Richard Spieldenner ’55

Richard Franklin Spieldenner passed to his heavenly home on May 13, 2021. He died peacefully at home in his own bed an hour after returning home from two days in the hospital.

Richard was born May 26, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois to Lewis and Margaret Spieldenner, joining an older brother, Robert, as part of the family. When Richard was in 4th grade they moved to West Lake, Portage, where swimming and riding horseback provided fun years for an adventuresome boy. When Richard was in 9th grade, the family moved to a farm in Hickory Corners where Richard graduated from W.K. Kellogg High School. Next came Hope College in Holland, MI, where he met Elaine (Dearie) Vruggink. They were married in 1956 and have celebrated 64 years of marriage. Their children are Laura (John) Strain of Naperville, Illinois, Lisa (Ed) Schering of Kalamazoo and Roger (Denise) Spieldenner of Scotts. They were blessed with seven grandchildren: Kelly Strain, Alison Madigan (Patrick); Mary Alphenaar (Charles), Sylvia Livingston (Greg), Ted Schering; Benjamin and Bradley Spieldenner (fiance Olivia Welch), and great-grandchildren: Macey, Elaina, Jonathan Alphenaar and baby girl Livingston expected soon.

Richard was so very proud of the children and grandchildren. He and Elaine spent many hours cheering them on at sport, school and church activities. They attended a granddaughter’s wedding in Illinois a month ago where he danced with the bride. Richard earned his Master’s Degree from Western Michigan University. He taught at Vicksburg Middle School for 37 years. He was a creative and dedicated teacher, who spent many a night pouring over student papers. He had a lighter side and was known to have turned cartwheels at student roller skating parties. “To teach is to touch a life forever” and Richard touched many lives.

Richard had a great sense of humor. He loved to converse and tell stories-to family, to co-workers, to friends, to people in the grocery store waiting lines. He spent many hours on his flowers and lawn, having a running battle with dandelions. The family went on many summer camping trips. Richard and Elaine traveled to all fifty states (always visiting historical spots and state capitals) as well as trips to Europe, Scandinavia and The Caribbean Islands.

Richard was a charter member of Lakeland Reformed Church, Vicksburg. He had served on the church council, taught Sunday School, and was a faithful member for 62 years.

Richard is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, in-laws: Darle and Shirley Vander Schuur, Mel and Gloria Drew, Don and Jan Vruggink of Hudsonville, many dear nephews, nieces, and friends. He was preceded in death by parents, brother Robert and sister-in-law, Joan, in-laws Junior and Ethel Vruggink, Nelson and Florraine Stegeman, nephew Mathew Drew, niece Susie Vruggink.

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