Obituary of John George Van Ravenswaay
On Sunday, May 16, 2021, John George Van Ravenswaay, loving husband and father, was called into the presence of Almighty God at the age of 81. John was fourth among thirteen siblings, born on October 21, 1939, in Grand Rapids, Michigan to John and Angenietha (Smit) Van Ravenswaay. A graduate from Kalamazoo Central High School, he served four years in the United States Navy as a Petty Officer. He then worked in the trades as an electric power lineman, journeyman meat cutter, logger, saw mill owner and operator, woodworking craftsman and factory equipment operator until retiring in 1999. On November 15, 1958, John married his high school sweetheart, Sharon Kay Courtney, of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Together, they raised two daughters, Katherine and Karen, and five sons, Kenneth, Kevin, Keith, Kory, and Karl. John had a passion for craftsmanship and bringing life to created things—from bicycles assembled with spare parts, to wooden furniture and children’s toys of his own design, to derelict machines of all sorts. But what brought him even more joy was his love for music. John especially appreciated quality stringed instruments. His greatest talent was playing the guitar with which he performed his own brand of old country songs and gospel-inspired music. John faithfully read his Bible daily for guidance and strength and many of the songs he chose conveyed his deep love for God and the forgiveness offered in Jesus Christ. John especially enjoyed blessing others with his music at churches and assisted living centers, at The Music Barn in Martin, Michigan, at Scotts, his granddaughter’s wedding, and anywhere else a guitar or a harmonica was found waiting. And John loved the sweet music of Michigan song birds, cultivating their habitats in his back yard and teaching their individual calls to his grandchildren. John was known for his distinctive, immaculately trimmed beard which easily gave him a “Santa” persona. And aided by the twinkle in his eyes when he laughed, he was the delight of many children while walking through the mall. John also enjoyed spending free time reading adventure stories and westerns. He loved all water, to include the ocean. He dreamed of owning a yacht and many summer memories were made by taking his family for picnics at Lake Huron. He enjoyed nature and would often go for walks or rides for hours at a time. Rarely did he meet a stranger. It tickled him to tease waitresses about his cold coffee and it blessed him to encourage friends in their endeavors. A love for family was deep in his heart. He was a private man who rarely expressed affection individually, but would speak of his loved ones to others with deep endearment, praise, and concern for them, often with tears in his eyes. John was preceded in death by his father, John, his mother, Agnes, brothers Garrett, Henry, and Victor, and sisters Anita Shoemaker and Victoria Van Ravenswaay Brown. He is survived by Sharon, his wife of 62 years, his seven children, brothers Fred, Vincent, Bob, Timothy, August, and Jim, sister Alida Decamp, sixteen grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and more cousins, nieces and nephews than can possibly be named. A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, May 26th, 2021, at 1:00 PM in the sanctuary of At The Master’s Feet Discipleship Ministry, 814 21st Street, Otsego, Michigan 49078. In lieu of flowers, send donations in John’s memory to the church’s Handicap Lift Fund. John’s ashes will be laid to rest at the Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, Michigan.