Large turnout expected to honor Ehlers

Vern Ehlers
An undated courtesy photo of former Congressman Vern Ehlers.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A large crowd is expected to turn out to pay their final respects to former U.S. Rep. Vern Ehlers.

The longtime congressman passed away last week at the age of 83. His life and years of service will be celebrated Thursday at Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids.

Ehlers’ longtime communications director, Chris Barbee, helped plan the memorial services. He said there will be accommodations for the anticipated crowd.

“We are expecting a large audience tomorrow to honor Congressman Ehlers. He had a huge impact on this community. Everybody wants to come out and pay their respects not only to him, but his family as well,” Barbee said. “Yes, there are a lot of logistics that have gone into this because of the excess crowd that we’re expecting. There are numerous overflow parking lots that we’re going to be using, five in the immediate area of the Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church. There are also plans for a livestream video to be show over at Sherman Street Church, too.”

Congressman Vern Ehlers
A map showing parking options for the funeral services for former Congressman Vern Ehlers.

Services are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. and last just more than an hour. If you can’t attend, you can watch live on WXSP or streaming at

Gov. Rick Snyder has ordered flags lowered to half-staff Thursday in honor of Ehlers.

“Vern was a devoted public servant and represented the best of Michigan,” the governor said in a Wednesday statement. “I send my deepest condolences to his family, friends and community during this time.”