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Ron Steenwyk 60th Birthday Memoir

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Ron Steenwyk 60th Birthday Memoir - Page Text Content

S: A Birthday Memoir

BC: Happy 60th Dad!

FC: 60 Years with Ronald Steenwyk: A Birthday Memoir

1: In honor of your 60th Birthday we have gathered pictures, stories, reflections, and birthday wishes from your friends and family members throughout the country. We hope you will enjoy and cherish this book as a reminder of how many people God has blessed through you in your first 60 years of life. | With hammer, saw, solder gun, plywood, wire, switches and light bulbs, he fashioned a space ship control console. It came fully stained, complete with an array of colored lights, switches and dials designed to bedazzle any young space explorer. I thought that this was pretty cool and played with it quite a bit, at least initially. As time wore on, however, my playmates, being a bit less imaginative and less willing to be part of my many creative encounters with aliens and hostile space warships, tired of the process.

2: Where it all began

3: Ron and his adoring mother in Zeeland, Michigan 1949. You sure have come a long way since then.

4: Happy 60th Birthday, Love Mom & Dad

5: Ron, one memory that stands out for me from your childhood is when you and your brother would chase me around with one of the dead mice we caught in the trap. You always loved to tease and that made life with you a lot of fun. | Your father and I are very proud of you and so grateful to have you as our son. We love you very much and we wish you many more years of life and health.

6: Ron, when you were younger I always remember that you and your brother Steve would come to visit me after church with your parents. This weekly tradition didn't end until you were about 19 when Anne said that you were getting too old to come along anymore. I was sad when I found out, I always enjoyed those visits. Happy 60th Birthday. -Love, Aunt Stella

7: Memories From Bill As a young boy, I was enamored with science fiction TV shows, such as the Saturday morning staple, "Fireball XL5". Along with the on-screen fun, we created many a harrowing outer-space adventure through play. With no video games to help us in acting out these fantasies, we made do with raw imagination and an occasional crude prop | Noticing all this, Ron decided to put his technical prowess to work. With hammer, saw, solder gun, plywood, wire, switches and light bulbs, he fashioned a space ship control console. It came fully stained, complete with an array of colored lights, switches and dials designed to bedazzle any young space explorer. I thought that this was pretty cool and played with it quite a bit. | As time wore on, however, my playmates, being a bit less imaginative and less willing to be part of my many creative encounters with aliens and hostile space warships, tired of the process. Playing by myself was ok for a while, but without playmates, it lost some of it's sizzle. They preferred board games, cops & robbers, cowboys & Indians, or Americans vs. Germans. Soon, the space console was only fired up on rare occasion. In the end, it went the way of Puff the Magic Dragon. Nonetheless, it was pretty cool and a nice gift from my techno-brother.

8: Jayne's Reflections As I was thinking of memories that I had of you, the first vivid memory that stands out is of you "beating up" my dolls by pounding them in the face. I know you got pleasure seeing seeing me cry and beg mom for help, but I also knew that was your way of showing me affection. Now, I don't know if I felt that at the time, but as I got older I just knew that was your way of showing me that you cared for me. I also rememeber you as the babysitter when mom and dad would be gone for the evening. I recall playing games outside with a large group of neighbor kids on summer evenings. Jerry Timmer, Nelva,Vickie, and you were always the "big guys". I remember you in the basement making radios while Steve was blowing up the house with his chemistry experiments. I rememeber the black and blue arms you gave me as you walked by me and pounded me, another "act of affection". (Maybe you should enlist the services of your son and daughter-law to understand your need of showing affection with violence-ha ha!) I remember snowball fights, quickly doing dishes and clean-up so we could open presents on Christmas Eve. I remember visiting Kathy and you in your house trailor as newly weds. I remember going on doubles with Kath and you on my first date with John. The memories that I have of and with you have been and are an important part of my life. I'm thankful that you are my "big brother" and I will always cherish our memories together. No one can take that away from me. I'm grateful that I can be a part of this celebration of your life. I know I speak for John as well. John and I wish you a Happy 60th Birthday! I (we) love you and always will! Love, Jayne and John

9: Judy's Turn Being more than ten years younger, I don't have much in the way of shared memories from childhood. I do remember the Tesla Coil you built for a science fair. Although I didn't really undersaand what it was, I thought it was really cool and exciting becuase of the sparks it made. | When I was a teenager I remember you and Kathy having me over for dinner at your trailer. That always made me feel really special.

