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Family, friends, and lawmakers gather for Vern Ehlers memorial

Daniel Boothe

Family, friends and fellow lawmakers gathered in Grand Rapids to honor the life and mourn the passing of former U.S. Representative Vern Ehlers at the Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. Ehlers served as the representative of Michigan's Third District for nearly two decades, from 1993 until January 2011. Prior to his career in Congress, Ehlers served four terms as a Kent County Board Commissioner, spent two years serving in Michigan’s House and eight years in the state Senate. 

Speaking on behalf of his children, the Reverend Thea Leunk said, Ehlers always tried to leave things better than he found them.

“Reflecting on Dad’s legacy, it is so comforting to see that Dad left this life, his family, his church, his community, and his world, better than he found it,” Leunk said.

Congressman Bill Huizenga said after the memorial, that Ehlers extraordinary life made the memorial a joyous occasion. 

“Truly he was someone you could look up, feel proud about, it was a life well lived,” Huizenga said. “And obviously with his illness over the last number of years, it has really been hard on family and friends, and former staff folks. Just a day to celebrate Vern and all he accomplished. It’s really a great day.”

Ehlers whose Christian faith was front and center in his life, was also a nuclear physicist and served for a time as Physics Chairman at Calvin College. Vern Ehlers passed away on August 15th at the age of 83 years old.

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