John Charles Carlyle, 79

John Charles Carlyle, 79, of Spring Lake passed away on Sunday, April 22, 2018, at home. He was born on Sept. 20, 1938, to the late Harold and Ruth (LeJeune) Carlyle in Plainwell.

John married Nancy Sessions on Aug. 26, 1961, and the two were married for nearly 57 years. John graduated from Plainwell High School in 1956 and Albion College in 1960.  He earned his law degree from Duke Law School in 1964. 

After receiving his J.D., he and Nancy moved to Chicago where he earned his C.P.A. The couple moved to Grand Haven in 1968 where John joined Scholten Fant. He practiced law in the community for nearly 40 years, serving clients with Scholten and Fant, independently, and finished his career after opening the Grand Haven office of Varnum law.

In addition to his law practice, John was a businessman. He served on a number of Boards of Directors of local companies, and at one time owned M&S Companies in Grand Haven and The Wright Coating Company in Kalamazoo. John loved this area and was dedicated to community service.

He was instrumental in founding the Tri-Cities YMCA, Hospice of North Ottawa Community and the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation. He supported and helped start programs to provide early education to children in need both here and abroad; efforts aimed at adult literacy; and organizations dedicated to exonerating the wrongly convicted. 

John was involved in a number of civic organizations focused on improving the lives of community residents, including North Ottawa Community Hospital, Lion’s Club, Grand Haven Area Jaycees, Mulligan’s Hollow Ski Bowl, United Way, the Boer Family Foundation, and many more. He also impacted individuals through his support of scholarships at both Albion College and Duke Law School.

John lived a very active and fulfilled life. He enjoyed boating, driving cars and motorcycles, skiing, flying, shooting trap and skeet, and cheering on his beloved Duke Blue Devils. He loved a good joke and his hearty laugh was infectious to everyone around him. 

John’s real love was spending time with his family. He delighted in watching his children and grandchildren grow. He leaves a legacy of “life lessons,” the most important of which is that family takes care of each other.

John will be lovingly remembered by his wife Nancy; daughters, Megan Carlyle (Tim Dadson) and Amy (Kyle) Williams; four grandchildren, Sadie and Lucas Williams, and Mairin and Will Carlyle-Dadson.

John was preceded in death by his brother and sister-in-law, Butch and Anne Carlyle of Plainwell. 

The family invites the community to celebrate John’s life at a gathering at the Spring Lake Country Club on June 22, details to follow. 

Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of North Ottawa Community, the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation or The Tri-Cities YMCA.

Arrangements are being provided by Klaassen Family Funeral Home. Please visit to sign John’s online guestbook.


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