Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Robert Terveen

December 1, 1924 - February 11, 2021
Grand Rapids, MI



Thursday, February 18, 2021
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EST
New Community Church
2340 Dean Lake Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505


Saturday, February 20, 2021
12:00 PM EST
New Community Church
2340 Dean Lake
Grand Rapids, MI 49505


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.

Community Recovery
2340 Dean Lake Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505

Yorkshire Manor
3511 Leonard Street NW
Walker, MI 49534


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


There is no greater man than one who lives by his convictions and cherishes those entrusted to his care, and Robert (Bob) TerVeen was such a man. The foundation of his family, Bob worked hard to provide a good life for those he loved, and as their foundation, he led by way of example with faith and integrity. Bob possessed a deep, abiding faith and was a diligent prayer warrior, especially when it came to his family. He placed tremendous value in them, counting them as his greatest treasure. Having lived a full and blessed life, it was truly a privilege to share his company. Gone but never to be forgotten are the memories he leaves behind.

Bob's story began during a time of economic prosperity as industry and the need for consumer goods rose. While Gershwin and Berlin dominated the music sector, in the riverfront city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, nothing compared to the excitement experienced by Rence and Adriana (Poley) TerVeen when on December 1, 1924, they celebrated the birth of their son, Robert Douglas TerVeen.

Bob was later joined by his younger brother, Gord. His father was a builder and occasionally they moved to wherever the work was. For several summers, the family went up north, renting a home near where his father had a building project. This allowed them to see him more often and so he didn’t have to make the drive back and forth.

Bob was a good kid who was raised on the west side of Grand Rapids, which offered a young boy like him many adventures. From a young age, Bob learned the value of hard work. At the age of 14 he drove a truckload of lumber up north. As a teenager, while working alongside his father and uncle on the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, they walked across the ice bridge from the island to St. Ignace so they could get back to the mainland for church. As the story goes, Bob's watch remains buried in concrete in the porch of the Grand Hotel.

A family of faith, the TerVeens attended Broadway Christian Reformed Church where Bob grew in his Christian values and faith. He also went to church with Ruth Postma who became the love of Bob's life. Bob and Ruth had known each other for many years and while growing up they spent a lot of time together with friends at Richmond Park, swimming in the summers and ice skating during the winter. One summer day, perhaps his ninth grade year, Bob offered to bring Ruth home on his bike. The two eventually became high school sweethearts as they both attended Grand Rapids Christian High School. A one girl man, Bob always considered Ruth the one the Lord intended to be his forever helpmate and life’s companion.

Bob is a veteran of World War II. After high school, he enlisted with the U.S. Army, serving with the military police. While home on leave, he proposed to Ruth. Upon his honorable discharge, the happy couple was joined in marriage on October 23, 1946, and spent a memorable honeymoon in Washington, D.C. Due to the shortage of homes at the time, the newlyweds began their new life together living in the downstairs of a home Bob's dad owned on Davis and 12th Streets. Throughout their marriage, great times were shared gathering at family and friends' homes for steak fry’s which in time led to dinners out together.

By this time, Bob had begun working with his dad at TerVeen Builders. They built many homes in East Grand Rapids and also constructed Riverside CRC, Arcadia CRC, and New Community Church. In 1951Bob custom-designed and built a home to call their own on Union NE. Their family soon came to include three children, Bonnie, Bob, and Sue,and Bob designed and built another home for his growing family on Conger NE, where they lived for 23 years. Their family home on Conger provided a big backyard for the kids where numerous memories were made and enjoyed. He and Ruth remained in that home until they moved into their condo, the interior of which was custom-designed and finished by Bob.

As a father, Bob set high expectations for his children, but they were not any higher than the expectations of excellence he placed on himself. He taught his children to do their very best and to take pride in their work and accomplishments. The kids learned to do it right the first time, or they would have to do it over. This teaching served each of them well throughout their lives.

