Vernon Houting ’49

Vernon Wayne Houting, 100, died Thursday, December 21, at his home in Holland. He had just celebrated his one-hundredth birthday, having been born in his parents’ home on December 17, 1923, to Murvel and Susanna Houting. In those days, he recollected, families would call in “a woman from the neighborhood” to help with the birth and would pay her $5. “For an extra $5,” he said, “ you could have your baby boy circumcised, but not many people were willing to shell out the extra cash.”
A lifelong resident of Holland, Vern attended Van Raalte Elementary, E.E. Fell Junior High, and graduated from Holland High School in 1941. As a teenager and young man, he played the trombone in school and VFW bands, and was still the proud owner of his original trombone. Vern was an Army veteran of World War II, where he learned to fly. As a young man, he enjoyed airplanes, boats, and cars, especially convertibles. In fact, his wife, Leona, said she was first attracted to Vern “ because he was a good-looking guy and drove a convertible.”

In 1950, Vern married Leona Pathuis, and he and Leona owned and operated the Maplewood Dry Cleaners for seven decades. They raised six children. Vern was a lifelong member of Trinity Reformed Church, having been baptized there as an infant. Over the years, he served as both deacon and elder in the church. His hobbies included woodworking and, especially, photography; he even built a darkroom in his basement, where he spent many hours developing photos he had taken. In his late nineties, Vern enjoyed riding his exercise bike for 15 minutes every day, and amazed the hospice nurses, who found him pedaling away at the age of 99.

Modest and humble, Vern was also a faithful man who had learned the art of being content in all circumstances. When macular degeneration began to take away his eyesight, he willingly gave up driving. When he could no longer read, he listened to audiobooks. When he retired from working in the dry cleaners (in his early nineties), he worked in his yard, and could often be seen driving his riding lawnmower around the yard or down on his knees pulling weeds.

One of his favorite Bible passages was Psalm 23: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Vern is survived by his children: Mary ’73 and Jacob Kim, Tom and Lynette Houting, Tim Houting, Dan Houting and Lynda Fry, Jane ’88 and Mike Grennes, and John ’88 and Penny Houting; by his sister, Marlene Veele, and sister-in-law, Marilyn Houting; and by many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife of 70 years, Leona; his parents; and his sister, Doris Schaftenaar, and brother, Keith Houting.

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