Page 613-614 - William Donker is one of the progressive and prominent exponents of the fuel business in Grand Rapids, where he is president of the Donker Coal Company, which here controls a large and prosperous wholesale and retail coal business, with large and well equipped yards at 557-607 Leonard street, northwest, where are maintained also the offices of the concern. Mr. Donker was born in Holland, in 1869, and is a son of Martin Donker. He was four years of age when, in 1873 his parents came to the United States and established their residence in Grand Rapids. Here he attended the public schools until he was ten years old, and thereafter he was employed a few months in the upholstering department of the Nelson-Matter furniture establishment. He next worked about one year in the pail factory of C. C. Comstock. Thereafter he gave his attention to the making of grease boxes, as did many other Grand Rapids boys of that period, who likewise were thus employed in the old Grand Rapids barrel factory. He then returned to the Comstock factory, where he served a four years’ apprenticeship to the trade of machinist. As a skilled workman at his trade he was employed five years in the shops of Alexander Dodds and he next became interested in the Drake Steam Turbine Company, with which he did much experimental work, his mechanical talent causing him to take special interest in such research and experimentation. He was concerned in the organization of this company and retained his interest in same until 1909, when he sold his interest, owning to his impaired health. In the following year he became associated with John C. Mol in the purchase of established coal yards, and Henry Seaborg likewise became an interested principal in the new firm of Donker, Mol & Seaborg. One year later Mr. Donker acquired the interest of Mr. Seaborg, and thereafter the firm of Donker & Mol continued the business until 1922, when by purchase of his partner’s interest, Mr. Donker gained sole control. In the following year he organized and incorporated the Donker Coal Company, of which he has since been the president, his son, George W., being its vice-president, and his son, Martin B., being secretary and treasurer. The wife of Mr. Donker bore the maiden name of Jennie Wegbunder, and she was born and reared in Grand Rapids. Mr. Donker is one of the enterprising and loyal business men of the city that has represented his home since his childhood, and he takes deep interest in all that concerns the civic and material prosperity of Grand Rapids.
Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 30 December 2002