Barbara Overbeek

March 7, 1939 - July 19, 2017
Grand Rapids, MI



Monday, July 24, 2017
10:00 AM to 11:30 AM EDT
Riverside Christian Reformed Church
602 Comstock Blvd
Grand Rapids, MI 49505


Monday, July 24, 2017
11:30 AM EDT
Riverside Christian Reformed Church
602 Comstock Blvd NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505


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.

Guiding Light Mission
PO Box 1703
Grand Rapids, MI 49501
Web Site

St Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St Jude Place
Memphis, TN 38105
Web Site


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

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Loving, strong, and generous, Barbara Overbeek lived her life with unwavering faith and incredible grace. A devoted wife, mother, and grandmother, Barb treasured her family whom she dedicated each of her days to caring for. With both poise and courage, Barb trusted her capacity to endure life’s difficulties and bless each joy equally. An inspiration to all, Barb will be deeply missed by many.

Despite the obvious gloom of the growing conflict in Europe, 1939 held much to celebrate, including the end of the Great Depression, the premieres of the classic film Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, regular television begin to broadcast nationwide, and The World’s Fair in New York. As the US actively armed for war, families continued to center their lives in love and hope for a brighter future. Nowhere was that hope more evident than in Grand Rapids, MI where Clarence and Marie (Honholt) Vander Woude welcomed their daughter Barbara Kay into their hearts and home on March 7th.

For the first eight years of her life, the Vander Woude family lived on the West side of Grand Rapids. Eventually, they move to the Southeast side where Barbara enjoyed spending lots of time at the dairy farm across the street from their home. The middle of three children, Barb was naturally social and sincerely loved the good company of other people. After attending Sylvan Elementary School, Barbara then went to East Christian where she was part of a half year class that only had a few girls in it. Barb enjoyed a happy childhood, rich in goodness and strong morals, upon which she firmly built the rest of her life.

She met the love of her life, Robert “Bob” Overbeek while walking on Eastern Avenue with her girlfriends after attending a hymn sing. The girls caught the eyes of Bob and a buddy who were driving by, and soon the two were introducing themselves to one another. Instantly smitten, the two began dating. As Barb was a couple of years younger than Bob, they waited to marry until Barb was done with school. On November 1, 1957, at Plymouth Heights Christian Reformed Church, they exchanged their wedding vows surrounded by the family and friends who would share their nearly 60 years of marriage.

After honeymooning in the Smoky Mountains, Barb and Bob returned to Grand Rapids. They moved a few times during the first years of the marriage before settling into their home on Montrose. Though Barb spent some time working for Wurzburg’s, the YWCA, and Corduroy Rubber, once she became a mother all of her focus was directed at carrying for her children.

Good thing Barb inherently liked to keep busy, with four sons there was always a flurry of activity for her to manage. Surrounded by young men, Barb quickly grew a thick skin while rarely sitting still. She was a proud mother who supported her boys in all their endeavors. She often volunteered at their school, Creston Christian School, and never missed any of their important events.

Barb’s favorite way to nurture her family and friends was through her wonderful cooking. Each delicious bite was infused with her love and generously served. Barb could heartily feed a group in the snap of a finger, and she relished in cutting others a break while doing the work of creating a feast. For many years, she fed the entire family every other Sunday making every aspect of the meal and thoroughly enjoying knowing she had freed everyone else up to enjoy a day of being pampered by her. Truly, Barb loved nothing more than having her family together; she relished in being enveloped by the chaotic energies that came with being their hostess.

Despite the abundant activity in the home, Barb ran a tight ship and kept an extremely tidy house. Though the house was always clean, Friday’s were known as “Serious Cleaning Day” when furniture was frequently moved, and the rare dust bunny feared for its life. She loved decorating the house for the holidays finding inspiration from magazines. Barb’s attention to detail and passion for creating an inviting space also resulted in her nurturing beautiful flower gardens where her green thumb masterfully cultivated robust geraniums and huge Jade Trees. Everything flourished in the reflection of Barb’s loving touch.

