Life Story / Obituary
With a journey that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, Kenneth Makin lived a life of purpose while holding his loved ones near. He was a hardworking man who did whatever was needed to provide for the family he treasured most. A loving husband and dedicated father, Ken was thrilled to become a grandfather and a great-grandfather later in life. Although life was not always easy for him, Ken faced whatever came his way with strength and a positive outlook. He will be deeply missed by all who were blessed to know and love him.
It was great to be an American during the decade that we commonly recall as the Roaring Twenties. Cars being mass produced on assembly lines made them more affordable while Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh took the world of flight to new heights. Jazz music and ballroom dancing were hot, and it was during this time that motion pictures came to life with both color and sound. Amidst this exciting time was a time of great joy in the lives of John and Erma Makin as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Kenneth on March 27, 1926, in Grand Haven, Michigan. He was the youngest of nine children in the Makin clan as he was joined in his family by his siblings, John, Harry, Bill, Chet, Henry, Fritz, Marge, and Viola. To support their family, Ken’s father worked at the tannery while his mother had more than enough to keep her busy at home.
Raised in the family home on Washington Avenue near the Grand River, Ken experienced a fairly typical childhood for the youth of his generation. He played baseball and loved going to see the Tigers play in Detroit. As a family they attended St. John’s Lutheran Church where Ken was confirmed, and he was always very close to his brothers, Harry, Chet, and John. As a teen he learned to play the accordion by ear, and he continued playing for the rest of his life.
After high school, Ken was eager for all that life had in store. He had several factory jobs and also worked as a traveling salesman for TRW Automotive for a time. Ken got into riding motorcycles at this time, and his brothers rode, too. Ken owned his own Indian and Harley-Davidson, and he participated in the Motor Cycle Hill Climb at Mt Garfield in Muskegon several times.
Ken’s love for motorcycles proved to be quite fateful as it was at the Muskegon Motorcycle Club that he met the woman of his dreams. Her name was Harriet Stygstra, and they started dating not long after they met. Because she was seven years younger than Ken, her family was not very approving at first, but he eventually won them over. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Ken and Harriet were married on November 10, 1956, at St. John’s Lutheran. They initially settled into an apartment on Lafayette and Lakeshore for a short time and eventually into their home on 160th in Grand Haven Township. This is where they spent the rest of their lives and raised their five children including Hope who was born in 1957, Kenneth in 1959, Linda in 1960, Suzanne in 1964, and Faith in 1970. Ken found work on the production line at Oldbergs, which later became AP Parts. He spent 25 years there until it closed and then went to work as a security guard for Burns Security, working there until he was 81 years old after 25 years of dedicated service.
Throughout his life Ken was one to keep busy. Faith was an important part of his life, and church was a regular part of their family life. For a time they attended St. John’s Lutheran where Ken served as an elder. They later switched to Bethel Baptist in Fruitport, and several of the children attended school there as well. Ken later attended Lakeshore Baptist Church in Grand Haven, which was closer to his home, As a family they liked going on picnics at Riverside Park, going to the Sparta Rodeo and the Ionia Free fair, and going horseback riding. There was also a memorable family vacation to Cedar Point, and who could forget their terrible vacation to the Upper Peninsula where they had a flat tire in the rain and all sorts of bugs! Ken was very dedicated to his family and worked hard to provide a comfortable life for his family and also send his kids to private school. During the fall he earned extra “Christmas money” working on baling Christmas trees at Dan Glick’s tree farm. Although back issues forced him to give up motorcycles, he continued to do many of the things he loved. Ken played the accordion for fun on the weekends, and he loved polka music. He frequently listened to the polka shows on the radio, and he also liked listening to the Grand Ole Opry. Ken had the time of his life when he and Harriet went to see the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. There were always a pet or two around including dogs, cats, a goat, a duck, and a pet crow among many others. For years Ken and his wife enjoyed gardening together. He was more social and outgoing while Harriet was the more quiet and reserved one.
Later in life, Ken continued making the most of the days he was given. He loved becoming a grandfather, and he was active in the lives of his grandchildren. Ken was there for all their sports and activities, and he loved babysitting whenever he could. Of course he spoiled them by letting them build tent cities with blankets and sheets on the clothesline outside. Ken also liked to sneak them candy treats and let them drink his cream soda. In 2012 he was deeply saddened with the death of his beloved wife, but he was able to continue living in his home because his daughters, Linda and Hope, moved in with him as he dealt with Parkinson’s disease. A lifelong Detroit Tigers fan, Ken was able to keep up with the team and knew all the players and their statistics.
With unending love for his family, Kenneth Makin was an extraordinary man to know and love. He was never one to let life get the best of him, and his unwavering faith was the compass he used to direct his steps. Ken was the sort of person others knew they could count on, and he was known for helping others in ways both great and small. Life will never be the same without him here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
Kenneth Makin, passed away Tuesday, October 10, 2017. Ken’s family includes his children, Hope Makin of Grand Haven, Kenneth (Annette) Makin of Grand Haven, Linda Norton of Grand Haven, Suzanne Makin of Florida, Faith (Tom) Stephens of Washington; grandchildren, Amber Crutcher, Brian Makin, Kimberly Cleveland, Debbie Powell, Sheila Klomparens, Ryan Norton, Keith Norton, Devon Lynch, Kyle Stephens; 4 great-grandchildren. Ken was preceded in death by his wife in 2012; brothers & sisters. Services will be held on Monday, October 16, 2017, 11:00 a.m. with visitation one hour prior at Lakeshore Baptist Church with Rev. Wayne Muri officiating. Interment in Lakeshore Cemetery.