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Life Story / Obituary
Perhaps it was the way he gave his love so freely to those who meant the most to him, or the way in which he lived through the perils of the Great Depression and wars that followed. In any event, Art Smeenge was a delightful, kind man to know and love. A true blessing, Art’s warm hearted ways and giving nature made everyone feel special. Talented in many respects, Art was a gentleman, and Godly man who lived by quiet faith. Although he will be dearly missed, fond thoughts and memories of him will abound in the lives of those he touched with ways all his own.
Marked by a time of prosperity, the Roaring Twenties emerged as a decade of economic windfall rich with optimism and innovation in the U.S. The stock market soared and people everywhere were brimming with hope. Yet nestled in the small, primarily Dutch community of Holland, Michigan along the shores of Lake Michigan, Thomas and Tracy (Mooi) Smeenge were delighted to welcome the birth of their son, Arthur, born on January 19, 1927.
The second of eventually four children in the Smeenge household, Art grew up alongside his siblings, Harold, Ruth, and Roger in a faith filled home where he enjoyed the adventures of childhood. Even as the Great Depression cast a shadow of economic hardship the world over, young Art and his family made the necessary sacrifices like many during these trying times. Art attended the local schools enjoying the friendships of many. Church life played an important role in his life as well as witnessing the hard work ethic found in his parent’s example. His father worked for Mooi Roofing until a fall left him disabled.
During Art’s formative years, the perils of World War II found those back home in the states doing much for the war effort. Although seemingly removed in his small, hometown of Holland, news of the day kept all abreast of the situation overseas. Sadly, it was during World War II when Art and his family tragically lost one of their beloved sons and brother in the war. Due to being blind in one eye, even if Art wanted to serve one day just as his older brother had, he would be declined. Art went to school through the sixth grade when he left his schooling behind to help support his family following his father’s accident.
From an early age, Art had a great love for woodworking. It was through this love for woodworking which led him to a job working at Northernwood in 1943. With nearby Grand Rapids, Michigan in the heyday of being known as “furniture city”, Art was a shoe-in for the industry. However, in 1949, Art had the opportunity to open a grocery. He did so with the help of his father, and they called it, “Smeenge Groceries” located on Tenth and Maple Streets in Holland. Art owned and operated the store for 13 years until eventually returning to his love of woodworking. At this time he began working for West Michigan Furniture where his expertise, skill and talent were well received.
When Art’s parents took ill, he sacrificed much to love and care for them, and he would not have wanted it any other way. Even though he never married or had children of his own, his nieces and nephews filled his heart with unending love. He treated them as if they were his own, and in turn they came to greatly respect their Uncle Artie. They always looked to him for advice and direction. Art was a numbers man and they were simply amazed by his literal, calculating mind. Well into his later years, Art knew exactly how much his grocery bill should be plus tax minus his never ending supply of coupons. Inevitably, he was always within a few pennies! Always amazed by this ability, Art was the go-to person in the family to help with balancing checkbooks and sure to find that missing dime!
A man of habit, Art loved his “tea time”. Every Sunday afternoon at three o’clock sharp, Art relished in his favorite time with family visits. Tea time was a time to be together and go over the past week’s events and to check-in with one another. It was always Lipton’s black tea as Art would have nothing to do with green tea, “that cheap stuff” as he called it! Tea time also included Windmill, Chips Ahoy or Oreo cookies, and if they weren’t eaten, no matter how many weeks went by, they were there waiting for them, already opened and no less stale the following week! In his younger years, Art had a penchant for cars and he liked playing a good game of pool.
Art loved the Sunday newspaper loaded with ads and coupons. Even though he’d allow others to look at the Meijer ad, he needed to refer back to see if his beloved TV dinners were on sale that week, ten for ten dollars! Every Friday night, Art’s brother and sister-in-law took him grocery shopping, and with coupons in hand, Art would seek out his week’s worth of groceries. Even as he lay weak and near his last breath, Art was asking about going to the store. They’d always stop first at Burger King for a quick bite to eat beforehand, and as always, Art would get his free senior coffee and order a simple hamburger because he didn’t like paying extra for the cheese!
Although Art was a little on the frugal side, he freely gave of his time to those that meant the most to him. Family was his greatest joy, and in Art they found a man of integrity with honest devotion and much dedication. He gave much to those he loved so dearly over the years, yet his greatest gift was love. Art often had a life lesson or two to share and a story behind it. These remain precious as they will be treasured and passed down for years to come. As a charter member of Bethel Reformed Church, Art’s quiet faith and love for his Lord was evident in all he said and did. Forever missed and loved, Art truly leaves a legacy of a life well lived, and loved.
Arthur Smeenge, age 90 of Holland, passed away Friday, August 4, 2017, at Vista Springs. He is preceded in death by his brother, Harold Smeenge (WWII); sister and brother-in-law, Eleanor "Ruth" (Richard D.) Hansen; sister-in-law, Mary Ellen Smeenge; great-great-nephew, Brody Petre. Arthur is survived by brother, Roger Smeenge; his nieces, Carol (Lynn) Petre, Linda (Jeff) Rietman, Peggy (Rick) Berens, Rhonda (Mike) Annable; nephew, Randy (Michelle) Smeenge; nine great-nieces and nephews; eight great-great nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be Monday, August 7 from 6-8 PM at Dykstra Funeral Home–Northwood Chapel, 295 Douglas Avenue, Holland. The funeral service for Arthur will be Tuesday, August 8, 1:00 PM at the funeral home. Memorials in Art’s memory may be directed to Hospice of Holland or to the American Cancer Society-W. Michigan Area Service Center. To share a favorite memory or photo of Art and to sign his online guest book, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.