Jim (Vander) Kodde, 69
Jim (Vander) Kodde, 69, of Douglas departed this life on May 4, 2017, after a short battle with cancer.
He was preceded in death by his parents Harold (Dutch) and Esther (DeVries) VanderKodde and is survived by his husband Gary Alpers, his step-daughter Rachel (Annika) Alpers and his adoptive sister Georgia (Doug) Everse, their children Nick, Philip, Dasha and their extended family and friends.
Jim was born in Grand Rapids on Aug. 11, 1947. Raised in Jenison, he graduated from Hudsonville High School in the Class of 1965 where he was named "Best Dressed," a distinction that would follow him throughout his life.
After high school Jim was called to serve his country in Vietnam and he did so honorably from 1966 through 1968. Jim was a veteran of the United States Army 6th Convalescent Center in Cam Ranh Bay and felt a deep and lifelong appreciation for the sacrifices of the men and women who serve.
In 1969, Jim began working at Steelcase Inc. He enjoyed a 25-year career at Steelcase in sales administration, pricing and contracts and government sales. A few short years into his first retirement, he was recruited by Herman Miller where he spent 15 years leading government contract negotiations.
In 2012, Jim started Kodde Consulting, applying his unique expertise in general services administration to help other companies in the furniture industry build internal capacity and knowledge for successful contract development.
In 2015, he decided to take another run at retirement to spend more time enjoying life, the love of his life Gary, and his many interests.
Jim loved all forms of art, flowers, gardening, Lake Michigan, European travel, fine food, good wine and spirited conversation by the fire with friends that he cherished.
He had a knack for design, and for making even ordinary things beautiful. He advised everyone who would listen on the importance of proper lighting and ambiance.
Jim was an avid reader and news junky. He was fiercely liberal and cared deeply about the human experience of people outside of the mainstream.
In 2014, Jim was able to legally marry his partner of 23 years in Palm Springs at the beautiful home of their close friend Peggy Eskenasi, a blessing he never thought would happen in his lifetime and one that he prayed will continue to be available to future generations of God's LGBT flock.
"For You alone formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139: 13-14.
Jim was loved unconditionally and is survived by his adoptive mother Tina Afendoulis; special cousins Marcia (Doug) Halloran and children, Brandon, Shannon, Shawn and Dana; Pat (Dave) Allen and Sharon (Paul) Spielmaker; Special niece Dawn (Steve) Anderson.
He treasured his friendship with and will be deeply missed by Hugh Dodge, Scott Tagliapietra and Jim Ramthun, Ben Kubicki, Erik Lee and Joe (Precious) Firmiss, Laura and Bill Benson, Karen Kramer, Dave Bowes, Cynthia Ashton and Marguerite Riker.
During his years at Steelcase and Herman Miller Jim had many friends and colleagues with whom he shared a host of wonderful memories. You know who you are and although time and distance got in the way of frequent contact, he held those memories close to his heart and they always brought a smile to his face.
Jim enjoyed many years of living in Douglas and visiting Milwaukee, Wis. and Gulfport, Fla., where he established many special relationships and where he will be remembered with love.
We have been changed for the good because we knew you Jim VanderKodde. You will always be in our hearts and we will think of you every time we laugh until we snort, and most certainly every time we dim the lights. Rest well, until we see you again, in a place of light, in a place of green pastures, in a place of refreshment, where there is no pain, sorrow or suffering, but life everlasting.
Private gatherings to celebrate Jim's life are being planned by the family. To sign a remembrance book go to SimplyCremationService.com. For those who are so inclined, Jim and Gary would appreciate donations to Wings of Hope Hospice, 530 Linn St. Allegan, MI 49010. Wingsofhopehospice.com and Lainie's Angels, 1138 Michigan St. NE Grand Rapids, MI 49503, Lainiesangels.org.