Houten and his wife Amy, who live in the Holland area in western Michigan, grabbed headlines in 2004 when Amy gave birth to six children at the Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. The children – five boys and a girl – are all 10 years of age now. They also have a younger, 7-year-old sister.
Michigan Live carried a brief story of the Houten family, along with photos shared by the family throughout the years.
Calvin Reimink, Amy’s father and father-in-law to Ben, spoke glowingly of his son-in-law. “Just to know Ben for even one day would be a blessing,” Calvin said. “He was always spending time with the kids.”
Reimink said Ben was playing with his kids and setting up a trampoline in their yard when the heart attack struck. Van Houten's father also died at an early age – 40 – of similar heart problems. Ben was rushed to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
The sextuplets – Samantha, Kennedy, Peyton, Nolan, John and Gerritt – were all born premature over the course of three days. The infants were born at 24 and 25 weeks; the largest was only a shade over two pounds.
The sextuplets captured our attention and hearts when their births were announced and when their story was told on the “Today” show. Well wishers flocked to the family’s side, providing them with gift cards, diapers, baby wipes and cases upon cases of food, overwhelming Ben and Amy.
"I can't believe my kids are going to eat this much stuff," Ben said at the time.
Michigan Live picks up the story:
The family started out in a 1,300-square-foot, three-bedroom ranch-style home. The babies were going through 42 diapers a day and 52 bottles. Twenty-five volunteers from Calvary Baptist Church, which the family attended, initially worked in three shifts to help Amy and Ben with around-the-clock baby care Monday through Friday.
Two of the sextuplets have cerebral palsy and need special care. Reimink said, “It’s going to be tough” on his daughter Amy and the family.
“He thought the sun rose and set on those kids,” said Reimink. “They couldn't have had a better father than him.”
Ben worked for TUV/SUD, a German engineering services firm. Services for Van Houten will be held at the Dykstra Life Story Funeral Home in Holland, Michigan, though no date has been announced yet. It’s likely that numerous benefits will be held and charitable sites established for voluntary donations; check back for details.