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Obituaries » Benjamin L. Douma

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September 25, 1941 - April 29, 2023

A casual-dress gathering in memory of Ben will take place in the Fireside Room at Centerpoint Church, 2345 10th Street North, Kalamazoo, on Sunday, May 21, 2023, with food and fellowship from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and a service at 6:00 p.m. The family welcomes donations in Ben’s honor to Reach the Forgotten Jail Ministry.

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Benjamin Lee Douma passed away quietly on April 29, 2023, with his wife and family by his side.

Ben was born in Cutlerville, Michigan, to Ben and Dora (Miedema) Douma on September 25, 1941. He served four years in the US Army Reserves before marrying Marilyn VanDeRiet in Cutlerville in 1967. The two settled near Plainwell and Ben began his 27 years as a tool and die maker for General Motors at the Fisher Body plant.

Ben was most at home in the outdoors–gardening, cutting wood, hiking, and traveling with his family. Those who hiked with him were amazed by his extensive knowledge of trees, wildflowers, and other aspects of nature. He and Marilyn traveled extensively throughout the US and especially northern Michigan, favoring hikes that led to waterfalls or views of the Great Lakes. They often traveled with Ben’s sister-in-law, Judy, and her husband, Walt.

Ben and Marilyn lived most of their empty-nest years in a log home with a soapstone woodstove in front of a large rock wall that Ben constructed with rocks he’d gathered from friends’ properties and travel destinations over the years.

Ben was a man of few words, but those few words were wise, insightful, and encouraging. He enjoyed creating spaces in which people could learn, create, and laugh. He coordinated canoe trips, established a building/exploration club for young men, and hosted an annual family cider-making day for almost 30 years.

Ben was humbly dedicated to his faith and was an active member of Twin Lakes Reformed Church and then Centerpoint Church. He volunteered in jail ministries, youth mentor programs, and consistory.

Ben was preceded in death by his parents, Ben and Dora, and sisters, Berdina (Marlin) Mohr, Josephine (John) Buys. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn; brother, Harvey (LaReta); sister, Loretta (Pete) VanDyke; daughter, Crystal (Dan) Dexter; son Lee (Stephanie) Douma; “adopted” son and daughter Lewis and Denise Siegel; grandchildren Evan (Lauren) Dexter, Seth (Morgan) Dexter, Luke Dexter, Grace Dexter, Ben (Rachel) Douma, Molly Douma, and Sam Douma.