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4575 Remembrance Rd NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned times of war and times of peace; times of plenty and times of want, Bill Hamelink knew the value of hard work. Along with his beloved wife and the family he held most dear by his side, Bill lived fully at every opportunity. An ever present fixture within his community, he was a tried and true Westsider where he formed many lasting friendships through the years. For ways all his own, he will be fondly remembered.
Bill’s story began at a time of great change in the U.S. Jazz music blossomed, and the flapper redefined modern womanhood. The year 1923 marked many firsts in the fabric of the American culture as the Walt Disney Company was founded, insulin became available for diabetics, and a vaccine for the whooping cough was developed. When the eight hour workday was established that very year, manufacturing boomed. In the riverfront city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, William Hamelink was born on October 15, 1923, the son of Peter and Florence (Bylsma) Hamelink.
The youngest of five children in the Hamelink household, Bill joined his older siblings, George, John, Irene, and Elizabeth “Betty” in their family home on 9th Street NW before moving to a house on Jeanette Street NW. Times were especially difficult during the Great Depression which created economic struggles for all. Very poor during his youth, these days of the Depression were very hard on Bill’s family.
At the age of six, Bill began working for a dairy farmer in the fields in exchange for crops and milk to help his family get by. What made matters worse was when his father left the family during these tumultuous times. Bill attended Union High School through the 11th grade at which time he left his schooling behind to help support his family. Even so, his family lost their home but moved to a cabin they had up north on Myers Lake. While it had no running water or electricity, Bill and his family were thankful to have a roof over their heads.
With World War II well underway, in February of 1943, Bill enlisted to serve in the U.S. Army completing his training in El Paso, Texas. A three year tour, he was stationed stateside driving truck and also anti-aircraft.
Bill was honorably discharged from the service in 1946. He returned home to Grand Rapids and began working for American Seating, remaining there until he retired in 1983. A loyal and valued employee, even after Bill retired the company would call on him for research and development things the way only Bill could.
During the late 1940s, Bill was becoming quite accustomed to life following the war and working a steady job. Soon his life and heart would be forever changed. Minnie Curtice and her family moved from Grand Rapids to Bitely, Michigan during the Depression. It just so happened Bill liked to deer hunt in Bitely, and as fate would have it, their paths crossed and they met. Soon Minnie moved back to Grand Rapids and it was then when they began their dating relationship.
Deeply in love, Bill and Minnie were happily married on October 7, 1949. For a brief time they lived on the northeast side of town but then bought their forever home on Richmond Street NW where they raised their family. The addition of their three children, Bill, David and Linda brought much joy to the lives of Bill and Minnie. Together they worked hard to make a good life for their kids and were active in all their endeavors.
Bill liked to travel and many family vacations were spent traveling throughout Michigan and the greater Midwest. They especially enjoyed camping and fishing together, and the more rustic the better for Bill. They tent camped without the luxury of running water and quite often for two weeks every year near the Upper Peninsula. In recent years, Bill, at the age of 90, even went camping by himself up in the UP. He thoroughly loved the Carp River area and would even take his canoe. He always took enough food and water to last a couple of days and when it ran out, it was time for him to head home.
In his free time, Bill very much enjoyed woodworking and gardening all while growing flowers from seed. He loved being outdoors and all it had to offer, and he never much cared for being cooped up in the cold months of winter. One of Bill’s favorite places besides in the company of his family was simply sitting on his back porch taking in nature. Bill also liked visiting one of the casinos near the Soo for meals but not generally to gamble. When it came to music, Bill listened to the sounds of the big bands in his car. On TV he enjoyed old movies on the Turner Classic Movie channel and the History channel. He also had a penchant for watching sports on TV. Bill and Minnie worked side-by-side and built their own garage. Bill was always a handy fellow and could fix anything. Recently, when a tree took down one of his sheds, Bill decided, even at the age of 90, he’d put it back together . . . again at the age of 90!
When Bill’s beloved Minnie passed away in 2005 he missed her dearly yet he was one to never sit idle. He was an active member of the American Legion Post #208, and he liked having breakfast with the American Seating retirees each month. In addition, Bill’s faith was always important to him. For many years he was an involved member at Remembrance Church where he shared the friendships of many. Bill seemed to never stop. He kept going and remained very active, always remaining a regular attendee of social and church events.
Bill was a man devoted to his faith and family. Throughout his life journey he was thankful for much and learned valuable lessons along the way. He leaves much to be remembered and will be deeply missed.
Mr. William “Bill” Hamelink, age 95, of Grand Rapids, went to be with his Lord and Savior on May 2, 2019. He was preceded in death by his wife, Minnie; son, William; and siblings, George (Catherine) Hamelink, John (Jane) Hamelink, Irene (Jake) Glerum and Elizabeth (Clifford) Myers. Bill is survived by his children, David Hamelink and Linda VanderWal; daughter-in-law, Carol Hamelink; grandchildren, Corey Hamelink, Robert Vidro, Michelle (Alex) Schipper, Sue (Scott) Calkins and Alan (Mindy) Minch; 2 great-grandchildren; several nieces and nephew. The Funeral Service will be held at 1:00 PM on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at Remembrance Church, 4575 Remembrance Rd. NW. Bill’s family will gather to share stories and memories from 6-8 PM on Monday at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW and for one hour prior to the service at church. Contributions in his memory may be made to Remembrance Church or American Legion Post #208. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to submit a memory, photo or to sign the guestbook online.