Henry (Hank) Blanksma at age 92 passed into Jesus’ loving arms on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. He was surrounded by his family and passed peacefully.
Henry was preceded in death by his wife Angie (who passed in 1989), his parents, Emery and Lottie Blanksma, and his younger brothers Robert Blanksma (and his wife Thelma), Emery Blanksma, and Walter Blanksma (and his wife Susan). His brother-in-law David Krebs also preceded him in death.
Henry was born on January 25, 1930. He was raised on a farm in what is now part of the City of Grand Rapids. After his graduation from Ottawa Hills High School, he spent 2 years in the Army during the Korean War era. During that time, he met Angie Bruining, fell in love, and they were married in 1951. He and Angie built a house what is now just two blocks from the original farmhouse where he grew up. He and Angie started a family and thoroughly enjoyed their life together until Angie’s death in 1989. He and Angie were inseparable throughout their time together and loved traveling with their children, Holly and Bruce. He loved his grandchildren Nate and Brad, and was active in their lives as well.
All his nieces and nephews loved Uncle Hank and remember all the Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, and especially the July 4th family get togethers at the Blanksma cottage on Big Brower Lake. He had a speed boat and would take everyone water skiing and tubing on the lake.
Hank was an excellent water skier and could carve a big turn behind the boat.
Hank worked 38 years for the US Postal Service, as a very well-liked supervisor for the Grand Rapids office. Holly remembers the staff threw a party for him because he was so well liked and appreciated by his employees. He retired from the Post office in 1985 and enjoyed his retirement years doing some traveling and spending time with his family. He loved to go on cruises, and went on several with good friends. He did many special cruises with his daughter Holly and his good friends Bev and Jack Maher. He was a life-long member of Plymouth United Church of Christ. He loved the music and he loved to sing and was an active member of the choir for many years. He loved to play cribbage, especially with his brothers. Christmas and Thanksgiving would always include a cribbage match and Hank took no prisoners while playing cribbage!
During the years after his retirement, Hank got to know Ellen Zahed. Ellen became his partner and confident, and he cherished his time with her. Ellen was a great comfort to him, especially in the last couple years. She became his source of support as his health and vitality declined.
After spending many years in the house he built, he made the move to Beacon Hill Senior Living community. He loved living at Beacon Hill. He always said hello to everyone, got to know many residents, helped his neighbors out and became a popular guy at Beacon Hill. He continued his cribbage matches with his Beacon Hill buddies and still kept his “competitive” spirit while playing the game! He talked Ellen into moving into Beacon Hill and they spent lots of time together, even if it was just a short time checking in with each other. They often spent the evenings watching television or enjoying a meal.
Henry is survived by his partner and best friend Ellen Zahed, his daughter Holly Blanksma, and his son Bruce and wife Shelly Blanksma. Also his grandchildren Brad, Nate and wife Brianne, and his great grandchildren Bradon, Trevor and Gavin. He is also survived by his sister Sue Krebs and sister-in-law Sharon Blanksma, and his many nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Henry’s Life will take place on Saturday, April 30, 2022 at 2:00 pm at Beacon Hill Senior Living Community, 1919 Boston St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Faith Hospice, 2100 Raybrook SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506, or to the Spastic Paralegic Foundation INC, 1605 Goularte Place, Fremont, CA 94539-7241 website: sp- foundation.org