10: thoughts & memories on my big brother's 60th birthday | Dear Ron, Sixty, I can’t believe it. I look back and wonder how it could be! Only “old people” are sixty and I’m right on your heels. Your decadal milestones are always my wake-up call. You’re always just a little further over the hill. Old fogydom has arrived, Ron. I found some old pictures of us as kids. You certainly were and still are my BIG brother. We had fun playing with neighbors and cousins. When you decorated your bike for the Memorial Day Parade, I thought you were really cool. Remember we went fishing in the gravel pit and camped out? I was wowed out by your account of spearing suckers in the spring, so I got a spear the next year. When we shoveled the driveway of snow, you seemed to enjoy the heavy work; I just endured it. Topping onions—now, those were hot days, but you seemed to like the work. We had lots of fishing trips with dad, cleaning buckets of perch together on the lawn on Saturday afternoons in June. We only parted ways in fishing when you pursued your favorite fish, “king carp.” | As teenagers, I remember our long walks on summer Sunday evenings when we’d talk about things philosophical, such as the nature of time and God. Of course, we loved to argue about the relative merits of carp versus bass, and, in the next minute, whether God was “in time” or outside of time. It didn’t matter the topic, as long as we could discuss and argue. You touted the merits of electronics while I argued the superiority of chemistry. I remember coming to see you as my best friend and confidant as well as my big brother. Despite our different personalities, we’ve come to see the world in similar ways and share similar values and politics. Together we enjoyed many events in the lives of our families. Perhaps most memorable were the weeks we spent together with our families at Winfield Lake.

11: Nancy and I have enjoyed the friendship of you and Kathy over all these years of marriage and change. We remember your visit to us in Lansing before you left for Seattle with baby Mark. We were all thinking about changes in our futures and going separate ways. We watched our children grow together as cousins and good friends and then get married. Providence has led us all back to West Michigan. Its been wonderful to be able to both be in the Grand Rapids area for these last 20 years. We had your 40th birthday at our place on Tecumseh the year we came back to Michigan; now it’s your 60th. God has been good to you and I, blessing us richly. | Nancy and I wish you and Kathy many more years of life. We are all moving a little slower and taking more pills than we can keep track of without a weekly pill organizer. We all pray for your health and wellbeing. With God’s grace, maybe you and I will be together for another 20 years, with our families as they grow. If not, we are assured we will be together in the end as brothers in Christ, brothers indeed. Affectionately, your “little” brother, Steve

12: More From Steve

14: Ronald Lee Steenwyk & Kathleen Hope Arnoldink | Married in Graafchap, Michigan Friday October, 1 1971

15: Ron at Play

16: Ron the Graduate

17: Ron and I went to Calvin Theological Seminary in 1978. We both graduated at the same time (1981). Ron was (and still is) an excellent student; we would often regurgitate our course sessions of the day in the Seminary coffee shop. He could be "pensive" about things. I would make a statement thinking that nothing more could be said on the subject, only to hear Ron say, "but, but have you thought about this...." Ron did not only have a knack for uttering thoughtful reflections, he also was very good at saving himself (and I suppose, Kathy) a heap of time. In order to survive starvation and avoid wellfare, students often had to go out and fill vacant pulpits here and there and everywhere. That was good for preaching skills development, and also good for the wallet. | However, preaching assignments also require extra hours doing exegesis and homework on a particular text. Ron's time efficiency was amazing; he preached Psalm 1 I don't know how many times, but word had it that Kathy had heard Ron's sermon so often that she could dream Ron's sermon and would have been able to preach it eloquently if only Synod had gotten its act together a few years earlier. Of course, any smart seminarian could have done with some practice and lots of savvy what Ron did with such flair and ease, but surely not everyone could get away with it. Ron, happy 60th birthday! May God give you many more years with Kathy and all your loved ones. Thanks for your friendship and kindness shown to Rosanne and me all these years. Blessed, indeed, is the man whose "delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night." May you and your loved ones continue to live by the drumbeat of Psalm 1. And may God watch over your ways always. With joy and happy memories, Jack Van Marion (and Rosanne)

