John Bernard Balkema passed away in the early morning hours of Dec. 30, 2011 in Mesa, Ariz. John was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and devoted friend to a large and varied group of people.
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John was born March 6, 1931 to John and Adriaana Balkema in Bozeman. He grew up in the area working on his dad's farm. John joined the Montana Army National Guard in 1948 and began a long and rewarding career. He was qualified to fly both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, although in his mind, the CH34 was the "only aircraft in the air."
On April 18, 1953 John married Luella Rae Kent. They were married 57 years and enjoyed many adventures, trips and a lifetime of fun together. John drove a Hudson when he was young and continued to restore and drive Hudsons in his later years. He was active in both the Big Sky and Arizona chapters of the Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Club.
John was a man that could accomplish anything he put his mind to. He remodeled homes, built a home on Hauser Lake, rebuilt vehicles and designed and built the infamous "Paddle-wheel" barge that graced Lakeside Marina for many years. John was also a founding member of the Lakeside Volunteer Fire Department.
John was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Martin Balkema; and daughter-in-law, Robin Holland Balkema. John is survived by his wife, Luella of Apache Junction, Ariz.; son, Robert Balkema (Laurie Vogle) of Lakewood, Colo.; daughter, Kathy Goroski (Dave) of Helena; and his sister, Nellie Soll (Dick) of Oregon City, Ore. John is also survived by grandchildren, Aaron Eslick of Helena, Jennifer Ebuna of Leadville, Colo.; Joshua Goroski of Great Falls and Shandel Balkema of Littleton, Colo. His wisdom, sense of humor and strong opinions will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
A service will take place on Friday, Jan. 13 at 11 a.m. at Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home, 3750 N. Montana Ave. A graveside service with military honors will follow at Montana State Veterans Cemetery at Ft. Harrison.
Memorials are suggested to the Montana Military Museum c/o Lewis & Clark Historical Society, 316 N. Park Ave., Helena, MT 59623 or to an organization of the donor's choice. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting: www.aswfuneralhome.com.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Jan. 11, 2012