John Frederick Waanders, of Grand Haven, Michigan, passed away at the age of 92 in the comfort of his home overlooking Lake Michigan on the morning of Sunday, September 5th, 2021. John lived a healthy, active, and independent life until he sustained a head injury in a fall at his home on August 18, 2021. John was born in Hospers, Iowa, on June 7, 1929 to Doores Waanders (1897- 1995) and Grada (Heynen) Waanders (1904 -1989).
He enjoyed his childhood in a close-knit Dutch Calvinist farming community as the eldest of seven children surrounded by uncles, aunts, and cousins. John attended Western Christian High School, where he played basketball and was the school bus driver while still a student himself. He got a job at the Ford garage as a teenager, beginning a life-long love of repairing cars.
John served his country in the US Army during the Korean War, managing the motor pool, before attending Calvin College where he met and married Judith Nell (Hofstra) Waanders (1937-2019) on January 24, 1959, in South Holland, Illinois. John and Judy settled in Grand Haven, Michigan, where she became a school teacher, and he started a career in manufacturing at Michigan Plastics Products as a night shift foreman. He soon completed his MBA at Michigan State University to advance his career. In the late 1970s, he moved his family to Indiana to open Dekalb Molded Plastics in Butler, Indiana for J.S.J. where he served as President through the mid-1990s. He later served as interim President at several other J.S.J. companies before ending his career as President of the Grand Haven Brass Foundry. He was proud of his humble start, his understanding of the work done on the factory floor, and being part of something successful and growing.
In 1984, supporting his wife’s dream of owning a bookstore, they opened Waanders’ Bookmark, an independent bookstore in Auburn Indiana. In 1991, they purchased The Bookman in Grand Haven, Michigan and operated it as a family business for nearly 25 years, until they passed it to new ownership in 2015. In his later years, John found joy in simple things; researching his genealogy, reading old Zane Gray westerns, listening to Willie’s Road House radio, and eating Fricano’s pizza. He honored the cocktail hour his whole life, continuing them on Zoom calls with his kids twice a week through the pandemic.
John’s life ended like it began, surrounded by a large and loving extended family. He was a member of Second Christian Reformed Church and always asked that his family join him in reciting the Lord's Prayer. He loved his home on the shore of Lake Michigan where his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, and friends visited. He loved providing a place to gather and watching those he loved grow; find rewarding careers, love, and peace in their lives.
John’s wife, Judy, preceded him in death, passing on April 17, 2019, after 60 years of marriage. He missed her dearly these last two and a half years.
He is survived by his children, John “Jody” (Andreae) Waanders of Harbor Springs, MI; James (Jenifer) Waanders of Indianapolis, IN; Nicholas (Patricia) Waanders of Springdale, AR; Deborah (Keith) Haithcox of Osceola, IN; Amy (Kenneth) Jeninga of Brookfield, WI; and Peter (Jennifer) Waanders of Aspen, CO; 14 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by siblings, Henry (Herk) Waanders and JoAnne Brasser; and in-laws, Carl Sinke, Lewis Brasser, Jane Zwiers and Tom Abraham. He is survived by siblings and in-laws, Cora Mae Sinke, Marilyn Waanders, Doris (Jean) and Tony Diekema, William and Pat Waanders, Judy and Bob Wiers, and Cynthia Abraham. There are many others who are also considered part of our large and loved extended family. For John and Judy, family included anyone they took into their heart and home. All were welcome.
The Funeral Service for John will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 11, 2021 at Second Christian Reformed Church with Pastor Laura de Jong officiating. Visitations will be held Friday, September 10th, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Klaassen Family Funeral Home, and on Saturday, September 11th, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. at the Church. Interment will be at Lake Forest Cemetery.
For those unable to attend the Funeral Service, it will be live-streamed starting at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. Please go to https://youtube.com/user/harleydyk to view.
Messages of condolence for the family may be sent to: WaandersFamily@Waanders.net.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you join them in supporting the Waanders Family to meet needs in the local community. Memorial Contributions in Memory of John Waanders may be made to: The Waanders Family Fund C/O Grand Haven Area Community Foundation.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John Frederick Waanders, please visit our floral store.
Waanders Family Fund C/O Grand Haven Area Community Foundation
1 South Harbor Dr., Ste. 2, Grand Haven MI 49417