18: Memories of Ron.... where do we begin! It has been almost 40 years now since I (Tom a few less) have known you...I can hardly believe that. Probably most people that are around you appreciate your obvious qualities of deep thinker, counselor, intelligent, and could take for granted this other side that I have been privileged enough to get to know.... your HUMOR! You are TRULY a funny guy. I don't think I have ever been with you when I haven't had a good laugh (did that sound right)? We have memories of you and Kathy spending many Labor Day Monday's at our house cooking out on the grill, going out on the boat fishing...and I think we even caught a few! The weekends I spent with Kathy in GR are also times that I hold dear because we always joked about us "ARN" sisters!! I know we are strange but remember you married one of them!!! Then there are of course the more serious things I remember as well...like when you read Scripture and spoke at our wedding, that was very meaningful to us and we are blessed to have that memory. Then to have you do the same thing at Bethany's wedding, wow...incredible to have such a great family! I know they will always remember the words of wisdom you shared with them that day. Tom and I have always felt that we could talk with you about anything. We love your appreciation and understanding of the Bible, you have gained Godly wisdom because of the time you have taken to meditate on your studies, it makes sharing our thoughts with you about God and the Bible extremely enjoyable. Those are personal thoughts and feelings that you can't share with everyone. We have you to share that love with and again another blessing we have in family. We admire you and feel very proud to have you as our brother. We hope God blesses you with many more birthdays Ron, we love you. Love Tom and Deb

20: As I recall it, you and I didn’t get to know each other very much during our formal seminary training. I remember seeing you up in the seminary lunch break room, but that was about it. We really got to know each other during our one course of chaplaincy training, which was led by Jim, one of our seminary professors. At some point during the training one of our fellow seminarians who apparently had a big chip on his shoulder for having to go through chaplaincy training, was having some attitude problems. At one point Jim really called him out and chewed him up and spit him out, so to speak. After both having just witnessed such a spectacular reprimand, you and I found ourselves having to process what we had just witnessed. | As time passed, we started to talk more and more with each other concerning all sorts of different subjects. I think that both of us needed a friend with whom we could talk about our seminary training in general and our chaplaincy training in particular. Our friendship was finally sealed when we both were assigned to the adolescent wing at Pine Rest. During this time we learned a lot about ourselves as students and pastors. We both felt like fish out of water at our respective units and tried to fit in with the young people’s groups as best we could. As our time there progressed, we started to have fun within the predicament in which we found ourselves. It started by having lots of talks about the young people we were working with and trying to figure out how to best blend in and attempt to understand the world through their eyes. Eventually we began to play games with each other regarding our assignments, or our assignments started playing games with us. | The Birth of a Friendship Rog Kraker

21: We found ourselves really starting to look at the world through the eyes of those adolescent folks that we were supposed to be ministering to. We were so adept at this that we found ourselves taking on some of their same behavior patterns, we even started walking and talking like them at times. Their gait, demeanor, everything started becoming second nature for us as soon as we reached our units. At times we would joke about it and pretend to act just like our patients, but I think there was a part of each of us that was really concerned. We decided to help keep each other keep sane, but I don’t think we really know even to this day if we succeeded in that endeavor. Perhaps being a bit off our own rockers to begin with helped! Soon we found ourselves in a race to the finish line of our rotation. We figured it was either that or not too long until we became inmates right along with those to whom we were ministering. The line between sanity and insanity began getting more and more blurred. What was sanity really. What was insanity. Neither you nor I had the answer anymore. Back in our groups, we talked to Jim, our leader, and to our colleagues too. Most of them didn’t seem to be in the predicament that we were in. They weren’t to the point that they started to question their own sanity!! What had happened to us?? Had we crossed a line that we shouldn’t have? Could we go back or were we casualties of ministry? Was the line of sanity and insanity really that thin? What was sanity? We talked with Jim our supervisor and he congratulated us. We had dared to go to the edge and found that we weren’t sure where the edge was. Jim just smiled and was happy we had gone where we had gone. We weren’t the flunkies. We were the bravehearts. You and I had gone where others had not the courage to go!! We were heroes when all the while we had felt like Flunkies. Our friendship was sealed. A bond was forged, and it will last the test of time. Well it went something like that anyway!! BIG DADDY RON CONGRATULATIONS ON ENTERING THE SIXTIES DECADE IT’S NOT SO BAD; WELL IT’S NOT SO GOOD EITHER HEY, DON’T WORRY ABOUT A THING. WE’LL MAKE IT WITH OUR CANES AND CRUTCHES. REV. RAUNCH

