Commercial Record

Obituary: Paul Polka

Paul (known to friends and family as Pete/Peter), passed away at his home on Jan. 2 due to complications of kidney disease. 
He is dearly missed by his loving wife of 63 years, Judy Smith Polka and his “girls” Stephanie Polka Vandeven and Heather Polka Pedersen.  He is also survived by his son-in-law Michiel Vandeven, grandchildren Halle Tubergen, Ian Pedersen, Hannah Pedersen, Shelby Pedersen, Malayla Garcia and great-grand daughter Scarlett Holden. 
Missing him also are his sister-in-law Ruth Smith-Cook, nephew Jay Cook and niece Robin Cook-Slater, her husband Kirk Slater, and their children Christian Slater and Arianna and Karl Slater-Grimm.
Peter lived an awesome life! Born in Chicago, he moved with his family as an infant back to his father’s homeland, Germany. There, the family endured World War 2 and then returned to Saugatuck when Peter was 9 years old. 
He spent the rest of his young life in Saugatuck, rowing the local ferry in the summers and eventually working for local law enforcement.  
Peter enlisted in the Army, and spent two years serving in various locations, including Germany. He returned to Saugatuck, married Judy, a local, and they remained “townies” for many years, raising their family and throwing epic “Polka parties” which included dancing (polka, of course), accordion music (one of Peter’s many talents) and homemade beer. He and the family enjoyed boating and sailing on Silver Lake and Lake Michigan.
Peter spent most of his work life welding and installing boilers for Vierson Boiler in Grand Rapids.  After retirement, he and Judy spent many enjoyable years on Pine Island, Bokeelia, Fla., before returning to live in Holland.
Peter was a man of many interests and talents. He was a fantastic gardener and beautified every property he lived on. In his younger years he had a pilot’s license. He was fascinated by world history. He built beautiful ship replicas, and enjoyed traveling. He was an avid photographer and spent lots of time learning about and watching birds. As Judy says, “He never met a hobby he didn’t like!”
He loved all animals and passed on a great respect for them to his children.  Peter was never without a loyal dog by his side. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you please make a donation in his name to Harbor Humane Society in West Olive. A private service will be held later this year.
“Hark, now hear the sailors cry,
Smell the sea, and feel the sky,
Let your soul and spirit fly,
into the mystic, into the mystic.”– Van Morrison
Arrangements are by Dykstra Funeral Homes-Northwood Chapel. To sign an online registry or leave a memory, please visit

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