A Kind and Generous Man
Grandpa Royal to some, Royal DeWayne VanAken to others, and also known as “Royal Cat” was born on May 25, 1940. He was born in his home to Maurine and Max VanAken. He was the second of five children. His father was a construction worker and a farmer. His mother was a homemaker until Max died at the age of 53, when she went to work in a factory to support her family.
Grandpa Royal went to school and grew up on a farm in a typical small town called Camden, Michigan. As a young boy, he loved to play baseball down on a small patch of grass with his brothers and friends. If he wasn’t playing ball, you could probably find him rebuilding bikes. This enthusiasm for fixing up bikes led to one of his future hobbies, fixing old cars.
After high school, he attended Michigan State University where he met Yvonne (Bonnie) Wolover. It was love at first sight. As soon as he graduated they were married (see note 1 below). He was 21 years old. Soon after that, they adopted three children, Dawn, Troy and Kim.
I was the first grandchild in Grandpa Royal’s family. He and my grandma enjoyed gardening and swinging with me and my sister. He says that my sister is most like my dad, stubborn sometimes and sweet the rest.
On November 11, 2003 my grandpa lost the love of his life. My grandma died from breast cancer. I was 7 years old. It was a miserable time for my grandpa.
After that, my grandpa spent a lot of time buying and restoring 1955 Plymouths. This was a hobby he began when he was 16 years old and continues to enjoy it until this day.
My grandpa says that a good life is having peace and enough money to do some of the things you want to do. He has worked hard all of his life. He loves God, his family and enjoys each day he has been given.
My grandpa is a kind and generous man. I am lucky to have him as my role model and friend.
Note 1: I wrote this article when I was 12 years old. My grandfather took a one-year short course program in grain elevator management at MSU. Although not a college graduate, I am still proud of his pursuing addition certification and training after high school.