Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned an entire century, Sidney De Haan made a significant impact in the lives of his family and friends. He worked hard in everything he did, and he was the sort of person who was never still. With faith as a cornerstone, Sid was there to help others whenever he could. Deeply devoted to his family, he was so proud to witness his family tree blossom to include numerous branches of loved ones who brought him such great joy. Life will never be the same without Sid here, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever cherish.
It was great to be an American during the decade that we commonly recall as the Roaring Twenties. Innovation led the way to things like washing machines and refrigerators as well as cars that were mass produced on assembly lines. This was a time of great excitement in the lives of Cornelius and Hilda (Wesseling) De Haan as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Sidney on July 12, 1921, in Highland, Michigan, in Osceola County, near McBain. He was the oldest son of the De Haan clan, joining his older sister in his family that grew to include 10 younger siblings over the years. Both of his parents were Dutch immigrants who came to America to create a new life.
Raised on the family farm, Sid was a young boy of his generation. Growing up on a farm meant that he learned the value of hard work and being responsible for his fair share of the farm chores. As the prosperity of the 1920s gave way to the Great Depression of the 1930s, times were tough for countless American families. The De Haan family was no exception. He could run a team of horses, which was hard work, but his father knew he could count on Sid to get the work done. As was commonplace, his other siblings also helped with the farm. Although there was little extra time, Sid did find time to fish.
After graduating from high school, Sid knew that farm life was not for him. He then took two years of vocational farming school. Sid moved to Grand Rapids as he had some other relatives there and worked a few odd jobs before finding work with Star Watchcase Company. Also during this time Sid enlisted in the Army Air Corps and served as a quartermaster stateside in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Indiana during WWII.
Not to be forgotten during Sid’s time in Highland was his introduction to the woman with whom he would share the best years of his life. Her name was Gertrude Scholten, and they met at a social event. Even as he moved around while in the military, Sid and Gertrude stayed in touch and fell deeply in love. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together the sweethearts were married in Louisville, Kentucky. With his military duties fulfilled, Sid and Gertrude moved to Grand Rapids with their firstborn daughter, Donna. They settled into a home on Quimby Street, but after a couple of years Sid built a house on Providence Street NE, which would become his lifelong home. There, the De Haan family also became a family of five as they welcomed two sons, David and Randy, into their hearts and home.
To support his family, Sid worked hard. He spent a couple of years working at Owen Ames Kimball for a couple of years before finding longtime work as a die repairman at Reynolds Aluminum. He liked the tool and die work and the men he worked with. His experience gave him insight on how to improve things, but Sid was always frustrated when management didn’t take his suggestions. Every third year, he got a bonus 10 weeks of vacation, which afforded some longer summer vacations. Sid retired after 38 years with Reynolds.
Around home Sid was never one to be still. He loved tinkering and often made things out of aluminum. Since Gertrude never drove, he brought her to work each day and picked her up on his way home. Although he could be meticulous in some things, Sid wasn’t all that meticulous when it came to organization. When he wan’t tinkering Sid might be found reading the newspaper, working in the garden, or reading a book.
There was never anything of greater significance in Sid’s life than his family. He was the disciplinarian in the family and expected their obedience as he always had their best interests at heart. As a family they were members at Coldbrook Christian Reformed Church and then for many years at Beckwith Hills Christian Reformed Church. Sunday dinners usually consisted of sirloin steak on the grill. The De Haans enjoyed camping and made many trips to the state park on Mitchell Lake in Cadillac where they also could visit with both sides of their family. Both Sid and his wife came from very large families so they often got together with relatives. He looked forward to the De Haan family picnic each year as well as the De Haan Christmas party. In addition to camping in their trailer, Sid also looked for ways to spend time fishing.
As they grew older, Sid and Gertrude enjoyed their retirement years. They spent many years wintering in New Port Richey, Florida, for several months. They had a great group of friends there, and Sid enjoyed being a handyman for several friends in their neighborhood. They often got together to play cards with friends and also frequented flea markets. Sid liked making puzzles from metal and wood, and he loved solving them while also watching others struggle to do the same thing. One year Gertrude became quite sick while in Florida, and Sid cared for her. Upon her return, she had to move to a nursing home where she passed away about six months later in 2001.
A few years later, Sid married Carolyn Foster. They attended New Community Church, and after her death in 2015 Sid started attending Blythefield Hills Christian Reformed Church. More recently he found his church home at Seventh Reformed Church. Sid was able to remain independent, even driving when he was 99 years old. When he needed help, his sons were there, and they also stopped in several times a week. Over the past few months Sid needed more care.
All who knew Sidney De Haan would agree that he was an extraordinary man to know and love. He liked to tease and have a good time, and his zest for life was contagious to all who were near. Sid was accompanied by an unwavering faith, and second only to his faith was his beloved family. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
Mr. Sidney De Haan, age 100, of Grand Rapids, went home to be with his Lord and Savior on Sunday, November 7, 2021. He was preceded in death by his wife, Gertrude; and his daughter, Donna Harraburda. Sid is survived by his sons and daughters-in-law David & Carol De Haan and Randy & Linda De Haan; grandchildren Craig (Kim) McCarthy, Kimberly (John) Holiday, Jason (Sheri), Aaron (Kori), Chase and Skylar De Haan; great-grandchildren Seth, Jessica, Joshua, Zachary, Cameron, Natalie, Connor, Collin, Caden, Kayla, Morgan; great-great-grandchildren Rowan and Milo; his brothers Neil (Marilyn) De Haan, and Peter De Haan; sisters Jeanette Dick and Esther Jourden; and numerous nieces and nephews.
His funeral service will be held on Friday, November 12 at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE where friends may visit with his family beginning at 10 AM. To read more about Sid’s life, to share a memory or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com