By Kevin Murphy
(Reuters) - The father of Michigan sextuplets whose birth made headlines 10 years ago died of a heart attack after setting up a backyard trampoline, a relative said on Thursday. He was 39.
Ben Van Houten suffered a heart attack on Wednesday night in back of the family's home in Hamilton, Michigan, about 90 miles west of Lansing, his father-in-law Calvin Reimink said.
Van Houten died in the hospital, he said.
"He thought the sun rose and set on those kids," said Reimink, whose daughter, Amy, was married to Van Houten.
"They couldn't have had a better father than him," Reimink said.
Van Houten's family had a history of heart problems, with his own father dying of a heart attack at age 40, Reimink said.
The 10-year-old sextuplets - four boys and two girls - were born to Ben and Amy Van Houten in January 2004. Two of them were diagnosed with cerebral palsy and have special needs, Reimink said. The sextuplets also have a 7-year-old sister, he said.
Reimink said the Van Houtens are faithful Baptists and are relying on their church for strength and support.
Amy Van Houten has been too busy with the children to work outside the home and will find it challenging to manage seven children on her own, Reimink said. Ben Van Houten worked for TUV/SUD, a German engineering services firm, Reimink said.
The sextuplets got national attention when they were born and the media has continued to follow their growth and how the family has adapted.
Services for Van Houten are pending at the Dykstra Life Story Funeral Home in Holland, Michigan, said an employee.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, Mo.; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Gunna Dickson)