Jan H. "John" Vels
1933 - 2021
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Vels, Jan "John" H. 3/8/1933 - 1/20/2021 Kalamazoo "If God is for us, who can be against us." After a nearly 2 year struggle with Lewy Body Dementia, John Hendrik Vels peacefully slipped away into the loving arms of his faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. John was born on March 8, 1933 in Groningen, The Netherlands. He was the eldest of 9 children born to Geert and Grietje (Weesies) Vels. On August 28,1957 John (finally!) married Ida Koops in Haren, The Netherlands. John left for America (again) soon after the marriage and Ida followed him a few months later to emigrate to Kalamazoo, Michigan. John was primarily employed with the company Block and Pipe. While in Kalamazoo two children were born, Sharon Ann in 1958 and Henry Gerard in 1961. In 1963 after experiencing severe homesickness (Ida), the young couple returned to the "Old Country", where Peter Alexander was born in 1964. John worked for Vels & Zonen Building Supply Company, owned by his Father and his Uncles. After spending 5 years in The Netherlands, John again had a strong desire to emigrate back to America, settling in Grand Haven, Michigan where he was employed with Rycenga Builders. He eventually accepted a job with B&B Trucking Company as a mail hauler for the USPS. This job brought the family back to Kalamazoo where they settled on 5 acres and eventually 7 acres in the country. After driving millions of miles and eating a ton of dry roasted peanuts, he retired at the age of 62. John and Ida were life-long members of the Christian Reformed Church both in The Netherlands and America. John served faithfully as Elder, Cadet, Song and Bible Study leader. John enjoyed gardening, growing a wide variety of veggies, especially Kale. He was also an avid walker and bicyclist, alone and with family. Collecting, splitting and stacking wood for his woodburning stove occupied many happy hours of his life. Spending time with friends and family was always a delight, especially when grand and great grandchildren joined the circle. Even though Dementia robbed him of living out the remaining years of his life peacefully, it did not lesson his love for sharing stories of family history, Bible verses and Spiritual songs (both in English and Dutch). On Wednesday, January 20 at 11:18 a.m God in His infinate mercy said "Enough" good and faithful servant. Left to cherish John's memory is his faithful and devoted wife of 63 years Ida, his children Sharon (Tim)Dykstra, Peter (Laura)Vels,grandchildren Ben (Bradi)Dykstra, Alex (Rebecka)Dykstra, Jonathan Vels and 4 Great-grandchildren, Noah, Eleanor, Avyllenne and Theodore Dykstra (who affectionately called him Opa John). Siblings and In-laws Klaas (Gerda) Vels, Anna Vels, Miek Vels, Henk(Ans) Vels, Gerard(Roelien) Vels, Jacob and Tiny(Koops)Loode, Gerrit and Frieda Koops(all of The Netherlands) and Piet and Nellie Vels of South Bend, Indiana. Also, his special Koffie Klatch friends who were like family, as well as dear friends in Canada and The Netherlands. John was preceded in death by his parents Geert and Grietje (Weesies), parents-in-law Hendrik and Jantje (Abbring) Koops, sisters Evelyn Kramer and Helen Grashuis, in-laws Henk Grashuis, Piet and Fennie(Koops)VanderPloeg, son H Gerard Vels and granchildren Anneke and Landon Vels. Arrangements entrusted to Langeland Family Funeral Homes Burial & Cremation Services, 622 S. Burdick St. Kalamazoo, MI 49007. Private services and burial were held earlier this week. Those desiring may make memorial contributions to either 2nd Christian Reformed Church or Park Village Pines. Please visit John's personalized web page at https://www.langelands.com


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Published in Kalamazoo Gazette from Jan. 26 to Jan. 31, 2021.
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