Deeply committed to his family and faith, Bill Oldenkamp’s life will be remembered as both loving and selfless. Equipped with a strong work ethic as well as an ability to work alongside a wide variety of people over the years, led to many successes throughout his life. Although he will be deeply missed, Bill leaves behind a rich collection of wonderful memories for all who knew and loved him.
Despite the Thirties being marked by tough economic times, the decade also saw an expansion of new technologies. By 1937 Amelia Earhart took off from Miami attempting to achieve a flight around the world and California’s Gold Gate Bridge was completed. Bringing great joy to their world, John Oldenkamp and Anne Bakker welcomed home their newborn son, William Henry, on August 14th. Born the fourth of six children, his birth brought them many promises in an ever-changing world.
Growing up on the rural family farm, Bill had a sense of hard work from a young age. He was known to milk the cows and work on the thresher, a machine that separates the grain from the seed. Being Dutch, the whole Oldenkamp clan would have a family reunion every three years in Michigan, Oregon, South Dakota, and California. South Dakota was the homestead and the family still owns property out there. His parents instilled in him the value of family and he made many happy memories spending time with them over the years. He met his high school sweetheart and first love, Gloria Zarbock, during his senior trip. After graduating with the Class of 1955 from Rockford High School, he enlisted in the United States Army. He was later released to the Army Reserve a year later and served in the reserves for another eight years. He and Gloria were married on April 25, 1959 and raised two wonderful children, Edward and Diane.
As a father, he taught his children to know the difference between right and wrong. Laid back and even tempered, he wanted nothing but the very best for them. He was known to work an eight-hour day at Michigan Bell and pursue his true passion: working on the family farm after clocking out. William worked tirelessly to provide for their every need, but never complained. Starting out at General Telephone in Allegan, he was later transferred down to Kalamazoo where he worked for a remarkable thirty years for Michigan Bell through its various changes to Ameritech and later AT&T. Bill enjoyed working hard and would always leave time to take a family trip each and every summer. The family always had a family dog and enjoyed countless special memories together. They were active in Lakeland Reformed Church over the years as faith was important to both he and Gloria. Bill modeled the ability to give back to his community and help others in need. His children will always remember him as a person who would give the shirt off his back to anyone without question.
Sadly, after fifty wonderful years with Gloria, she passed away in 2009. They were just getting accustomed to their retirement life of traveling and spending time with their sweet grandchildren. On January 24, 2016, he married Joann Riley, a wonderful companion he met on the online site Christian Mingle. Sharing many common interests, he and Joann enjoyed spending their winters in beautiful Venice, Florida. After marrying they split their time between the farm in Vicksburg and a lake house on Corey Lake in Three Rivers. They loved any amount of time they were on the water or surrounded by their loved ones.
In addition to his life’s work of farming and working for the telephone company, Bill held many special pastimes. An avid hunter, he enjoyed each turkey and deer hunting season. He also loved to fish. A proud member of the church, he served on the church board for many years. He also enjoyed several mission trips. Never one to remain idle, he volunteered with Habitat for Humanity during his time in Florida. Bill was an active farm bureau member and enjoyed meeting with the retirees of Michigan Bell/AT&T every other month for breakfast. He looked forward to sharing stories and catching up on a wide variety of topics. Bill and Gloria joined the Lakeland Reformed church in the late 60s, yet loved his time at New Hope Assembly in Three Rivers in recent years. He found great satisfaction in being of service to so many over the years.
When it came time for relaxing, Bill enjoyed his 4 o'clock coffee and time with his grandchildren. He was blessed with Meagan and Derrick Oldenkamp, Kristen (Brian) Brueck, and Lauren Mezo; as well as one very special great-granddaughter, Hayden Brueck. Joann had two grown children, Randy, Marel, and Brad, who preceded Bill in his passing. Bill accepted them into his heart and treated them special. He also enjoyed his six step-grandchildren; Jim Riley, Drew Riley, Diane Dempsey, April McKeown, Angela Riley, and Jaime Wright and thirteen step-great-grandchildren. Bill was always comfortable in his own skin as well as his blue jeans, flannel shirts, and ball caps! Bill was an incredible fun-loving and joyful person. He modeled a life lived to the fullest. May his loved ones never doubt how much love he held in his heart for each of them and may they honor his memory through continuing to strengthen their faith as well as the bond they have for one another.
In accordance with the family's wishes a public visitation will be held on Thursday, May 27, 2021 from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at McCowen & Secord Family Funeral Homes Rupert-Durham Chapel, 409 S. Main Street, Vicksburg, MI 49097. 269-649-1697. A funeral service will be held on Friday, May 28, 2021 with an hour of visiting beginning at 10:00 a.m. until time of service at 11:00 a.m. at Lakeland Reformed Church, 10442 S. Sprinkle Road, Vicksburg, MI 49097. A private internment will be held following the service.
In lieu of flowers the family has asked that any memorial contributions to be directed to The Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, The American Cancer Society, or the Lakeland Reformed Church.
While visiting William's tribute page please take a moment to light a candle or share a memory with the family. The Oldenkamp family is being assisted by McCowen & Secord Family Funeral Homes Rupert-Durham Chapel, 409 S. Main Street, Vicksburg, MI 49097. 269-679-1697.