22: The Proud Papa

23: Along came little Baa to make the family complete. At least for a little while . . .

24: Happy 60th birthday Ron! We feel honored to be a part of your past and have the privilege of adding our greetings to your book of memories. Knowing you and your family for 30 some years and keeping the tie of friendship in spite of the distance says volumes for the commitment to our relationship. We remember well your time at the Seattle CRC. You and Kathy had a very positive influence on the people there. You not only preached the Word but you lived it. Your kind and loving spirit was so very evident in all you strived to do. Now as we observe your dear children, their accomplishments and goals to help others, and most importantly, their walk with Christ, it is obvious you succeeded in the most important aspect--the example you demonstrated as a Christian father. We send you our best wishes for a very happy and memorable birthday with your family and friends. Love always, Lee and Lois Broughton | Warm Wishes from Seattle! | To our good friend, Ron, Congratulations on reaching your 60th birthday. May the Lord continue to bless and keep you in good health and able to enjoy your growing family to the fullest. Although our relationships were limited, mostly because of generation gap, I value the times we are and were able to get together, the information we share, and our mutual admiration for each other. A couple of events stand out in my memory; first, when you came to Seattle we shared some of our furniture with you including a black and white television for use in the house next to the church which you called home. The other memory was when you came for a vacation visit you stayed in my house at 26th and 137th and I had to set up another bed. Enough said! Best wishes, Harold and Nancy

25: Ron, This year marks not only the 60th anniversary of your birth but also the 35th anniversary of the “birth” of our friendship as couples with you and Kathy. This friendship over the years is best symbolized, perhaps, by our get-togethers at each other’s houses each New Year’s Eve. To the best of our knowledge, this tradition began on December 31, 1973, before Dawn and I were even married, and has continued for 35 straight years. (The only interruption, we think, was New Year’s Eve, 1978, when we were on a study year in Germany.) In our annual ushering in of the new year, we have progressed from one couple married two years and the other just engaged, to married couples without children, to couples with one and later two children each, to “empty nesters,” and now, this past year, to grandparents and grandparents-to-be. What a lot has hap-pened and how quickly the time has passed! This occasion, however, is first of all about you and not about us. So congratulations on 60 years of life, and thank you for your faithfulness as a Christian friend, husband, father, churchman, and Kingdom worker. May God richly bless you in the years ahead. Lyle and Dawn Bierma | A New Year, Birthday Wishes from the Bierma's

26: Steve's Selections Ron "The Hugger"


28: Your family has grown | You preached great messages at each of your children's weddings

29: You walked your little girl down the aisle. You added Sherry and David and their families to your own.

30: Happy Birthday Dad I knew soon after we met that we would get along well. You have a kind compassionate heart, a wise soul, and a great sense of humor (I even laugh at your cheesy jokes). One of the things I enjoy most about times when we are together is just sitting and talking about life, faith, & people. I greatly value your opinions and love hearing your perspective. | In the few years I've known you we have so many fun memories in Michigan, Chicago, Pasadena, Indiana, and Minnesota. No matter where we are I always know I'll enjoy just being with you. (I also know that the topic of salmon patties will usually come up...and someday I'll probably try one.) Dad, I pray that God will continue to bless you and watch over you. Thank you for being such a blessing to my life. With love, Sherry

32: Cheers for 60 years!