With his love for travel, Bob and his family took many trips. They traveled the country camping when the kids were young to such places as Williamsburg, New York, New Hampshire, Maine, Canada, and to Florida. Bob also loved history and could pack a lot of activities into a short trip. Once home, they almost needed a vacation after taking a vacation with him! His interest in history led him to be an avid reader of historical novels, as well.

In 1968, they began camping during summers at Paradise Cove in Sand Lake, where many fond memories were created through the years. These times included the beginning of many family traditions which continue today. Later in life, he and Ruth bought a motor home and often left at the end of January or February to spend their time in the warmer climates of Texas, Arizona or Florida. They eventually bought a place in Florida, and loved having their children and grandchildren visit them.

When it came to work, Bob liked the finishing work of a project best. As a master craftsman, he absolutely loved and appreciated fine woodworking.He was also a skilled architect, and over the years he custom-designed many houses for their clients. He always had sense of pride and purpose in his work. He built many treasured gifts through the years in his basement workshop, which remain prized possessions.Although Bob retired from full-time work in his 60's, he continued working part-time, often with his son, Bob, until the age of 89, and when he couldn’t physically do the work any longer, it became quite frustrating for him.

Bob valued his friendships. Well-liked and a cordial fellow, he shared the friendships of many, and many were lifelong friends from elementary school. Through his business associations and through the churches they attended, he also acquired many dear friends along the way. Family was everything to Bob. He’d often reflect and say to his beloved Ruth, “Look what we started” with a grateful, thankful heart. It brought him tremendous joy spending time with his grandkids, and many of them spent a lot of time with him, particularly at Sand Lake. He was deeply and genuinely interested in and concerned for each of them, and never ceased in his prayers for them.

An intelligent and deeply insightful, wise man, Bob had a quiet spirit, yet he could also speak his mind. At his very core, and most important to him, was his faith in his Lord and Savior. With faith as his guide, he was a faithful prayer warrior for his family during his time of devotions each night after dinner. Bob was very concerned about his children, grandchildren, and eventually his great-grandchildren, and devoted his time in prayer on their behalf. He and Ruth shared this deep faith which was the very cornerstone of their life together for 74 years. Bob was a wonderful role model. A life well lived and loved, he leaves a legacy of faith, and he will be dearly missed and lovingly remembered.

Robert D. TerVeen, age 96 of Grand Rapids, was taken home by his Lord and Savior on February 11, 2021. Bob is survived by his wife of 74 years, Ruth; their children, Bonnie (Phil) Wessels, Bob (Julie) TerVeen, and Sue (Carl) Palma; grandchildren, Scott (Rhonda) Baker, Stephanie (Tony) Wicksall, Rob (Tonja) TerVeen, Melissa (Chris) Hillary, Lindsay (Scott) Hall, Nate (Ashley) TerVeen, Carl Palma Jr. (fiancée Lindsey Hassevoort); great-grandchildren, McKena and Jack TerVeen, Elizabeth, Jenna and Emily Hillary, Tristan, Caleb, Kayden, Isabella and Peyton Hall, Braden and Ethan TerVeen, Ashton and Nevaeh Plato, Jarrett Baker, Maddie and Allen Saunders; great-great grandson, Oliver Baker; sister-in-law, Doris TerVeen; several nieces and nephews. Bob was preceded in death by his brother, Gord; son-in-law, Richard Baker; brother-in-law, Sidney Postma and sister-in-law, Gene (Postma) Wychers.

The service to remember and celebrate Bob’s life will be held on Saturday, February 20 at 12 Noon at New Community Church, 2340 Dean Lake Ave. NE. Friends are invited to visit with Bob’s family at the church on Thursday, February 18 from 5-8 PM and on Saturday from 11 AM until the service. For those who wish, memorial contributions to either Community Recovery or Yorkshire Manor are appreciated. To read more about Bob, to share a memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com.