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.
Seventh Ref Church Radio Fund
950 Leonard St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Life Story / Obituary
A selfless man who placed the needs of others before his own, Steve Stellema was a well loved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and dear friend. It brought Steve great joy to be there for his family and good friends with a helping hand or a word of encouragement. In the hearts of those who knew Steve best, he was a man of strong faith and character who was easygoing and fun-loving all rolled into one. Deeply missed, life without Steve will never be the same yet his loving memory remains.
Steve’s story began at a time when families began thriving and experiencing the American dream. The end of the Korean War, more and more families were moving their lifestyles to the suburbs all while enjoying an age of innocence. By 1953, local unions gathered strength in numbers in the work force while many advances were made in the field of medicine. It was an exciting year altogether, especially in the lives of Nicholas and Murial (Ensink) Stellema when on January 17, 1953 they welcomed the birth of their son, Stephen Craig Stellema into their arms.
The Stellema family made their home on Leonard Street NE near the East Beltline where Steve grew up and where Steve was joined by his younger brother of several years, Mark. Steve’s dad worked long hours as a heavy equipment mechanic for the County Road Commission while his mother also put in many hours as a busy homemaker and at Steketee’s Department Store. Steve and his brother had a lot of free time on their hands. Steve liked being outdoors catching frogs, playing in their big back yard and with neighborhood friends. He especially looked forward to riding his bike to the Alger Heights area every Saturday to spend time with his grandmother. Having attended the local schools, he enjoyed the friendships of many.
Steve had his share of close calls during his youth. One time, while out on their balcony he leaned against the railing and it broke. Although he fell quite a distance, he came walking in the back door unscathed. On another occasion, he and his friends were working on their tree house next door even though they weren’t supposed to be. Steve fell out, landing on a board with nails. Miraculously, he missed the nails but got the wind knocked out of him pretty good. His friend’s mother came out to help him, and then proceeded to call his mother. Like most young men, Steve liked cars and he liked driving fast. His 1963 Impala was his favorite, although he wrecked the transmission racing. His brother, Mark even totaled their dad’s brand new Oldsmobile!
After graduating from Central High School in 1971, Steve landed a few jobs to make ends meet. He was married for a time, and from that union he was blessed with two fine sons, Michael and Gary. Some time following his divorce, Steve took a job at Grand Rapids Printing Inc. which was right up his ally. A pretty young woman by the name of Beth Keulen stopped in often for supplies and printing, and noticed Steve. Often times, Steve met up with friends at the Village Inn Pancake Restaurant on Alpine Avenue and the two of them would see each other there. While Steve was dating someone else at the time, after some time passed he called Beth. She let him know he needed to straighten up his life before she would date him, and he did!
Steve and Beth began dating and soon found themselves deeply in love. They were blessed in marriage in 1978 at a cousin’s house in nearby Allendale. After a brief weekend honeymoon, they settled into their first home together, an apartment on Jeannette NW for a year. Eventually they purchased a house on White Street NW, then Glenhaven NW before finally making their house on Pine Street NW the place they truly called home. In addition to Steve’s two sons from his earlier marriage and Becky from Beth's, he and Beth also shared the love of having children together when they welcomed the births of Craig, Tom, and Kerri.
As a family, they liked spending lazy Saturday afternoons at the beach, most often at Grand Haven or Holland’s Kirk Park. Always one who enjoyed the outdoors, Steve relished being outdoors and he loved to swim. Family vacations were always enjoyed taking in all the area had to offer on Long Lake near Traverse City. A tradition of Beth’s family to go there, they never missed a year and always had a great time renting a cabin with Beth’s parents. A place to relax and unwind, Steve did a lot of fishing while there and everyone enjoyed their typical breakfast of coffee and windmill cookies. When it came to food, Steve’s favorite meal was a good, home cooked roast beef dinner with mashed potatoes and corn which he always enjoyed on Sundays after church at his grandmas while growing up. He had quite a sweet tooth, especially for vanilla, Moose Tracks and Neapolitan ice cream. He never pushed away a Krispy Cream donut, and M&M’s and chocolate covered raisins along with windmill cookies were on his list of favorites, too!
Steve liked gospel music and was fond of the Gaither Brothers music. He loved to sing and possessed a beautiful singing voice. Several of his favorite songs included How Great Thou Art, Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone, and 10,000 Reasons. Every time Steve sang he had a way of being blessed and blessings others. He also served as a mentor coaching kid’s softball at church. He had played some himself when younger, and it made his heart glad to be there for the kids. Even though he didn’t golf much after his kids were born, he liked reading golf magazines.
Although Steve was raised in the Baptist faith, Beth was raised in the Seventh Reformed Church and that is where together they grew in their faith as a couple and as a family. They made Seventh Reformed their church home where Steve was very social. He enjoyed his many friendships through the church and with his unending servant’s heart, Steve was quite active there in many capacities. Fishing was one of Steve’s favorite pastimes. He and a group of friends liked going fishing on Friday nights and usually ended up at the Village Inn afterwards. In 1995 he took the custodian job at Seventh Reformed over from Beth and continued to love serving the church in this way to the last of his days.
With a rich and rewarding life, Steve Stellema considered himself blessed in a multitude of ways. Spending time enjoying the company of family brought him the greatest joy, although fishing chimed in a close second! Steve had an adventurous spirit. With his outgoing demeanor and easygoing ways, it was a pleasure to be a part of his life. Steve lived by way of example with integrity and honor. His faith was very important to him, and he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Most important in Steve’s life, his faith and the love of family was beyond compare. Although he will be dearly missed from love’s embrace, Steve is taking in the love of the Lord and all His glory forevermore.
Mr. Steve C. Stellema, aged 65, of Grand Rapids passed away unexpectedly on January 27, 2018. He is survived by his loving wife of 39 years, Beth; children, Michael Stellema, Gary Stellema, Becky (Jason) Snider, Craig (Sara) Stellema, Tom (Ashley) Stellema and Kerri (Nick) Patterson; grandchildren, Devin, Sabrina, Michelle, Stephen, Stone, Pandora, Susan, Kaylie, Lexi, Aubrey, Caiden, Charlotte, Hailey, Brody, Evelyn, Aurianna, Benjamin, and Grayson; and two great-grandchildren, Darrel and Lillian. Also surviving are his brother, Mark (Gigi) Stellema; brother-in-law, Mark (Susan) Keulen; nieces, cousins, and friends. The Funeral Service will be held at 1:00 PM on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at Seventh Reformed Church, 950 Leonard St. NW. Friends and family will visit from 6-8 PM on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Seventh Reformed Church Radio Fund. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read Steve’s life story, archive a memory, photo, or sign his guestbook online.