33: Minnesota Memories with the Milbright's

34: Graduation in California | The proud papa!

36: Dear Uncle Ron, Happy birthday! I clearly remember your 40th surprise birthday party at Grace Church 20 years ago. In fact, I have accumulated plenty of good memories over the years. Of course, times spent at “the cottage” on Winfield lake are my earliest clear memories of my Uncle Ron. I remember how Emily and I happily awaited an evening to go fishing with our dads. I remember many other trips we took as families, like to Toronto and Cedar Point. Even before cell phones, you and my dad would communicate from our respective cars with “hey big bro” and “hey little bro.” There were the many days I spent with Emily at your house, the family pizza parties, and of course the election day gatherings! Of course more recently I remember you and Aunt Kathy taking part in our wedding in 2007, and scrumptious brunches at your house. Through all these memories, I have come to know and respect you very much, Uncle Ron. I see that you are a man of God, with true integrity, intelligence, and concern for everyone. You are a role model to your family, including me. Happy birthday, and may God give you many happy years to come! Love, Michelle

37: Dear Ron, We wanted to wish you a Happy 60th Birthday!! We have really enjoyed being your neighbors for the past five years. Our kids have grown to love both you and Kathy like second grandparents. Kennidee gets so excited when she sees you out the window...she always proclaims "Look!! There's Ron" or "Look!! There's Kathy and Alex. She is always asking, "what is Ron doing" or "where's Ron?". She always tags along with us when we take care of Alex when you're gone and she loves to feed Alex. She can't wait to put food in his bowl and water in his dish. One of the funniest things that Jason and I can remember happened last summer when Kennidee was playing in the backyard. Ron and Kathy had some friends over and Ron and another man walked into the backyard. Kennidee, who is always so observant, took one look at Ron and the other man and proclaimed in a loud voice, "Look Mommy, TWO RONS!!!" Jason and I laughed so hard when we heard that come out of her mouth, it was so cute. I told Kathy about it the next day and she couldn't stop laughing either!! What great memories. We look forward to many more memories and we treasure the times that both of our kids have with you. Have a great birthday, Ron!! Love, The Crump Family Jason, Kim, Kennidee & Landon

38: Congratulations Dad! I hope that God gives you rich and abundant blessings and that your spiritual health may abound in your life giving you peace, love, and happiness. May you enjoy this special birthday! Personally, I am very happy to be a part of your family. You are a very special person and you are my favorite father-in-law! I have many memories of times that we have spent together. | In particular, I remember one night before we ate dinner when mom asked me if I wanted to eat, and I asked if, “all people are going to eat?” But you thought I said “if the old people are going to eat.” Of course, that is not what I wanted to say, but we sure laughed a lot about it later. However, you are a young man and I hope that God gives you many more years of life together with our family and that you may be able to enjoy having many grandchildren! With my love, David (your favorite son-in-law)

39: Dear Dad, I wish I were a poet and I would create you a poem, a song-writer and I would write you a song, a web designer and I would make you a website, an artist and I would paint you a picture (but David is good at that), or a multitude of other things to show you my profound gratitude for your life and your role as a father to me. Words cannot express my thankfulness to God, first of all, for blessing me with such a wonderful father, and my thankfulness to you, second of all, for your love, support, discipline, and instruction throughout my life. David and I both look up to you and cherish you as our beloved Dad, a man of faithfulness and deep integrity. We love you and pray that God gives you many more years of health and strength. We can’t wait to introduce you to your grandson in a few months. We know you will be a GREAT grandpa! We LOVE you so much! May God bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you. Love, Emily

