, approachable, and generous in ways both great and small. Life will never be the same without him here, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
Robert E. Brink, “Bob” age 83, passed away peacefully on Wednesday December 15, 2021. He was born in Grand Rapids, MI in 1938, the son of the late Egbert and Mae Brink.
Along with his parents, he is preceded in death by his sisters Evelyn Ferwerda and Mary Klein and his great grandson Ethan Bakhuyen. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Joanne Brink [VanSuilichem] and their children, Brenda and Lance Orcutt, Barbara Daugherty, Bill Brink, Mary Ann and Mark Mulder, and Carol and Kevin Cooper; grandchildren, Robert Dise, Benjamin Dise, Jessica and Joshua Bakhuyzen, Rachael and Jason Schutter, Kelsey and Zachary Osenga. Andrew and Jessica Mulder, Ryan Mulder, Mitchell and Dayan Glass, Levi Glass and great grandchildren Parker Bakhuyzen, Ella Bakhuyzen, Avery Bakhuyzen, Brady Schutter,Jayde Schutter, and Opal Mulder.
Bob was a long time and active member of Richmond Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. Funeral services, officiated by Pastor Christopher Westerbeek, will be held Saturday, December 18, 2021 at 11:00 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, (2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504). Visitation will take place prior to the service at 10:00 AM.
Bob will be laid to rest in Rosedale Memorial Park. Memorials may be made to Richmond Reformed Church, (1814 Walker Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504).
Bob’s family would like to thank Faith Hospice of Holland Home for the compassionate care extended on Bob’s behalf. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to read Robert’s life story, submit a favorite memory, photo or to sign the guestbook online.