Life Story / Obituary
Donald P. "Don" Axce, beloved husband, uncle, and treasured Holland mailman passed away unexpectedly November 23rd, 2020 at home.
Don was the oldest of five children, born February 7, 1954 in Frederick, Maryland to Charles William "Bill" and Alice (Kruse) Axce. Shortly after his birth the young family moved to Trenton, MI where Don was raised along with his three sisters and brother. Don graduated from Trenton High School in 1972 and continued his education at Central Michigan University where he met his best friend and life's love, Deb VanWieren. He started his career at the US Postal Service in Trenton, MI in 1977 and then transferred to the Holland, MI location when he and Debbie married in the fall of 1978. Over the years Don and Deb enjoyed traveling to far away and interesting destinations and spending short but quality chunks of time at their cottage on Bear Lake, MI close to Don's family. He was a member of Harderwyk Ministries where he was involved in the boys Cadet Club for many years. Don was employed by the US Postal Service for 39 years until health reasons forced him to retire. In his early career he had several walking neighborhood routes where he made many personal and lifelong friendships with families. For the last 20 years, he had what he considered the "ultimate" route – Downtown Holland. He loved the vitality of downtown – the people in the retail shops, the business offices and organizations, the residential neighborhoods and portions of Hope College. He enjoyed watching the kids from his former neighborhoods grow up and move to Hope College or work downtown; parents of those children move to condos on his route or The Warm Friend Retirement Community or just shopping downtown; and the business owners and staff who became close friends and much like family. Many have fond memories of the fierce UPS vs US Postal Service 'shorts challenge' in which Don would wear shorts long into the winter months through the rain, sleet and snow! Don was also extremely involved in supporting Deb's family business, VanWieren Hardware. While not directly employed, Don was a steadfast supporter of Debbie – making hundreds of "ham rollups" each Christmas season for the holiday open house, keeping her hydrated during lawncare seminars, coordinating the Boys and Girls Club hotdog lunch during the annual sidewalk sale, spending countless hours running orders and investigating new products at hardware shows in many different cities. Don loved the Holland community and Tulip Time festivities. He attended every one of Debbie's Dutch dance performances for over 40 years. He made many memories and friends with his trusty thermos jug of lemonade for thirsty dancers and anyone else he could share with! One of Don's greatest joys was being an uncle. He was so proud of his 'kids' and loved to stay up to date with their lives and certainly had the most impressive collection of their school/college hooded sweatshirts. Though Don was a fan of all sports – friends and family knew they could always catch him enthusiastically cheering on his beloved Red Wings. He also loved to cheer on the Hope College basketball and volleyball teams with many of the players living on his mail route – often accompanied in the stands by his mom-in-law, Geneva.
Don Axce was proceeded in death by his father, Bill Axce and Father-in-Law, Lester Van Wieren. He leaves behind his best friend and wife of 42 years, Deb VanWieren Axce; mother Alice Axce of Bear Lake, MI; Mother-in-Law Geneva VanWieren of Holland, MI. Sisters and Brother Cathy (John) Walther of Bear Lake, MI; Sue (Mike) Ennis of Bear Lake, MI; Deborah (Chet) Medick of Custer, WI; and Jeff (Robyn) Axce of Charlotte, NC. Sister-In-Laws: Laurie Gemmen of Holland; Joy VanWieren formally of Phoenix, AZ now Holland; and Linda (Vern) DeLange formally of Fremont, MI now Holland. Nieces and Nephews (great nieces and great nephews): Kristen & Jared Redell (Trent, Trey, Blake and Jace); Matt and Stephanie DeLange; Mike Grassmid (Camden); Randy & Lara DeLange; Lesley & Allen Socha (Sawyer and Parker); Kristin & Brian Dudek; Blake & Ruth Walther (Reed and Emilia); Kevin & Bridget Ennis (Genevieve and Madeleine); Sara & Mike Gronski (Quinnley); Stacy & Mark Dehlinger (Corrine and Aaron); Caleb, Abigail, Nathanael, Hannah, Asher, and Elika Axce.
Don and Deb both found joy in giving back to the community who had enriched both their lives. Their first year of marriage they learned of the Community Foundation of Holland/Zeeland which was their first donation of many to come. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Don and Deb (VanWieren) Axce fund through the Community Foundation of Holland/Zeeland - an endowment fund where the earnings support many special projects at area non-profits/schools/churches/etc [cfhz.org] OR Benjamin's Hope, a local nonprofit residential community/farm/worship center/'good stuff happening" place that creates innovative options for adults affected by autism and developmental disabilities - of which Don and Deb have supported since its inception eight years ago [www.benjaminshope.net]. It is their hope both organizations continue to brighten the community they both care so deeply about for many years to come.
Cremation arranged by Dykstra Funeral Homes has already taken place. A private family burial will take place this spring at Lakewood Cemetery.
A Celebration of Life for Don Axce will be planned late summer of 2021.