Richard Defreese ’57

Richard Eugene Defreese went to be with his Lord and Savior on September 2, 2019, at age 84. Dick practiced a humble and steadfast love of Jesus Christ, and was a faithful and loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, son and uncle.

He was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan on February 1, 1935 to the late George and Emma (Appenzeller) Defreese. He married Lois (Weeks) on June 19, 1959 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and they recently celebrated 60 years of marriage. Together they raised four daughters: Marcia (Bob) Volkers, Shelley (Ron) Votto, LeighAnn (Tim) Jarm, and Amy (DJ) Defreese Baxter.

He is survived by his wife Lois, his four daughters, and his 12 grandchildren: Sam, Taylor (Dan), Alec, Cody (Susannah), Shane, Kinsey, Kristiana, Bailey, Sydney, Brooke, Christian and Pranav. He is also survived by his sister Kathy (Jerry) Jamison, his sister-in-law Judy Weeks, and many nieces and nephews.

He attended State High School in Kalamazoo, Hope College, and University of Michigan, where he earned a degree in Industrial Engineering. He subsequently earned a Master’s Degree in Business from Western Michigan University. He worked as an engineer initially at Northern Illinois Gas Company, Reynolds Metals Company, and Bissell, but spent the majority of his career at Steelcase, where he enjoyed 28 years of dedicated service. Dick was an active member of Immanuel Reformed Church in Grand Rapids for many years.

He served faithfully as a deacon and elder. He held a long tenure as coach of the women’s softball team, where he quietly communicated an ethic for sportsmanship and friendly competition. For the past several years he was a member of Thornapple Community Church. Dick was a strong athlete, playing football and baseball in high school and at Hope College. He enjoyed spending time at Lake Michigan with his family, fishing, golf and tennis. He was also a lover of the outdoors. He tended to the wildlife in his backyard, filling the birdfeeder and admiring deer from afar. In retirement, he volunteered his time at Habitat for Humanity and Gerontology Network.

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