James Verstay president of the National Sheet Metal Works, 406-408 Scribner avenue, Grand Rapids, is one of the successful executives of an important institution in the manufacturing and industrial circles of this city. He is a native son of Grand Rapids of whom the community can be proud. He was born in this city upon December 11, 1882. His parents, Charles and Cordelia (VanLauten) Verstay, were both natives of the Netherlands. The father, Charles Verstay, came to the United States when about twelve years of age and together with two of his brothers, Cornelius and Orrie, served in the Civil war. Charles, the youngest of the group, enlisted when only sixteen years of age. The father of the subject of this sketch, as a harness maker followed that trade for many years until his retirement. He continued to reside in Grand Rapids until his death in 1913, and his widow is now living here at the advanced age of seventy-eight years. The parents of the subject of this sketch were married in Grand Rapids and had seven children, five of whom are now living. After the close of the Civil war, Charles Verstay carried mail between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo and was a witness and if still with us could bear testimony to very many interesting incidents of the formative periods of this community’s history. James Verstay received his education in the public and high schools of Grand Rapids. He entered upon his business career by learning the sheet metal trade, working for the Grand Rapids Blow Pipe Company for seven years. In 1920 he embraced an opportunity to wide the scope of his activities and assisted in the organization of the National Sheet Metal Company, at once being made vice-president of that institution. Charles Alden, president, and C. J. Heyboe, secretary and treasurer, served in the other executive capacities. In 1923 Mr. Verstay became president of this institution with J. Engelin as vice-president and H. K. Clark as secretary and treasurer. Mr. Verstay’s training in the work for fifteen years with W. C. Hopson, of Grand Rapids, under whom he learned the sheet metal trade, contributed a foundation toward his success in this work. Mr. Verstay is an active member of the Grand Rapids Association of Commerce and takes an interest in the affairs of Hope Lutheran church. In addition to his devoted attention to his mother, who still lives at the age of seventy-eight years upon the old homestead, 766 College avenue, northeast, where the son James born, he has his own family circle. His wife, whom he married in 1902, was Mary Brown, of Grand Rapids, and their children are: Gladys, aged twenty years, a graduate of Grand Rapids high school; Lucile, aged fifteen years, a student at Crescent high school; and James, aged two years.
Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 24 March 2005