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Gary Lee Jaarda passed away in Naples, Florida on January 15, 2024. Born in 1947 in Holland, Michigan, Gary was preceded in death by his first wife Lois Anne (Fredricks) Jaarda, who was also his high school and college sweetheart; his parents Gerald and Kathleen (Elenbaas) Jaarda, in-laws Russel J. and Audrey (Beckman) Fredricks, two brothers-in-law Steve Bushouse and Edgar “Ed” Fredricks and sister-in-law Helen Fredricks.
Gary remarried in 2006 and is survived by his second wife, Mary Snyder Jaarda of Naples, whose companionship he greatly enjoyed as they made many wonderful memories together. Gary and Mary enjoyed an active lifestyle including golfing, boating, traveling and entertaining friends, thanks in no small part to Mary’s hospitality and superior culinary skills. Gary is also survived by his three children and their spouses – each of whom Gary loved as his own kids – Christopher and Kristen Jaarda of Mclean, Virginia, Jennifer and Morgan Buffington of Greenville, South Carolina and Jeffrey and Becky Jaarda of Bonita Springs, Florida and his grandchildren who loved “Pupa” very much – Beckman and Catherine “Kate” Jaarda of Mclean, Audrey and Lilly-Frances Buffington of Greenville, and Brendan McHale of Winter Park, Florida. Also surviving Gary are Mary’s children, Andy Snyder and Elizabeth (Snyder) Anderson as well as Elizabeth’s husband Giles and their son Julian. Gary is survived by his sister Patricia Bushouse of Holland whom Gary adored and admired for her kindness and strength; three of Lois’ siblings and their spouses, James and Faye Fredricks, Kathy (Fredricks) and Phillip Kornoelje, and Ruth (Fredricks) and Dave Larkin; many nieces and nephews; goddaughter Katie (TerHaar) Garcia; and friend and caretaker Winston Parkes.
Gary married Lois during their senior year at Calvin College, lived in Holland, had “the twins”–Christopher and Jennifer–and later moved to Grand Rapids where Jeff was born. It was in Grand Rapids where Gary and Lois raised their family. Faith was incredibly important to Gary. He lived in the knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Risen Savior. Gary was a member at Ada Christian Reformed Church, LaGrave Avenue CRC and First Baptist Church of Naples. He actively supported many faith-based charities, including Ada Christian School and Samaritan’s Purse, and enjoyed attending Bible study as well as the fellowship of the King’s Cup. Over the years, Gary relied on the Biblical counsel of two close friends, Grant Ellis and Jerry Jonker, both of Grand Rapids.
Gary devoted his professional career to real estate, as an owner of Woodland Realty, founder of AJS Realty, and later operated TrentonLee Corporation, a residential real estate development company, with good friend and golf partner John Rubie of Grand Rapids. Gary and John’s work led to the development of some of the finest residential neighborhoods in West Michigan. In 2002, Gary and Lois moved to Bonita Springs where Gary continued his work in real estate, focusing on helping clients find their Florida home. Gary was joined in the real estate business by Jeff and Becky.
Gary shared a love of golf with his son Chris. Together they played many great courses from the Old Course at St. Andrews to Pine Valley and Pebble Beach. Over the years Gary reveled in the comradery of his friends at the golf clubs where he was a member, including Cascade Hills Country Club in Grand Rapids, serving as club President in 1999, Bonita Bay Club, and Royal Poinciana Golf Club. Through golf, Gary developed many close friendships. He enjoyed playing with friends that included Ron DenBesten of Bonita Springs, Drew Chambers of Clinton, Iowa, Grant Ellis, John Rubie and Larry Leigh of Grand Rapids, Tom Eggleston of Indianapolis, Indiana, and Lee Irving and the late Albert Thiess, Jr. both of Bluffton, South Carolina. Gary enjoyed spending time with family and attending sporting events with his kids. Gary would recall fondly memories of surprising Chris by taking him to Game 4 of the 1984 World Series won by the Detroit Tigers and taking Chris, Jeff and his nephew, Seth Bushouse, to Detroit Pistons games in 1989 and 1990.
Gary was a loyal friend who loved you with all his heart. That love is something learned from his parents, modeled by the Heavenly Father, and something Gary passed on to his children. After Lois passed away, Gary carried a small card in his wallet with one of her favorite verses – “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39.
Funeral services will be held at a later date during the summer of 2024 with interment to follow at Pilgrim Home Cemetery in Holland.