- About Us
Howard C. HuyserJune 18, 1925 ~ January 11, 2018 (age 92)
Howard C. Huyser climbed from the confines of the past year’s illness into the celestial wood shop to join his favorite fellow Son-of-a-carpenter in the joyous labour of making beautiful and useful things: his greatest gift.
Howard was preceded by his bride of nearly 65 years, Joann (nee Koolen), and is survived by daughter Michele Huyser Geerdes, son Howard Jr and his wife Janet. He is also survived by four grandchildren: Dana Huyser de Bernardo (Andrew), Jeremy Geerdes (Marci), Matthew Huyser (Amanda) and Brittany Geerdes, along with eleven great-grandchildren.
Joining them in celebrating a long, eventful and adventurous life are his sisters, Virginia Huyser Schollaart, and Joyce Huyser Bengelink and her husband Joe. And Brother-in-law Don Koolen with his wife Bonnie. Many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Howard was indeed adventurous and began by joining the Navy in the height of WWII, first going to navigator school. However, on his first on-ship assignment, he was no sooner under the Golden Gate Bridge than he discovered how prone he was to sea-sickness and he only completed the first leg of that trip before being honorably discharged. Undaunted, he returned to Grand Rapids and joined his father, Matthew, in a home construction business that would see them building many homes in the general Plymouth neighborhood from the late 40’s through the mid 60’s.
In 1968, the bug for adventure along with a passion to be of Christian service overtook him and he corralled wife and son to join him in India where he built staff housing and taught carpentry at Kodaikanal School, along with working with nationals on modern wood-working techniques for building sturdy homes.
Returning to Grand Rapids in early 1971, he joined the faculty of Kent Skills Center where in 20 years, his student-built homes were noted for their clever modern designs and unique use of space. He loved teaching and loved his students.
He was always on the go — traveling the four corners of the world, skiing both cross country and when lift fees were free after age 70, down hill, taking grandkids to all of the Michigan ski resorts. building cabinets for churches and missions around town, doing home repairs for the widows in his church, Bible studies and prayer groups.
“Retirement” only meant that he could volunteer more and do smaller woodworking projects culminating in the shop at Breton Woods where he and friends produced hundreds, perhaps thousands of little “God’s Kids” toy trucks and cars to be distributed by anyone making mission trips to disadvantaged regions anywhere in the world. There are delighted children playing with sturdy little toys in over 50 countries at last count.
In addition to his partners in the wood shop, his many caring friends and staff at Breton Ridge and the Manor were very important to his ability to make every transition with perspective and joy. Days spent volunteering with Kiwanis friends, going to breakfast with his long-valued men’s groups, and his deep connections to those in service to his beloved church families kept him surrounded with love and prayers.
He also discovered the Lathe and turned out countless unique and lovely lamps and wood bowls with his now 90 year-old hands. Finally stopped by a stroke in December 2016, he liked to tell people that his grandson learned how to use the lathe just to finish the last lamp on his workbench… pleased to have passed on his gift to the boy named for his own father, Matthew.
He also like to brag about his nurse granddaughter, his teacher grandson, and his entrepreneur granddaughter — simply beamed to talk about them all, and loved it when they called or visited. Following the MSU teams where two of the above-mentioned played in marching band and gave him much entertainment.
Even though the last year saw him limited, he found ways to have fun, play games and enjoy life, appreciating a friend from the Ridge who came almost every day to play Dominoes. Always a fan of gadgets, his high-tech mobility device gave him back some of the adventure he so enjoyed. Just weeks ago, he entertained his very young great-grandkids with Dominos and Uno, laughing and telling silly stories.
Son, Brother, Husband, Dad, Grandpa, Uncle, Great-grandpa (Great-papa with a beard), Teacher, Friend, Mentor, and recently, Patient, whatever people called him, all were inspired by his zest for life, his generosity, his playfulness, his ability to find fun in any circumstance and his commitment to his faith. We are all so pleased that he had an extra year, though limited, yet filled with joy, and that his passing was so peaceful, giving us a little time to be with him and let him know how much he was loved.
We celebrate his life on this plane, and send him with our thanks and blessings into his highest goal of meeting his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in glory.
Visitation will be held from 4-7pm Friday at the Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Home. The funeral service will be Saturday January 20th at 11:00 A.M. at Immanuel Reformed Church, 1300 E. Beltline Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506 with visitation one hour prior to the service. Interment in Cascade Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Mel Trotter Ministries.
Mel Trotter Ministries
225 Commerce Ave SW, Grand Rapids MI 49503