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.
East Leonard Christian Reformed Church
1027 Leonard St NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Ruth Elaine Dykema was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and friend to many. A faithful person, there wasn’t anything that Ruth wouldn’t do for someone in need. She lived her life fully and treasured her close relationships with her family. Nurturing and Christ-centered, Ruth leaves behind many wonderful memories for her loved ones to cherish forever.
Reflecting on the 1920s, it was a period of time with a distinctive cultural edge aptly giving the decade the name of the Roaring Twenties. By 1929, the industry was booming until the market crashed that fateful October. David and Effie (Bosma) DeRuiter, immigrants from the Netherlands, welcomed home their newborn daughter, Ruth Elaine on December 13th, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Born the youngest of five children, Ruth’s life began during a tumultuous time in our nation’s history.
Growing up at 22 Dennis Avenue NE, Ruth lived a typical childhood of the times. Her father was a furniture maker at Widdicomb Furniture Company, a popular trade of the region. Her mother was a remarkable seamstress and homemaker. As a family they shared many childhood memories at the local Ramona Amusement park and traveling to Grant to visit relatives on special holidays. Ruth was blessed to be an aunt by the tender age of twelve, allowing her to babysit for her nieces and nephews. Ruth was a good student at Baldwin Street Christian School who thrived on learning by memorization including reciting poems by heart, a gift that lasted her a lifetime! Raised with a strong foundation, the family were also active members in their home church, Dennis Avenue Christian Reformed.
Sadly, her father died when she was a young adolescent leaving each member of the family to step into many roles and responsibilities around the household. Ruth shared the same first and middle name as well as the same last name initial with two of her closest friends in school, earning them the nickname the “RED” girls. They shared the same school, church, and neighborhood and remained friends long after they graduated with the Class of 1947 from Grand Rapids Central High School.
Ruth married the love of her life, Clarence J. Fonger, on June 22, 1950 at the Klise Chapel of East Congregational Church in Grand Rapids. Originally meeting one another during their Kindergarten year, it wasn’t until after graduation that they were reunited and hit it off right from the start. Although the weather was unbearably hot and humid in New York City, they made the most of their honeymoon there taking in the popular sights and sharing in the joy of their wedded bliss. Shortly after their return, Clarence was drafted into the military to serve in the Korean War for two years. They moved in with his mother for a short while and then moved to an apartment on Fuller Ave. where they started their family.
Clarence finished his studies at Davenport University and began a successful career as a self employed lumber salesman. Later, they moved to their own home at 1147 Bates St. where they raised four wonderful children; David, Terri, Cheryl, and Jim. By 1963 they settled in nearby Forest Hills in the family home at 3349 Chevy Chase Dr. NE. As a family they loved to travel and camp. They made their fondest memories in area state parks as well as traveling on road trips pulling their camper to Niagara Falls, Cedar Point, the Smoky mountains, and Florida.
Ruth savored her years as a homemaker. As a mother, she was laid back and not a disciplinarian, she left that role to Clarence. Once she attempted a temporary position as seasonal help at Christmastime, but she and Clarence admitted that he didn’t have nearly the skills it required to maintain the children and keep the home in order. She never sought work from then on yet gave selflessly of her time to her church over the years. Her work with the church led her to become a Deaconess and a Calvinette Leader. Later she was honored to become a Bible Study Fellowship Leader in the Grand Rapids Public Schools.
Sadly, Clarence passed away from a heart attack in 1991 leaving her a widow. She leaned on her family as well as her church family and many special friends to see her through this difficult time. Luckily for her just a few short years later she met, Charles “Chuck” Dykema, through a mutual friend. He was a recent widower and the two of them seemed to be a perfect match for one another. Joining in marriage just a few months later, they shared a love of traveling over their twenty-one years together. They toured Hawaii, Australia, as well as many European countries including England, Turkey, and the Netherlands. Chuck was handy and would help with the building and Ruth would prepare food for the workers during their volunteering with disaster relief trips through their church. Chuck referred to her as his, Pretty Lady, a term of endearment that Ruth was happily accustomed to over the years.
Blessed with a compassionate heart, she was never known to hold a grudge or say an unkind word about anyone. Ruth modeled an extraordinary life of faithful service. May her loved ones never doubt the unconditional love she held for each and every one of them and may the special memories they shared warm their hearts for generations to come.
Ruth Elaine Dykema, age 89 of Grand Rapids, MI, went to be with her Lord and Savior while in the company of her husband and in the comfort of her home on Tuesday, June 13, 2019. She was born in 1929 to David and Effie DeRuiter in Grand Rapids, MI. Along with her parents, she is preceded in death by her first husband Clarence John Fongers who died in 1991, her Grandson Andy Talsma and Stepson Edwin Dykema. Ruth is survived by her second husband of 21 years, Charles “Chuck” Dykema, her children; David and Barbara Fongers, Terri and Tim VanEerden, Cheryl Vaughn Talmsa and Jim and Anita Fongers; stepchildren; Carl Dykema, Marcia and Kevin Meyer, David and Sue Dykema, Randy and Sally Dykema, Don Dykema, Karen and Bill Roest and Larry and Ladda Dykema; brother, Donald DeRuiter and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be held on Monday, June 17, at 11 AM at East Leonard Christian Reformed Church, (1027 Leonard St. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503), with Pastor, Zachary J. Olson, officiating. Friends may meet with the family on Sunday, June 16, 2019, from 3-5 PM at the Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes – Van Strien, Creston Chapel, (1833 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505). Ruth will be laid to rest next to Clarence in Fairplains Cemetery. For those who wish, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to East Leonard Christian Reformed Church. Please visit Ruth’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you may share a memory with her family or sign on online guest book.