Not only did Barb masterfully run her household, she also unwaveringly supported Bob in all of his efforts. When Bob went out on his own as a plumber, Barb ran the office. She juggled the phone calls, paperwork, scheduling, and finding Bob in the days before pagers and cell phones with efficiency, organization, and signature grace. She unhesitatingly supported the risks Bob took with the houses on Spring Lake, Lake Michigan, and Perch Lake, often successfully managing several homes all at once. Barb also helped create many family vacations over the years including favorite travels to Sault Ste Marie, Big Star Lake, and Gun Lake.

With an innate drive to learn and grow, Barb explored her Christian faith not only through her memberships at West Leonard Christian Reformed Church, Riverside CRC, and Sunshine Church, she was actively involved in a Bible Study Fellowship and strove to embody her faith in every aspect of her life. She loved puzzles and read a lot too. It was not uncommon, in those rare moments she was still, to find Barb reading her favorite Inspirational Fiction.

Once the boys were grown, Barb returned to work. For over 35 years Barb brought her enthusiasm and love for people to Russ’ on Plainfield Avenue. Barb never met a stranger and with firm roots in her faith easily made friends everywhere she went. Both coworkers and customers alike were blessed by her sincere affections, interest, and service over the years. In Barb’s heart, everyone fully knew they were family and that she’d do anything for them.

Barb possessed a deep love for water and especially enjoyed taking long walks along the beach, sitting in the sun, and people watching. She enjoyed the YMCA water aerobics at both Forest Hills and in Belmont locations where she quickly made many dear friends. Later in life, she enjoyed spending winters in Siesta Key with Bob where she also easily made another special circle of friends.

While Barb adored her family of men, she thrilled at welcoming daughters into the family when her sons married. Her heart grew even more upon the gift of her first grandchildren being girls! Barb doted on her granddaughters with loads of dresses and a treasure trove of lace. She was a very involved grandma who loved to play with the kids. Her incredible Easter Egg hunts, Saturday gatherings at the family cottage, and Labor Day weekends as an entire family in Mackinaw City will long be held as some of the family’s most treasured memories with Barb.

The depth of Barb’s goodness and grace was never more apparent than in the face of Life’s challenges. For 51 years, she tirelessly cared for and advocated for her son David. Regardless of any difficulty, whether physical pain or the frustrations that came with Dementia, Barb always poised herself with dignity, hope, and perseverance. In so doing, not only did she live her faith, she inspired others to live bravely as well.

After many years of being the source of primary care for so many others, Barb’s last years required her to allow others to return her loving care. With Barb’s life as their model, Bob and the rest of her family assured her safety and well being, allowing her to live the rest of her days in the comforts of home.

Without a doubt, the world feels significantly duller without Barb’s bright and beautiful light. May there be comfort in knowing that Barb’s legacy of strength, faith, and love shines on in the hearts and lives of those who were blessed to know her; and that she would want nothing more than for her loved ones to continue to have the great lives she worked so hard to help them create.

Barbara K. Overbeek, age 78 of Grand Rapids, passed away July 19, 2017. She was preceded in death by her brother, Robert Vander Woude. Barb is survived by her husband of nearly 60 years, Robert W.; their children Dan & Lori, Craig & Marilee, Dave, Curt & Gwen; grandchildren (and great- grandchildren) Sara & Will Almeida (Asher, Gratian), Andrew Overbeek, Rebecca Overbeek, Kaylie & Bill Richardson (Ava), Maggie, Hannah and Nick Overbeek; sister, Mary Jackman; sisters-in-law and brother-in-law Carole VanderWoude, Ron & Linda Overbeek; as well as nieces and nephews. The service to remember and celebrate Barb's life will be held on Monday, July 24 at 11:30 AM at Riverside Christian Reformed Church where friends may visit with her family from 10 AM until the service. For those who wish, memorial contributions to either Guiding Light Mission or St. Jude Children's Hospital are appreciated. To read more about Barb, to share a memory or photo, or to sign her guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com