Arthur Hoekstra

July 16, 1949 - November 1, 2011
Kalamazoo, MI



Saturday, November 5, 2011
12:00 PM to 4:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900
Driving Directions
Web Site


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Crossroads Antiracism Organizing & Training
P.O. Box 309
Matteson, IL 60443
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

LongJohns Floral Shoppe & Greenhouses
4038 N. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
(888) 289-4738
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


When reflecting on the life of Arthur Hoekstra, perhaps the word that best illustrates this extraordinary man is passionate. He was passionate about the things he believed in, passionate about making a difference in the lives of others, and passionate about loving family, friends, and stranger alike with an unconditional and unbiased love. A man of great intelligence, Art’s ingenuity and devotion to the communities he called home were the driving force behind his hard work in everything he did. Although his accomplishments are numerous, there was nothing of greater importance to Art than his roles as a husband, father, and grandfather. A true gift in the lives of many, he will be deeply missed while his memory is forever cherished.

As the decade of the forties was drawing to a close, America was more than ready to say goodbye to the unrelenting hardship of the Great Depression and the perils of WWII. With the baby boom underway and factories that were able to manufacture goods that had taken a back seat to the production of things needed to support the war effort, America was going places we had never been. Amidst this vibrant time there was much to celebrate for one young couple from Lansing, Illinois, as they were pleased to announce the birth of their healthy baby boy on July 16, 1949.

Arthur was the oldest of six boys born to his parents, Herman and Gertrude Hoekstra, and was raised in the family home in Lansing, a southern Chicago suburb. His father worked as a milkman for Pleasantview Dairy while his mother had more than enough to keep her busy at home. As a young boy Art loved riding along with his father on the milk truck and playing baseball in an empty lot across the street with his neighborhood friends. It was during his formative years that Art came to embrace the Christian faith that remained a cornerstone in his life throughout his entire life’s journey. He learned the fundamentals of the faith by attending services at Grace Reformed Church.

From an early age Art was an industrious young man who wholeheartedly applied himself to everything he did. He attended Lansing Christian Grade School and Illiana Christian High School where he excelled in his studies. Art entered the work force in the tile trade at the young age of 15 when he learned the ins and outs of setting tile.

After graduating from high school, Art continued his education at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights where he met the young woman who would change the course of his life forever. Her name was Mary, and she quickly stole his heart. With a desire to build a life together, they were married in 1970 on the campus of Trinity Christian College.

It was also during his years in college that Art’s passion for community activism and social justice was born. His earliest efforts came to fruition in the city of Chicago, which also happened to be his favorite city. A short time after married his sweetheart, Art and his new bride moved to Massachusetts where they remained for two years. While there Art and Mary welcomed their daughter, Alice, into their hearts and home.

From Massachusetts the family of three moved to the suburbs of Chicago where Art and Mary were house parents at Glenwood School for Boys. They remained there for four years and were blessed with the births of two more daughters, Anna and Margaret. In addition to his work, Art continued his education and went on to earn his master’s degree.

In 1980 Art and his family moved to Kalamazoo where he joined the Kalamazoo Deacon's Conference. He worked tirelessly there and spent 20 years as the Executive Director. It wasn’t surprising that Art also became involved in community organizing as well. Dismantling institutional racism became both his passion and his mission during this time. The last 15 years of his life were focused on his work as an antiracism organizer and trainer with Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training. This became his full-time work in 2001.

Throughout his life Art was a man of many interests. He enjoyed riding his motorcycle, landscaping his yard, taking bicycle rides, and tackling various projects around the house. Art was an articulate intellectual who was known to use such unique words that they often needed to be looked up in order to follow what he was talking about. He loved making others laugh with his unmatched sense of humor and when he laughed, all would agree that it was infectious.

Although he loved pursuing his interests there was nothing Art enjoyed more than spending time with his wife, children, and grandchildren. Some of his most treasured moments were spent sitting in the yard listening to music with his beloved family.

Art was the most invigorated when he was facilitating a group of people through the process of dismantling institutional racism. The people at Crossroads became his spiritual support group and network. His passion for organizing and training concluded in establishing his awareness campaign known as the Nail Cancer Awareness Group. Art was a fighter - for his girls, for justice, for what is right, and for the past 3 years against cancer.

Art Hoekstra went home to be with his Creator on November 1, 2011, at his home surrounded by his family. Art gave his time in life to two things, his family and his work. His final days were spent where he always wanted to be, on the corner of Cobb and Paterson Streets in the neighborhood he loved intimately. Art was a soldier in the battle against cancer, his specifically being a rare form of melanoma called Acral Lentiginous Melanoma Subungual – although Art affectionately named it Nail Cancer.

Arthur Hoekstra died on November 1, 2011. Art’s family includes his wife, Mary; daughters, Alice (Rob Woodrow) Hoekstra, Anna (Greg) Magnan, and Margaret “Gretta” (Tim) Terrentine; 5 grandchildren: Parker and Addison Woodrow, Scarlett Magnan, Olivia and TJ Terrentine; mother; 5 brothers, Don, Howard, Al, Steve and Ken; and many nieces and nephews. Art was preceded in death by his father. Visitation with the family will take place on Saturday from 12-4 p.m. at Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive; 375-2900. A private memorial service will take place at a later date. Please visit Art’s personal web page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can sign Art’s guest book before coming to the funeral home or archive a memory or photo of him. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to Crossroads Antiracism Organizing & Training.