Mr. Harold Gene Stelma, age 91, fell peacefully asleep on Earth September 21, 2011, and awoke joyously in Heaven to begin a new life with his Lord and Savior. He was reunited with his wife of 64 years and best friend, Marion; his eldest son, Gordon; his parents, Anna and Gerard Stelma; his brother and sister-in-law, Lester and Betty Stelma; and his daughter-in-law, Sue Stelma, all who preceded him on his journey to Heaven.

Harold accepted Christ as his Savior in 1940 and lived his remaining 70 years in faith and preparation for that moment. Throughout those years, his faithful Lord enabled Harold to be a loyal friend, a successful businessman, a faithful husband and a loving father to his children, Mary Jo (Dale) Rust, Lawrence (Iris) Stelma, Patti (Ted) Venti, Doug (Sue, deceased) Stelma; and a GREAT grandpa to 14 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.

Harold viewed each day as a gift from God and devoted himself to serving his Lord and his family. He returned to his home in Grandville after serving in the Army during WWII where he and his wife Marion began to raise a family. He soon found himself in the retail grocery business and bought a neighborhood grocery store in Rockford. After 30 years in the grocery business, he went into the insurance business for another 30-year career. During two 30-year careers, he also found time to be one of the original volunteer emergency paramedics when Rockford Ambulance was established, to be one of the founding partners in the Old Mill, and for the last 30 years, he and his family have raised and sold Christmas trees, encouraging family togetherness both in the operation of the farm and for the many families coming to the farm to purchase trees.

He was an active member of Calvary Church for 60 years and served in numerous capacities. His passion for people, especially children, is an example for all. Family and family activities were his joy here on Earth. He especially loved boating and teaching his children and grandchildren to enjoy the water and to water ski. Whether he was attending a school program, a ball game, hunting, fishing or camping, he was happiest when his family surrounded him, and he could exemplify Christ to all.

We are thankful for the example of our Earthly father which our Heavenly Father provided, and he will be dearly missed by all who knew him. Harold wishes to thank his wonderful caregivers at Sunrise Assisted Living, Clark Retirement Home, who so faithfully met his needs, to the special girls at Young Insurance, and to Natalia for all the conversation, afternoon rides and ice cream cones.

The service to celebrate Mr. Stelma’s faith and life was Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at Calvary Church Sanctuary, 707 E. Beltline, Grand Rapids, with Pastor Tom Couch officiating. Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider Mel Trotter Ministries, 225 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

Arrangements were made by Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford.

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The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.