Life Story / Obituary
Generous and loving, Robert “Bob” Louis Feringa lived a faith-centered life, rich in family and friends. A quiet man who embodied the principles of his faith, Bob embraced each day with gratitude and never hesitated to welcome a call to service. Whether providing for his family, serving his country, or volunteering his time and talents to help others, Bob freely gave all that he could in the care of others. A loving and dedicated husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle, neighbor, and friend, Bob will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by all who knew him.
The 1920s were marked by tremendous confidence, prosperity, and previously unknown comforts. The economy boomed, wages rose, and prices fell. A higher standard of living was inspired for most. With the inventions of the washing machine, vacuum cleaner, self-winding watch, bulldozer, the instant camera, drive-in restaurants, Band-Aids, and the convertible, the post-war era marked significant advancement and morale flourished throughout the land. This vibrant time grew even brighter in Byron Center, Michigan as Benjamin and Lucille (Klooster) Feringa, welcomed their son Bob to their family on August 11, 1927.
Growing up during the Depression, from the very beginning of his life, Bob learned the importance of family and community caring for one another. Families were close and depended on one another for food, clothing, shelter, and comfort. While it was a time wrought with many burdens, it was equally a time of loving generosity. Bob's father provided for the family through his work as a farmer, while his mother was a homemaker. They were hard-working, resourceful people who built their family life on the firm foundation of their faith. The family attended the Walker Christian Reformed Church and enjoyed the gifts of being a part of its fellowship. Bob was the third eldest of the nine Feringa children. He and his siblings, Raymond, Walter, Richard, Lloyd, Ted, Russell, Alice, and Evelyn, worked hard on their father's farm. Bob tended to the produce, including loading the truck to take their bounty for sale at the Leonard St. and Fulton St. markets. When he was old enough, he drove the truck to market and worked for a neighboring widow. Bob attended Kinney Elementary through the 8th grade. He always loved roller skating.
During World War II, Bob was drafted into the US Army. He and five of his brothers proudly served our country. Coupled with his deep faith, Bob's time in the service became the bedrock upon which he built the rest of his life. For those who knew him best, it was easy to see how Bob exemplified the Seven Core Army Values. He was loyal, respectful, honorable, and selfless. He lived a life of selfless service, with honor and integrity.
Bob was blessed to meet Donna Koster while attending Walker CRC. After working up the courage to ask her, he offered her a ride home, and they began dating. Soon, the happy couple was looking forward to sharing a future with one another. Joyfully, Bob, age 27 and Donna, age 23, married on May 18, 1955 at Walker CRC, surrounded by friends and family.
After honeymooning to Colorado, where his brother was stationed in the service, Bob and Donna returned to West Michigan. They rented a home on Remembrance road for the first two years of their marriage, then moved to the first home they bought on 3 Mile Road. Five years later, as their family grew, Bob and Donna built their home on Richmond St. where they would live for 55 years. The couple had six children; Douglas, Scott, Roger, Twins, Karen and Kenneth (Ken died at 11 months old), and Barbara.
Committed to his children receiving a Christian Education, Bob sent his children to Walker Christian Elementary, West Side Christian, and Christian High School. The family enjoyed many wonderful memories, including many family vacations. They made a tradition of renting a cottage each year on Michigan Lakes; Big Star, Lake Mitchell, and Wolf Lake were some of their favorites. They also made trips to Mammoth Caves, New Hampshire, the East Coast, and the St. Lawrence Seaway.
A humble man, Bob enjoyed the simple things in life, including practicing his faith, spending time with his family and friends, and working his one-acre garden. A longtime member of Remembrance Church, Bob was a faithful churchgoer. Over the course of his life, he volunteered in many capacities. He was a cadet leader for many years, and also served as head of the Grand Rapids North Cadets for a time. He served as an elder, deacon, and helped to build the Walker CRC elementary school. Bob was an unwavering source of support for his family. When his family grew to include grandkids, Bob always enjoyed their company, teaching them to play pool, and seeing them in many their school and sporting events. As a result of his careful tending, Bob's garden always produced well. His corn, pickles, tomatoes, peppers, giant pumpkins, were just some of his traditional harvests. As in his youth, he sold much of his bounty at the local market. Bob also enjoyed bowling and playing softball on several leagues.
Bob worked as a truck driver all his life and was a member of the Teamsters Local #406 for 35 years. After retiring in 1992 at age 62. Bob and Donna traveled to all 50 states and made five trips to Hawaii. They also extensively traveled outside the country. Over the years, they enjoyed many incredible adventures in many countries, including Austria, Europe, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, and Sweden.
As Bob and Donna grew older, they decided to sell their home and move to Lincoln Square Senior Living Apartments, where they made many new friends. A few years later, Bob was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Donna lovingly cared for him until his needs required professional care. Bob moved to Edison Christian Health Center, where he received loving care from a dedicated staff. During the past few months, amid the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bob's family continued to visit him, enveloping him in love until he went to be with his Lord and Savior, Sunday, May 31.
While Bob's presence will be so missed, may it afford comfort to know that he is now free of his earthly limitations. May we also find comfort in carrying his legacy forward. Whenever we greet life's joys and trial with unwavering faith, choose honor and integrity, give of our time and talents in service of others, and enjoy an adventure with our beloved, we celebrate the many ways Bob continues to live in our hearts and lives.
Robert Louis Feringa, aged 92 of Grand Rapids, went to be with his Lord on Sunday, May 31, 2020. He was preceded in death by his infant son, Kenneth Feringa. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Donna Feringa (Koster); children, Doug (Pat) Feringa, Scott (Dawn) Feringa, Roger Feringa (Nancy), Karen (Steve) VanHouten. Barbara Szymanski; 8 grandchildren, Rob, Jeremy (Kari), Vickie (Adam) Sheele, Kurt (Kara), Ryan (Lisa), Brendan, Trevor, Brad; great-grandchildren, Cooper, Wyatt, Emmy, Alex, Lucas, Easton, Evert, Brooks, Elijah, Estelle; sister, Evelyn Ruster; brother, Russell (Kathleen) Feringa; sisters-in-law, Bernice Feringa and Patricia Feringa, brother-in-law, Harold Wieland; many nieces, nephews, and friends. A private family service will be celebrated on Tuesday, June 2, at 1:00 pm at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Contributions may be made to West Side Christian School or Edison Christian Health Center. You can also livestream his funeral on his web page. To read more about Bob's life, to sign his guest book and to leave your own memory of him, visit his web page at www.heritagelifestory.com