40: Dear Ron, Happy 60th Birthday, I can’t believe you are 60 already. The time has just flown by since our first date on Sept. 26, 1970 touring WHTC, bowling and eating at Russ’ - and now here we are Feb. 21, 2009. Truly a life time of blessings, adventures, humor and much love and caring for each other and our children, Mark and Emily and now Sherry and David as well. The exciting day Mark was born and how later that day July 1, 1979 you preached twice and told both congregations about your new son born early that morning. What a proud new Daddy you were and have remained all these years. Also, the night (March 7, 1983) I was in labor with Emily and you had just come home from your WJBL job and we headed to Butterworth Hospital with Joan Kromminga here with Mark asleep upstairs. Our beautiful baby girl arrived on March 8 at 10:08 a.m. The years 1973 – 1981 you were at Calvin College and Seminary were filled with lots of studying, preaching (Psalm 1), working, some fishing and vacations, and entertaining friends and family in our home in Windmill Trailer Park, East Lakewood Blvd. lot 35. Your graduating from both Calvin College and Seminary, how hard you worked to reach these milestones. The night we surprised you on your 24th birthday, what a fun party that was. The weddings - Mark and Sherry and Emily and David, you were just beaming, such a proud Papa. Your messages at both weddings were “typical Ron”, always a touch of humor mixed in. Our visits to see Steve and Nancy in PA, Don and Judy Steenwyk in Gaylord, MI Rog and Von in New Berlin, WI and Al and Marcia Petroelje, in Crown Point, IN; Marysville, WA and Manhatten, MT. our time spent in Redwing, MN to see Sue, share Christmas ’07 together. Our recent trips to Pasadena starting in 2003 to visit Mark first and later all four of them – what amazing family fun we have had! The many new friends we made in Seattle and the terrific adventures we had at the Space Needle, the market downtown, riding the ferry on Puget Sound with Mark in the umbrella stroller. How special it was when Rog and Von, Faith and Dar Kamphuis and your folks came to visit - what a terrific year that was! And life cannot be complete with out all the car-pool routes for the kids back and forth to The Potter’s House School, and the many activities they were in, soccer, soccer camp, baseball, choir concerts, The Open Houses, drama (Emily), driver’s training, taking the kids out in the “country” to drive. Then of course the graduations of Mark and Emily – The Potter’s House, Oakdale Christian, Grand Rapids Christian High, Calvin College and now Fuller Theological Seminary and School of Psychology.

41: I know these are but a few of the highlights of a very blessed life and as you look towards the future I hope it opens many opportunities for you. One special one is to be a Grandpa for the very first time – enjoy this new phase of your life Ron. I feel abundantly blessed and thankful to have been your wife for 37+ GREAT years; I pray God will bless us with more happy/healthy years together. Happy Birthday Ron! I hope this big 60 birthday is the BEST one yet! I’m so proud of you; you are indeed a good man! P.S. Mr. Pretty says “Happy Birthday and thanks for such good care Dad” I love you! Kath

43: Happy 60th Birthday Dad, When I first had the idea to put this book together for your birthday, I never anticipated that it would take as much of my time and energy as it has. I also did not expect that it would be as rewarding of an experience as it was. In gathering and looking at all the pictures I received and reading through the memories, reflections, and well wishes I was sent, I began to experience you in a new way. I had access to Ron the little boy, the teenager, the young man, the student, the professional, the friend, the big brother, the proud young papa, and the loving husband. I saw the different shades of your personality reflected through the eyes of those who have been close to you throughout the full range of your first sixty years of life. To have that access is a rare privilege and I feel deeply grateful for it. What stood out the most to me about the notes I received was that despite significant variation in their choice of message and form, the overwhelming sentiment remained the same; you are deeply cherished and respected. As for myself, what can I say? You have been such an amazing role model and outstanding father. You have raised me in the way of the Lord and taught me what it means to a man, a husband, and a servant of Christ. Beyond this, you are truly a joy to spend time with. I cherish all the time that we have had together, look forward to many more years of wonderful memories, and respect you more than you could ever know. So as I begin to put the finishing touches on this book, I can look back on it as a project born out of love and fueled forward by gratitude and admiration. Having just spent a significant amount of time glimpsing into your life and relationships I can definitively say that you have been a wonderful blessing to many, many people. I feel humbled beyond words to be your son. I only hope that when I turn sixty in another thirty years I am worthy of garnering the same level of affection and admiration that you have. Love, Mark

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