Kenneth “Ken” Mellema, age 77 of Rock Rapids, IA died Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at his residence in Rock Rapids, IA.
Funeral service will be 2:30 p.m. Saturday, January 25th at First Reformed Church in Rock Rapids, IA, with Rev. Dan Haggar officiating. Burial will follow at Riverview Cemetery at Rock Rapids, IA.
Visitation will be Friday, January 24th from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. with family present from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at First Reformed Church of Rock Rapids.
Jurrens Funeral Home of Rock Rapids is in charge of services.
For a complete obituary and online registry please visit jurrensfuneralhome.com
Ken Mellema, son of Peter and Johanna (Schenk) Mellema was born on February 11, 1936, at their family home, 4 miles northeast of Rock Rapids, IA. It was the time of the 1936 blizzard, and the doctor was unable to arrive until (2) days after his birth, so his father delivered him. He spent his childhood and youth on the farm, attending country school and high school in Rock Rapids. His military service was a (6) year obligation from 1958 to 1964. His active duty days were spent at Fort Leonard Wood, MO., Fort Carson, CO., and Fort Riley, KS. He attained the rank of Sergeant, finishing as an SP5 Communication Specialist. Ken believed in education and was a constant source of information for his family. He was blessed with an excellent math mind, and so he attended and graduated from Nettleton Business College with a degree in business and accounting.
On November 22, 1962, he was united in marriage to Marlene Star at the Christian Reformed Church in Corsica, SD. Ken and Marlene were blessed with (3) treasured daughters: Cindy, Carrie, and Julie. They lived on the farm from 1963 – 1986, and enjoyed farm life. Every part of their farm life was done as a family; even 4-H garden and livestock projects, and walking or riding in the bean field to destroy the weeds. Since Ken and Marlene encouraged each of their daughters to pursue a college degree, the girls’ lives took them off of the farm. So in 1986, Ken and Marlene decided to sell the farm and move into Rock Rapids. Ken’s desire to continue learning brought him to attend and graduate from the Lincoln Graduate Center in real estate and appraising, the Mason City College of Auctioneering, and the Farm Bureau Insurance School. He sold all lines of insurance for Farm Bureau, sold real estate for Schnepf and Miller, auctioned, and appraised real estate for Mellema Appraisals. He also had a genuine interest in bettering lives through city and county government. This led him to run for the office of Lyon County Auditor. He was elected in 1986, and won (2) more elections, serving the county for 12 years before deciding it was time to retire. During his lifetime he served on many different boards: Co-op, Rural Electric Company, Central Lyon School, Merrill Pioneer Hospital, Rock Rapids Development, Central Lyon Foundation, and the Rock Rapids City Council. On the state level, he served on the State Auctioneer’s Board and the State Auditor’s Board.
His life interest was serving others. He was most interested in serving the church, his family, and the community. At the age of 17, he dedicated his life to Christ and became a member of the First Reformed Church in Rock Rapids. As a member, he served as Deacon, Elder, and Vice President of the Consistory. He also willingly served in teaching Sunday School for 55 years, taught catechism, was an RCYF sponsor, was a life-long member of the church choir, and sang in “The Reformer’s Quartet” for 52 years (which was the joy of his life)! He also loved his family with all of his heart. Ken and Marlene were able to drive to Texas to spend time with their (7) grandchildren there and to see the oldest three Madden grandchildren graduate from high school with honors. Another highlight was to see (2) of their grandchildren compete in tennis mixed doubles , as sister and brother, at the Texas state level, and receive the gold medal. Ken had the desire to help each of his grandsons, living in this area, develop a love for gospel music. For several years, every time the “Journey Bound” quartet sang in the area, they would go to Dell Rapids, and “load up” all (7) of the Austin and Grosz grandsons for a trip to hear “Journey Bound” sing. This involved a quick stop at “Burger King” before, and an ice cream treat afterwards. Upon their way home, the cd’s purchased were played with everyone singing along “at the top of their lungs!” The grandsons always looked forward to their visits, because they knew that Papa and Nana would stop at Casey’s and buy donuts to deliver to both homes whenever they went to Dell Rapids. The younger ones would be known to be looking out of the windows waiting for them to arrive. In turn, their children and grandchildren blessed their lives by giving them week-long trips to gospel quartet conventions in Palmetto, FL and Memphis, TN. Another favorite place to travel was to Branson, MO, to hear great, southern gospel music. A wonderful blessing was for Ken and Marlene to be able to celebrate 50 years of marriage with an open house. It was given in their honor, by their children, on Sept. 2, 2012 at the First Reformed Church. The entire family was home to help them celebrate, as well as many extended family members and friends.
Christmas Day also brings back special memories. This was when the grandchildren gathered around a birthday cake baked for Jesus. Before dinner, Ken would read the Christmas story as recorded in Luke 2 to the family. After lighting the candles, everyone sang, “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. Ken’s love for God was very apparent. Whenever he prayed it was as if he was talking to his very best friend, Jesus. He was known to reach out to young people; always having the desire for them to come to know the Lord. Young people he’d had in Sunday School were known to quote the words “Free Grace” to Ken upon seeing him years later, remembering his teaching that we are only saved by God’s Grace. He will lovingly be remembered by his wife as her “soul-mate and best friend”, by each of his daughters as a “loving Dad”, and by his grandchildren as their “beloved Papa”. It has always been Ken’s prayer to meet his family in Heaven some day! Grateful for having shared his life is his wife, Marlene; three daughters and sons-in-law: Cindy (Dave) Madden, Borger, TX.; Carrie (Mike) Austin, Dell Rapids, SD; Julie (Rich) Grosz, Dell Rapids, SD;14 grandchildren; and 2 sisters-in-law: Joyce Mellema and Lois Beckstrand. Ken was preceded in death by his parents and only brother, Dewey.