Charles Adam Burkholder


Charles Adam Burkholder, 89, died May 12, 2023, at his home in Grandville, Mich.

He was born on Jan. 17, 1934, to Blanche (Herr) and Clarence Burkholder in Lancaster County, Pa.

After graduating from Goshen College in 1955, his Mennonite faith and belief in nonviolence led him to be a conscientious objector during the Korean War, serving alternative service as a houseparent in a home for troubled boys. He earned a master of social work degree from Ohio State University in 1959.

Later, as an active Unitarian Universalist, he approached life with a responsibility to serve others. He found purpose in caring for his family and advocating for the needy, serving both his local and the global community.

After working as a counselor in Elkhart, Ind., he served the Grand Rapids, Mich., community as executive director of Family Service Association. During 23 years at FSA, he advocated for families by serving on boards, crafting legislation and founding the Family Outreach Center. He was appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court to craft legislation providing counseling services to fractured families. He served on the boards of churches in Michigan and Arizona, including Fountain Street Church and All Souls Community Church. With a passion for social justice, he and Aleda, his wife, served with the Green Valley-Sahuarita Samaritans in Arizona, assisting migrants and advocating to ease their suffering.

They joined retirement communities in Bonita Springs, Fla., and Green Valley, Ariz. He enjoyed softball, tennis, cards, Cubs baseball and Ohio State football. He radiated grace and gratitude while sharing his wonder and awe for the mysteries of life.

He is survived by his wife, Aleda (Sikkema); daughters Christina Cooper and Anne (Steve) Engvall; stepchildren Randall (Susie Chang) te Velde, Debra (John) Hoekstra and Laurel (Mark Shepard) te Velde; eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by brothers J.Richard and Harold.

A celebration of life service was held at Fountain Street Church Chapel, Grand Rapids.

Contributions can be made Green Valley-Sahuarita Samaritans.

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