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Donald “Guy” Estep

Guy Estep, 80, finished his work in this life on Friday, January 10, 2020, surrounded by those he loved, in the home he built with his own hands 54 years ago.

He was a Marine, craftsman, artist, public health expert, outdoorsman, pinochle player and avid, though often frustrated, golfer. Above all, he was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle. His greatest accomplishments and labors of love were on behalf of his beloved wife of 56 years, Patricia.

Guy was born Dec. 25, 1939, in Bellwood, Pa., to Berniece and Donald Estep, a Christmas gift to big sister Ruth. He spent his early years finding mischief in the mountain streams and small towns of central Pennsylvania before the family moved to Grand Rapids, where he resumed his boyhood adventures.

In his early teen years, the family moved to a farm in Caledonia, where Guy learned to stretch barbed wire, stack hay and ride horses. He became a skilled horseman and was a rodeo rider – although he always pointed out he had the good sense to avoid bull riding.

After graduating from Caledonia High School, he joined the Marines, attaining the rank of lance corporal. He was stationed at Adak, Alaska, a Cold War outpost on a remote Aleutian island.

Upon finishing service to his country, he attended Ferris State University. While still a student, he met his future wife, Patricia, who at first refused to give him a second look because he wore white socks with dress slacks. His persistence paid off, and they were married shortly after he graduated with a degree in environmental health.

Guy went to work for the Kent County Health Department, where he developed lifelong friendships and professional relationships. After finishing work each day, he would change his clothes and get to work building the home – based on an architectural plan they chose from The Grand Rapids Press – where he and Patricia would raise three children.

He later found what he described as his professional home at Meijer. He spent decades ensuring food safety, environmental health and cleanliness for the growing retail chain, retiring in 1999 as Director of Sanitation. (The next time you use a restroom at Meijer and are able to exit hands-free by pushing the door open instead of grabbing the handle, thank Guy.) He served many years with the Michigan Environmental Health Association and in 1990 received the LaRue L. Miller Lifetime Achievement Award. He also served as president of the board of directors for the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Guy is survived by his wife, Patricia; children Darin (Cami) Estep of Grand Rapids, Stephanie (David) Kempisty of Caledonia and Colleen “Weens” Marchese of Berkley; grandchildren Luke (Lacey) Kempisty, Isabel (Tyler) Hinton, Clair and Lilli Kempisty, Veronica and Charlotte Marchese, and Donovan and Ella Estep; sister, Ruth “Keaner” Ward of Grand Rapids; sister-in-law Judy Sanders of Grand Rapids; and many nieces, nephews and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Donald and Berniece Estep, and many family members through marriage whom he missed dearly. 

Guy embraced life. He was seldom idle and could always be found engaged in a home improvement or repair project. He was utterly devoted to Patricia. Only when time allowed and all jobs were finished would he indulge in his other passion, playing golf. He was a member of the Great Lakes Seniors Golf Association and enjoyed many friendships made on courses in Michigan and in Florida, where he and his wife spent winter months during retirement. He also was a proud member of American Legion Memorial Post 305 in Caledonia.

The family wants to express its thanks to friends and family who provided selfless support, kindness and love that enabled him to return home to Michigan for final farewells after his sudden illness in Florida. Even in death, his contributions to the world did not end, thanks to his enrollment in the Gift of Life registry.

Visitation will be Thursday, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at Matthysse Kuiper DeGraaf, 616 E. Main St., Caledonia. Funeral services will be Friday at 11 a.m. at Holy Family Catholic Church, 9669 Kraft Ave. SE, Caledonia.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or In the Image in Grand Rapids.

  1. Our sincere prayers and sympathy to the family. So sorry for your loss.

    - Dan and Laura Kempisty
  2. We are so sorry to hear of Guy’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you Patricia and your family. He will be missed.

    - Donna Varriale and Ken Stuppy
  3. We met Guy and Patty at OMS in Florida several years ago, one of the nicest persons we have ever known. He was always so gentle when he spoke to you and would do anything for you.
    God Bless you Guy. You will be missed.

    - Don and Jill schweikarth
  4. Patty – We are so sad to hear of Guys passing! God bless you and your family….

    - Mike and Kay Maitner
  5. I totally loved, respected and admired this classy, intelligent and polite Meijer LP Director having worked in his same department as an LP Assistant for 15 years.
    My sincere condolences to Patty and family whom he adored and spoke so highly of with that beautiful twinkle in his eyes.

    - Linda Seifert Lipski
  6. Dear Pat and Family ,

    So sorry to read about Guy’s death. My prayers, thoughts and condolences are with you.

    Eternal rest grant unto to him, O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, Rest In Peace. Amen

    - Alice Derezinski Donahue
  7. This is the loss of a kind gentle person who practiced his profession in a thorough efficient way .

    He was a wonderful person to work with.

    Earl Holton

    - Earl Holton
  8. Our deepest sympathy to Guy’s family. He was a great classmate.

    - Richard Oly
  9. May God Bless—sorry about the loss.He was a true gentleman. I believe we had a hand with your introduction to each other, (Lauria’s Beverages) in the mid sixties. With prayers and good reflections Vince

    - Vincent M. Lauria
  10. It was a privilege to be a neighbor of Guy and we will miss him dearly. What a great Man. Our prayers are with Pat and the whole wonderful family – God Bless

    - Kurt Stevens
  11. Dearest Pat and family,
    Our deepest, heartfelt sympathies in your great loss. We have such fond memories of our friendship and times together. Keeping you close in our thoughts and prayers, wishing for strength for your family.
    All our love,
    Sandi & Craig

    - Sandi & Craig Sanborn
  12. Dearest Pat,
    Our deepest sympathies during this difficult time. Keeping you and your family close in our hearts and prayers.

    - Emilie & Matt Musialczyk
  13. I worked with Guy for many years and he taught me a lot through those years. Guy was the utmost professional and highly knowledgeable in his field. Rest In Peace Guy.

    - Gus Kennedy
  14. Oh Patty I’m so sorry for the loss of Guy, your adoring husband. We will miss him at OMS, his kindness and smiles especially. Sending the angels a request to comfort you during this sorrowful time. God bless you Patty, know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. Judy

    - Judy Wheeler
  15. Guy was somebody everybody liked and respected. This brings back so many good memories of our time together at Meijer as part of a great team. My sympathy to the family.

    - Alex Arends
  16. Dear Pat,
    We were sorry to hear about your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Sincerely yours,
    Eric and Tanya

    - Eric and Tanya Seif

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