Betty Folkertsma

May 1, 1924 - June 21, 2016
Grand Rapids, MI



Thursday, June 23, 2016
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 453-8263
Driving Directions

Friday, June 24, 2016
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EDT
West Leonard Christian Reformed Church
corner Leonard and Powers NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504


Friday, June 24, 2016
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM EDT
West Leonard Christian Reformed Church
corner of Leonard and Powers NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504


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.

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Michgian
549 Ottawa NW Suite 307
Grand Rapids, MI 49503


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


With ways all her own, there was only one Betty Folkertsma. Always loving and devoted, Betty was dedicated through her unending love and commitment to family. Betty was a woman who carried herself with grace in the most classic sense of the word. Always a lady, she was proper in every respect which was reflected in her demeanor, even when she was a little feisty. All the more reason to love her, Betty’s life was enriched in countless ways and for these things and so much more, she will be fondly remembered.

Betty’s story began during a time of economic prosperity as industry and the need for consumer goods rose. While jazz dominated the music sector, 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. This was especially true for Charles Jakubowski when during his youth he was counted among many who emigrated to the U.S. from Poland. Settling in the community of Dorr, Michigan with his wife, Pearl (Blaine), the Jakubowski’s were elated to announce the birth of their little girl, Betty Louise on May 1, 1924.

One of five children, Betty joined her older sister, Dorothy, and later welcomed younger siblings, Jeanne, Chuck, and Sally. Her father was a hardworking farmer while her mother tended to their family as a busy homemaker. Despite the tumultuous times of the Great Depression, growing up on the family farm offered much adventure for a young girl like Betty. She and her siblings had their share of chores around the house and farm, and all while attending to their studies. Betty attended Wayland Elementary School. She held fond memories of roller skating down Main Street in Dorr, and once while out riding around with friends, they rolled over in a Model T. After getting help to roll the vehicle back over, no one was thankfully hurt, and no one was the wiser.

Although Betty left Dorr at the age of 16, she went on to graduate from Wayland High School. During this time, she worked in nearby Grand Rapids as a waitress at the Our CafĂ© Restaurant. Shortly after she began working there, Betty’s life was forever changed when she met a handsome young man by the name of Bill Folkertsma. Quite smitten from the start, Bill’s mother was less than enthusiastic about her Dutch Protestant son dating a Polish girl. Even so, Bill quickly became the love of Betty’s life, and the feeling was mutual.

Betty and Bill dated for a time before Bill was called to serve with the U.S. Marines during World War II. While stationed in California, Betty visited Bill, having made the long trip by train that she always recalled as being less than pleasant. Although wounded, following Bill’s honorable discharge, he and Betty were happily married on June 21, 1946, at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. With their shared lover for the outdoors, they spent a memorable honeymoon in Canada camping and fishing.

The newlyweds first lived at Bostwick Lake near Rockford before acquiring an apartment on Arianna NW. In the 1950s they moved to their one and only home at 3533 Leonard Street NW which provided Betty and Bill with numerous years of unforgettable memories. Even though Betty now and then held a variety of part-time jobs, her main focus was being a devoted wife and mother. Early on, she and Bill lost two children in infancy, and sadly, their daughter, Pamela passed away in 1959. Betty made a good, loving home for Bill and their three remaining children, Ken, Lisa, and Betsy.

Betty and her family enjoyed many trips to Burt Lake, their cabin at Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and Charlevoix, including times spent at Suttons Bay and Northport. Later in their lives, Betty and Bill spent a few years wintering in Florida but it wasn’t something she particularly favored due to the area being “full of old people!” She loved going out to eat, especially to the Yellow Jacket, the Shawmut Inn, or Turk's in Nunica. She herself was a great cook, making many family favorites including her delicious pot roast and fried chicken, both of which were hard to beat.

Becoming a grandmother truly found Betty in her element. She loved her family, yet her grandchildren were a special source of pride for her. Throughout her life, Betty’s love for music never waned. She taught herself to play the organ which gave her great pleasure. She loved the sounds of her youth, including old hymns, music by the Gaithers, big band music, and jazz. In addition to music, Betty loved tending to her gardens, fishing, boating, and camping. She so enjoyed scooting around in her golf cart or just spending quiet time in the back shed with the wood burning stove which provided her with a cozy atmosphere.

When Betty’s beloved Bill died in September of 2005, it was indeed a troubling time for her. After 59 years of marriage and longer sharing a deep, abiding love, there was difficulty in finding a new way of living without him. She placed her efforts into her family, and dear friends saw her through. In later years, Betty volunteered her time at the West Leonard CRC Mission store, the Christian Rest Home where she folded laundry and at her current residence, Green Acres where she tended the flowers.

With a class all her own, Betty Folkertsma carried herself with grace and kindness. Ever loving to those she held most dear, she will be remembered fondly for her refined spirit and inviting nature. Betty possessed the quality of nurturing goodness and welcomed all with open arms. Although deeply missed, Betty joined her beloved Bill in their heavenly home on none other than their wedding anniversary. And her family finds comfort in knowing they are together again, at last.

Mrs. Betty Folkertsma, age 92, passed away Tuesday, June 21, 2016. She was preceded in death by her husband, Bill; an infant son and daughter; her daughter, Pamela; and by her sister, Dorothy Bergen. Betty is survived by her children, Ken and Kate Folkertsma, Lisa and Tony Blahnik, Betsy and Bruce Vugteveen; grandchildren, Jason (Katrina) Folkertsma, Mary Folkertsma, Courtney (Sarah) Clifton, Jeanne Clifton, Amanda Gritters (Brad), Krista Vugteveen, and Tyler Vugteveen; several great-grandchildren; her siblings, Mary Jean (Charles) Gray, Sandra “Sally” Kraft, and Chuck (Bev) Jacobs; many nieces and nephews.

Funeral services for Betty will be held Friday, June 24, 2016, 11:00 AM at West Leonard Christian Reformed Church, corner of Powers and Leonard NW. Friends may meet her family Thursday, June 23, 2016 from 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. and at church for one hour prior to the service. Interment in Washington Park Memorial Gardens. Memorial contributions may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Michigan, 549 Ottawa NW, Suite 307, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. To share a favorite memory or photo of Betty and to sign her online guest book, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.