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Life Story / Obituary
Ann Fortuin’s life was enriched in numerous ways as she lovingly nurtured her family and the young lives of countless children. Generous with her time and talents, Ann was a devoted wife and mother, and in her family, she found her greatest joy. Her giving nature was unmatched, and her compassion immeasurable. Ann truly exemplified what it meant to give selflessly, and with a loving heart. Her memory lives on through the many lives she touched, and for those who knew and loved Ann best, she will be remembered with joy.
Ann’s story began during a time of economic prosperity as industry and the need for consumer goods rose. While Gershwin and Berlin dominated the music scene, men in their pan hats strolled along with swank and swagger and were quite a match for the belles of the infamous Roaring Twenties, the flapper. At the same time, Ellis Island closed its doors as an immigration entry point, leaving behind numerous memories of promises for better tomorrows. No one understood this more than Arand and Martha (Vanderneet) VanKlaveren. Having emigrated to the U.S. from the Netherlands, they settled in Chicago, Illinois where they lovingly raised their family which came to include Ann Katherine, born on June 23, 1924.
While her father worked as a house mover, Ann’s mother was a busy homemaker taking care of young Ann and her older brother, Peter, and in time, her younger sister, Cora. Ann attended the local schools and during the summers her family often visited relatives where she learned the value and importance of family. She enjoyed a childhood typical of her generation, having grown up in an area of Chicago where others from the Netherlands supported one another within their community. This was especially so during the hardships and struggles of the Great Depression which created much financial uncertainty and sacrifice.
Ann was merely 12 years old when she and her family experienced the untimely death of her father. Left to raise her children alone, Ann’s mother forged on and began sewing to earn an income. While her mother worked, Ann had the responsibility of running their household which was undeniably quite a task for a young girl her age.
Despite these trying times, Ann remained optimistic. She continued on with school, attending high school on Wentworth and 108th Street while many left their educations behind to seek work. Before long, Ann met Nicholas Samuel Fortuin, a handsome young man she fell in love with and married on February 20, 1942. To their union, they were blessed with the birth of their son in 1942, Karl. While her beloved Nick was serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Ann lovingly raised their young son as a single parent. Upon his honorable discharge, Nick returned home from the war to Ann’s awaiting arms.
Ann was a devoted wife and dedicated mother. She was involved in her son’s school and other activities. Having made a good, loving home for her family, Ann was a good cook, too. When it came to keeping house, she was extremely clean and tidy. She was very well organized, and she kept everything was in its place. As a family, they enjoyed treasured holidays together as well as several family vacations.
In the late sixties, while vacationing in California, Ann’s husband saw an ad for a job. He installed elevators for a living, and on a whim, he took the test required for the position and was immediately offered the job. They returned home to pack, and soon the Los Angeles, California area became their new home. Ann loved the climate of southern California and it suited her well.
Even though Ann’s husband took a wonderful new job that brought them to the west coast, it was there in California where Ann found her true calling. Ann adored babies, and with her son grown with a life of his own, Ann soon became a foster mother. At any given time, Ann tenderly cared for one to four babies or toddlers who certainly kept her busy, yet Ann loved every minute of it. Through the years, Ann gave these precious little ones what they needed most – love and security. Although at times it was hard to let them go once they found their forever families, Ann considered her role in their lives a blessing. In all, Ann touched the lives of over 150 babies, and in 1984, she was 60 years old when she fostered her last.
Along with ceasing her role as a foster mother, it was also in 1984 when Ann’s beloved Nick passed away. This time in Ann’s life was not easy, yet with renewed hope, Ann’s optimistic outlook once again saw her through. She remained living in California and whenever her son and grandchildren came to visit, enjoyed taking them to Knotts Berry Farm where delightful times were savored by all. Eventually, Ann moved to Portage, Michigan in 1990 to be near her family.
Ann had a love for travel and over the years. She enjoyed visiting eight different countries in Europe including England. In her free time, she liked watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! on TV. Ann liked getting together with friends and she delighted all with her fun-loving ways and dry sense of humor. As the years went on, Ann suffered from various ailments. In 2014, when her needs became greater, Ann moved to Vista Springs Assisted Living in nearby Grand Rapids where she lived until the last of her days.
A remarkable, loving woman, Ann Fortuin was just as generous as she was nurturing. Life for Ann was all about family, and she loved them dearly. She found her true calling in giving selfless love and support to the many babies entrusted to her care, and she did so with joy. Ann counted the day she married her Nick as the greatest of her life, and she was ever proud of her son and his family. Ann was an example to all as she lived with kindness in her heart, and respected all she encountered. Gone but never to be forgotten, Ann leaves a legacy all about love.
Ann Fortuin, age 91, formerly of Portage, died on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, at Vista Springs in Grand Rapids. She is survived by her son, Karl; four grandchildren: Roberta (Richard) Gould, Teresa Baker, Karla (Steven) Schmidt, Karl Jr. Fortuin; two great-grandchildren: Christopher Gould (Cori); four great-great-grandchildren. In addition to her husband, Nick, Ann was preceded in death by her brother, sister, and two great-grandchildren: Jason and Nicholas. Funeral services for Ann will be held at 2:00 PM on Monday, May 23, 2016, at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler, 6080 Stadium Dr. (375-2900). Her family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. Please visit Ann’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can share a favorite memory, photo and sign her online guestbook. Memorial donations may be made to Gentiva Hospice.