John Rookus Jr. ’53

John Rookus, age 92, passed peacefully at his home in Moline, surrounded by family, December 9, 2023. He was born in Zeeland, Michigan January 17, 1931, the son of Elizabeth (Betty) Rookus. He was raised in Zeeland, alongside his grandparents, John and Kate Rookus, and many loving uncles and aunts. In high school and throughout college, he worked on a local farm for two dear friends, Bill DeJong and Simon Vander Lyster. As a young boy, he accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, and spent his life sharing that good news through teaching Sunday school and as a Gideon, handing out over 2,000 small New Testaments in Mexico alone.

He was preceded in death by his parents Elizabeth and Menno Dykstra, and his daughter (at birth), Deborah Jo Rookus. He is survived by his dear wife of 67 years, Joyce (Alverson) Rookus; sons Tim and Pam Rookus, Mark and Sandi Rookus, Steve and Carolyn Rookus, Tom and Rhonda Rookus; and daughter, Mark and Kathryn (Rookus) Chesebro. Also, by his sister, Mary and Bruce Athearn; and brother- and sisters-in-law John and Nancy (Alverson) Riley, Jean Alverson, and Joe and Linda Alverson.

John was so grateful and proud that his family consisted of 103 people, which includes his 25 grandchildren, 44 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild. In addition, there were many friends from Mexico who have also called him Grandpa.

During his college years while at Spring Arbor College, his schooling was interrupted when he started having blackout seizures. As a result, he dropped out of college and moved back home to Zeeland. He started learning to build homes with his Uncle George Schout, and soon after, he was healed of his seizures and able to resume his education at Hope College, seeking a teaching degree. While finishing his teaching degree and throughout his teaching career, he continued to construct homes. For the next 65 years, he built over 150 homes during the summer months while on school breaks. Through his construction and real estate holdings, he was able to generously help many people live in an affordable home.

His teaching career started at Moline Elementary as principal/teacher for ten years, and then he moved into the middle school guidance counselor position in Wayland. His final few years of teaching were as an English teacher at Wayland High School. He completed his teaching career when his youngest child, Kathy, graduated. He was so proud to see all five of his children graduate from Wayland Union Schools.

Outside of his career and construction work, he was deeply involved in Moline Baptist Church, missions, traveling, and spending time with his family. He was known for his sense of humor and quick laughter, and loved to share stories that made people laugh.

Return to Current In Memoriam