INKERMAN — Don Grotenhuis was just 21 when his father died, and he found himself taking over the family dairy farm, southwest of Winchester. He worked the farm for more than 40 years and last month died of a massive heart attack at age 64 while out late at night looking for the family dog.
Grotenhuis’s daughter, Kelly, is 21 and has been working alongside her father. The young woman and her mother, Maaike Grotenhuis — wife of the deceased — have been running the farm together since his sudden passing shocked their local and church communities.
“We’re just going to take the time to sort it all out, and if she wants to take it over, then that’s what we’ll make possible,” Maaike said of her daughter, who worked full-time with Grotenhuis on the organic farm for the last couple of years. The farm produces milk from a herd of 40 cows.
In the meantime, the daily farm work occupying their time has been a good thing, Maaike said. “For now, we’re going to keep on going.”
She said her husband let their dog out about 12:15 a.m. on Aug. 11, then went out after the dog when it failed to return. When Grotenhuis himself took too long to come back, Maaike went looking for him after hearing the dog bark. She found him lying on the ground “with his hands raised above his head and looking toward Heaven, like he was praising God and where he wanted to be.”
Grotenhuis was an enthusiastic member of his church, where he often sang at the front with his arms outstretched. He made a full recovery from a brain aneurysm several years ago. He was married to Maaike for 33 years. They have five adult daughters, two sons-in-law and three grandchildren.