Donald R. Van Fleteren, 90, of Big Rapids, passed away Sunday, March 10, 2019, at Spectrum Health Blodgett in Grand Rapids.
He was born August 9, 1928, in Detroit, MI, the son of Hank and Martha (Bakelandt) Van Fleteren. He was a firefighter in Detroit for ten years, proudly serving his community. Don was a passionate body builder and was Mr. Michigan for two years running, as well as 3rd runner-up Mr. Universe. He had many weightlifting friends that looked up to him for his drive, calling him an inspiration. Even after being on the cover of many health and fitness magazines, Don remained a humble man throughout his life. He was a deeply spiritual man, and shared a strong faith with his wife, Joan. Don certainly didn’t lack any when it came to having a sense of humor. Most people didn’t know when he was joking or being serious.
Don’s never ending wisdom and loving nature will be greatly missed by his wife of 32 years, Joan (Bow) Van Fleteren; daughter, Christa (Dan) Abitz; five step-daughters, Theresa (John Nicastro Jr.) Gautreau of Big Rapids, Robin Adkins of Big Rapids, Sonya (Dan) Morgan of Big Rapids, Kimberly (Gary) Buckner of Knoxville, TN, and Shannon McWilliams of Louisville, KY; 17 grandchildren; 28 great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, his son, Kurt Van Fleteren, and brother, Hank Van Fleteren.
Don’s family would like to extend an invitation to friends and family to join them in a life celebration from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, 2019 at Don’s home.