Friday, January 13, 2023
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EST
325 104th Avenue
Holland, MI 49423
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Immanuel Church Memorial Fund
325 104th Avenue
Holland, MI 49423
Life Story / Obituary
THE LIFE STORY OF DONALD H. BRINK
11/6/1930 - 1/9/2023
Donald H. Brink, 92, was the first born of Henry E and Helene (Woordhuis) Brink at home in Fillmore, MI. He grew up helping the family on the small dairy farm, plowing the fields with their horses (Bill and Prince). Since it was during the Depression and WWII money was tight and he often sold eggs door to door in Holland to raise money for the family. Don’s dad was the first in the neighborhood to get a tractor and waited a few months for the steel lug wheels to arrive.
During his high school years there was no time for sports or extra activities. But in his junior year he realized he could go to the games (free) if he was in the pep band. With that in mind, he went to Meyer Music Store to buy a trombone. Fred Meyer said a saxophone would be better for him and he showed him a shiny new one. Not having any money Mr. Meyer let him charge it. He hurried home to show his mother but when she saw that he had charged it she said, “how do you ever expect to pay for this ($287.00)? You get in the barn!” and he got a spanking he never forgot and the rest is history. Don paid for the sax by gathering scrap iron along the railroad tracks and from farmers and taking it to Louis Padnos and Holland Home Furnace and his mother always had the biggest grin when she would hear him play.
Following graduation from Holland High School in 1949, Don began driving truck for Van’s Super Market and/or working at Brewer’s City Coal Dock. During his basic training at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, CO he found a Baptist church and began playing his saxophone on their Saturday night live radio broadcast. Soon he was sent to the Atlanta area for mechanic training where he spent 3 months. During his Christmas furlough he and Clara Rabbers were married on Dec. 27, 1951. The snow was so deep that they had to call the county to open up the road so he could get to the church.
Soon after returning to Camp Carson, he was deployed to report to Korea (country he had never heard of) but just following the news of 10,000 troops being lost in one battle. He spent 11+ months in the artillery where he quickly earned the rank of Motor Sergeant. His common sense ingenuity earned him many commendations and respect. God spared his life many times coming home without a physical scratch but many memories experiencing PTSD in his latter years.
Within a very short time after returning home, he was approached by board members of Immanuel Church to become the leader of the youth work. He and Clara spent the next 25 years leading youth meetings, youth choir, singspirations, many parties, and began what we know as the Winter Retreats. The first retreat was held in Yankee Springs in 1953. Many lives were changed as kids were born again and/or recommitted their lives to the Lord.
Don also became the leader of the Boys Brigade Battalion group. These were teenage boys and he loved this involvement in their lives. He started a basketball team where boys from outside Immanuel joined. These teams competed with other teams in Michigan, the tri-state area ending up in the championship playoffs held at Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL. These teams never lost a game and were the pride of his life.
Don also became the director of Holland Youth for Christ which was a highlight for him. He emceed a weekly live broadcast from the Teen Center on 9th St., developed the music program with an ensemble, trios, soloist and had the vision of sending teams to Puerto Rico on mission trips one in 1965 and one in 1966 when Clara and Jackie were able to join him. The souls that were redeemed will be in eternity and many of the young people went on into full time service for the Lord.
Don loved working with construction equipment and worked for many in the area before forming Brink and Rabbers with his brother-in-law Jim. They did prep work for many of the subdivisions in Holland and to this day can tell you what soil is in the area. He eventually started Don Brink Construction and was known as one of the best cable crane operators in west Michigan. Some of his trophies are erecting the windmill-on-Windmill Island, the field house dome of Holland High School, making way for Hope College in demolition of the houses around campus, many water and sewage plants and more. In 1966 he began traveling for a national auction firm setting up auctions in major cities around the nation leaving every Sunday/Monday to go somewhere and returning on Thursday/Friday. In 1976 he with some other men in the area formed Hamilton Auction Company, Inc and began doing industrial and commercial auctions in the eastern half of the United States. He developed a professionalism in preparing and conducting an auction and was the first to use computers. This soon set the standard for auctions, and we still have people talked about it today. In later years, he bought and sold equipment locally until he was forced to retired following a stroke in 2008.
Don and Clara had 4 children with their firstborn, Michael, passing away a few days after birth. In 1966 he moved his family (Jackie, Edwin, and Phil) to a small 40 acre “farm” south of Holland. He loved the farm and put his kids to work baling hay every summer. He also loved horses and had many of the years which included two teams of draft horses. He had sleighs, wagon, carriages, and all doing MANY hayrides for years. Every youth group in the area enjoyed his hayrides.
At the age of 10, Don accepted the Lord as his Saviour and Lord. He never forgot nor wavered from this decision. He was strong and everyone knew where he stood. This was as true on the front line in Korea as it was in his daily life. He loved to tell people “That he was born twice in the same house”. If they did not understand that he had a “good candidate”. Always witnessing and telling others.
After Clara’s death in 1986, he married Karen Wennell in 1987 and their music ministry began to take form. Don playing the saxophone and Karen the piano, they were privileged to present Christ through their music in many venues. Don and Karen joined the Gideons International in 1992 and this gave them (Don especially) another platform for witnessing. Confined to his wheelchair in the latter years, he could be found in parking lots (while Karen was shopping) or many other places handing a copy of God’s Word to people everywhere. Probably surpassing 500 in the last few years. Their music took them to seven different countries. God given opportunities that neither one of them ever even imagined would happen.
Don suffered a stroke in May of 2008 causing him to lose his left field of vision and weakness on his left side. This meant he could no longer drive or read and eventually only walk with the use of a walker or his beloved wheelchair. These days were long, and he often felt useless and yet the Lord gave him the ability to continue playing his saxophone and played publicly at a singspiration at Immanuel. His tone was strong, and his famous vibrato was still there. He played for his family on our Christmas (1/1) and his “golden saxophone” will forever be in our memories.
Don leaves a legacy and heritage that will remain in the hearts and lives of many including his family. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Karen, his daughter, Jackie Hannahs (Lorren) and his son, Phil (Tami). His grandchildren Angeline Williams, Elden Brink (Grace), Larina Checony (Jean-Francois), Caleb Brink (Brittany), Lance Brink (Lydia), Elizabeth Boersma (Nate), Katherine Wells (Cameron), Richelle Patrick (Grant), Micah Brink (Sarah), Dakota Brink (Nsofwa) and Farrah Brink. Extended family Greg and Angela Kaminski, Levi Kaminski (Kayleigh), Eva and Elsie Kaminski. Eleven great-grandchildren with 4 on the way. Sisters Carolyn Black (Bill), Marolyn Ford, sister-in-law Carol and many nieces and nephews.
He was proceeded in death by his parents, Clara (wife of 34 years), infant son Michael, son Edwin, great grandson, Merek. His brothers Richard, Victor, and Roger, sister Virginia and brother-in-law Acie Ford.
The last 14+ years have been hard, but Don never stopped telling others about the Lord even in his last days in the hospital. His desire for you would be that you tell others about the wonderful gift of salvation and please, be sure that you have been born again and are ready to join him in the heaven where we are finally “home” with our Savior and Lord.
Funeral and military honors will be 11 am Saturday (January 14) at Immanuel Church, 325 104th Ave. Burial will be in East Saugatuck Cemetery. Visitation is 5-8 pm Friday (January 13) also at the church.
Memorial contributions may be made to Gideon’s International or Immanuel Church Memorial Fund.
Arrangements are by the Dykstra Funeral Home-Mulder Chapel.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NKJV