Erie William Oaks

Erie William Oaks, age 93, of Grand Rapids, MI went home to be with his Lord and Savior on February 21, 2023, at his home surrounded by his loving family. Erie was born May 23, 1929, in Fairview, MI to Charles H. and Mary (Handrich) Oaks.

Erie attended Fairview High School and graduated in 1948. While there he enjoyed playing basketball, baseball and table tennis. Since his Dad drove school bus, he would ride to school early in the morning and practice his table tennis skills while his Dad picked up the students. His junior year, he won the table tennis championship for the entire school.

Erie and Sovilla met during the summer of 1957 when Sovilla travelled from Sturgis to Fairview to help her brother Harvey and Katie take care of their children. Erie’s brother, Vernon, was married to Katie’s sister, Betsy, and Sovilla soon became acquainted with the Oaks family. They were married on April 21, 1962, at Locust Grove Mennonite Church in Findley, MI. Together they raised four children; Judy, Janice, Jim, and Joyce.

He is survived by his wife Sovilla (Borkholder) Oaks of Grand Rapids, sister Lorene (Orlo) Troyer of Fairview, daughter Judy (Gene) VandeBunte of Grand Rapids, daughter Janice (Dan) Bylsma of Hudsonville, MI, son Jim of Knoxville, TN and daughter Joyce Shantz of Big Rapids; nine grandchildren: David (Kate) VandeBunte, Daniel (Kayla) VandeBunte, Andrew VandeBunte, Caleb (Kaila) Bylsma, Jordan Bylsma, Isaac Bylsma, Ashlea Shantz, Clarissa (Estwenley) Blanchard and Seth Shantz; and great grandchildren: Nolan Vande-Bunte, Riley VandeBunte and Leland Bylsma.

Died February 21, 2023

He was preceded in death by his parents Charles and Mary Oaks, sister Leola (Walter) Kauffman, brother Vernon (Betsy) Oaks and granddaughter Jaide Bylsma.

Erie and his brother, Vernon Oaks, grew up helping their father on the family dairy farm in Fairview. Eventually they took over the operation.

Erie spent his entire life harvesting crops and milking cows until his retirement in 1987. He served on the board of the Oscoda County Soil Conservation District and was also a courier for the bank in Fairview for many years.

Erie was a long-time member of Fairview Mennonite Church. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather and freely shared his faith in God. He spent many hours outdoors and shared many stories of the fun he had while hunting and fishing through the years.

He enjoyed spending time with his family and treasured each summer when his grandchildren would spend various weeks visiting. He loved watching local youth and his grandchildren’s many sporting events. He and Sovilla enjoyed traveling over the years and would also travel to the many sports, drama, music, and band events their grandchildren were a part of at church and school. In the words of the grandchildren: Grandpa truly lived a life that honored God and was a beautiful example of husband, dad and grandpa. We will miss him so much but are thankful for the wonderful memories and the assurance of knowing he is in Heaven!

A visitation was held from 4-8 p.m. on Friday, February 24 at Lashley Funeral Home in Mio, MI.

Visitation was also held from 10-11 a.m. on Saturday, February 25, with the Funeral at 11 a.m. at the Fairview Mennonite Church. Fairview with Pastor Lowell Eastman officiated. Private Interment at the Fairview Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to The Mennonite Central Committee, PO Box 500, Akron, PA 17501-0500 ( or to the charity of your choice.

Arrangements made by Lashley Funeral Home, Mio.