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Oscar’s youngest daughter, Donna, shared these memories:

“Pa was a well-respected elder in the Reformed Church. Ma said he kept church business strictly confidential, never discussing anything with others.

“When Ma’s mother, Grandma DeJong, died, we moved in with Grandpa to take care of him. This meant moving from a large house into his much smaller place. Pa applied his carpenter skills to make use of every inch of the unfinished attic to accommodate our family. He was also a good cobbler, able to repair our shoes until we outgrew them.

“I don’t remember any yelling or angry words between (my parents). Disagreements must have  been handled in private.”

One of Nellie’s grandsons remembered:

“Grandpa would rent a cottage at Chippewa or Pickerel Lake, and we would all get to visit for a few days. We’d swim, fish, and do all kinds of fun things.“

A Glimpse of Oscar’s Story

Because Oscar died at a relatively young age, many of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren have few or no memories of himjust some rather stern-looking photographs.

Through these simple recorded words, Oscar’s descendants discover that he was a “real” person, with dreams, disappointments, interests and talents. They get a glimpse of his personality, his character and his faith. As a result, Oscar’s memory lives on.

Auke “Oscar” Tuinstra was the son of Dutch immigrants who settled near Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Oscar supported his wife and six children by working at Steelcase, a metal office furniture factory in Grand Rapids, for 42 years. But there’s more to his story.  

You see, Oscar was a factory worker who loved the outdoors. In 1923, he moved his wife and two children to a 40-acre farm outside of Grand Rapids to pursue his dream of becoming a farmer. He was not successful and eventually moved back to the city to resume his job at the factory.

Oscar didn’t like his job. He called the factory a “squirrel’s cage” and often suffered with migraine headaches. But he faithfully, stoically showed up for work to provide a steady income for his family.  

Because Oscar was an intelligent, hard-working man, he eventually became a foreman. During his last years at the factory, Oscar developed Alzheimer’s Disease. His men respected him so much, they covered for him until his retirement.

Oscar spent the last four years of his life in a care facility before passing away from Alzheimer’s Disease at the relatively young age of 72.  (See Nellie’s Story)

This cast somewhat of a shadow over the family. His children appeared to be on the alert for “signs” of this terrible disease, but they were blessed with longevity, excellent health, and sharp minds.

Oscar’s daughter, Eleanor, shared these memories before she passed away:

“Pa was a hard-working, somewhat rigid, God-fearing Republican. At supper time, after the meal, he would read a chapter from the Bible and pray while we sat quietly and listened. We were not permitted to leave the table until he finished the prayer. I don’t remember him reading with much expression, so it wasn’t very interesting.

“Occasionally, after supper, Pa could be persuaded to get out his harmonica. He also liked to recite poetry.

“During WWII, he volunteered as a Civil Defense person. This meant walking the neighborhood, checking to be sure everyone had their lights out and shades drawn for what was called a “blackout.” This was important in case we had an attack by the enemy.

“He won a loving cup (trophy) one time in a YMCA relay race. I remember him being interested in baseball and boxing. Occasionally he fished. He owned a gun, which was kept in the closet. I don’t remember that he ever shot anything.

“...he really cared about his God, his family and the community.”

His daughter, Marian, shared these comments:

“Pa was a hard worker. He could fix anything that was broken. I thought every man was able to fix things, because my father could.”

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