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Life Story / Obituary
Through the life, it was easy to see that Corinne Terkeurst treasured her faith and her family. She was compassionate, caring, and thoughtful of others with a strong spirit of generosity. Quiet, soft-spoken and unassuming, she avoided drawing attention to herself. However, those who spent time with her soon learned Corinne was highly intelligent, knew what she wanted, had a ready, sometimes wicked sense of humor and was totally down to earth. Devoted to her family from childhood, Corinne embraced her role as a wife and mother after marriage and eventually enjoyed the expansion of her family to include grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Deeply loved, Corinne will be forever missed.
Living in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Peter and Maria (Aarnoudse) Faasse announced the birth of the baby girl they named Jacoba on September 20, 1922. Coba, as she was called by family, was the second of five children which included siblings, William, Marcus, Jeanne, and Mary. Corinne and her family immigrated to the United States in 1929 when she was seven, settling in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This was the place she called home for the rest of her life. As was customary at that time, her name was “Americanized” by her school from Jacoba (Coba) to Corinne, the name she used for the rest of her life.
Her parents were hard workers, her father employed as a clerk in the great shipyards of Rotterdam harbor, and her mother running a small store the family owned. When they came to America, her father found work as a carpenter with various companies, and during the Great Depression when work was hard to find was a carpenter for the WPA. Corinne’s mother was a homemaker but also took on housecleaning jobs to help make ends meet. Corinne often went with her mother to assist with the dusting. Corinne was close to her siblings while growing up and continued frequent contact as they all became adults.
The family attended the Dutch Christian Reformed Church on Leonard Street where they attended long services in Dutch twice each Sunday. With the family living in an upstairs apartment, Corinne could often be found playing with her siblings and friends in the neighborhood parks. The family emphasized the importance of a good education and Corinne attended Hastings Street Christian School through the 8th grade, graduating the valedictorian of her class. Then she attended Central High School, graduating in 1940.
As a young woman Corinne worked through the WPA as an assistant in the school library, in addition to holding down her studies in high school. From 1940 through 1950, Corinne worked as a legal secretary at a local law firm, Knappen, Uhl, Bryant & Stowe. During WWII she volunteered as a “Gray Lady” at a local hospital, reading to the patients, emptying bedpans, and any task that could free up the nursing staff, who was in short supply due to the war. She also helped tend the family’s Victory Garden.
New and exciting changes were in store for Corinne after WWII, when she met the man of her dreams. His name was Jack Terkeurst, and he was the brother of her good friend, Nancy. Corinne was by then attending the First Methodist Church, and was in the choir with Jack’s sister Nancy. When Nancy and Corinne needed a ride home from choir practice one day, Jack obliged and met his future wife. They were soon dating, often double dating with Nancy and her boyfriend. Less than a year later, Corinne and Jack were engaged, and they married on April 12, 1947. The newlyweds took a brief honeymoon in Chicago, needing to return to work the next week. The problem of booking a hotel in Chicago was solved when her boss, Mr. Bryant, pulled some strings to set up a stay at the Palmer House, a story Corinne often told. The trip to Chicago took Corinne on her first flight in an airplane; although they returned in a less extravagant fashion on the train. The next summer the young couple took a longer honeymoon trip out West, visiting many of the national parks, family and friends along the way.
There was a housing shortage after WWII, so when first married, Corinne and Jack lived with her parents, and later in a two-room apartment sharing a bathroom down the hall. There was no kitchen, and they ate most meals out. Later they moved to an apartment with a few more conveniences, working hard all the time to save for a home. In 1949, they built a house at 2467 College Avenue, NE, which was close to many family members. This would be where they lived together for more than 60 years, until Jack died in 2012, and where Corinne stayed until she moved to Clark Retirement Community in 2014, where she continued to make new friends. In 1950, Karen was born, and Stephen, David, and Laura soon followed, blessing Corinne and Jack with four children in five years. Their small two-bedroom house was quite full so they finished the upstairs with the help of Corinne and Jack’s family. Later, a family room was added, which Corinne’s father helped finish.
Once her children were out of elementary school, Corinne returned to work as a secretary for various businesses, moving to full-time work with RC Allen from 1970 through 1987. After her retirement, she was employed part-time as a secretary and assistant to the music director at First United Methodist Church for almost a decade.
Corinne was actively involved in the lives of her children. She taught them invaluable life lessons such as how to manage finances, cooking and sewing, how to live a frugal lifestyle, and how to be self-sufficient. Corinne was loving, nurturing, and a great listener. The family enjoyed many gatherings with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, both at family homes and at area lakes and parks. Corinne and Jack enjoyed travel and the family looked forward to summer vacations Sometimes they rented a friend’s cottage on a lake for a week. They took some longer trips, often to visit relatives in other states. There were also memorable family trips to the Upper Peninsula, around Lake Superior, and to Kentucky.
Throughout her life Corinne was an amazing woman. Growing up in an immigrant family, living through the Great Depression and experiencing the shortages during WWII, she learned the frugal values that are now considered ecologically responsible. While meeting the needs of a family on a single income, she would consider: can we fix it? can I make it? do we need it? before she made purchases. The family always had everything they needed, and some of what they wanted. What they did have was good quality and lasted. A talented seamstress, she sewed and tailored stylish clothing for herself and the children. Corinne prepared well-balanced, tasty and healthy meals for the family. She was an excellent baker and known for her pies, Christmas cookies and banket.
Corinne’s faith was the cornerstone of her life, and she was a member of the First United Methodist Church for 75 years. Family plans were arranged to accommodate Sunday School, church service and choir practice. She sang in the choir for more than 50 years and was also active in her church women’s group. Corinne loved music, and her children grew up in a home filled with classical music from radio or record player.
Corinne was an avid reader who enjoyed non-fiction and fiction, including mysteries and novels. She enjoyed various kinds of needlework, knitting clothing for herself and her daughters, afghans for the grandchildren, and making needlepoint pillows and wall hangings. Family and friends remember many chats with Corinne, while she sat in the living room, listening to classical music and doing her needlework. Corinne worked well into her seventies, but for many years, the couple spent the winter months in Florida where Corinne enjoyed friends and warm ocean views.
Truly beautiful on the inside and out, Corinne Terkeurst was a blessing to all who were near. Devoted to her faith, her family, and her friends, she made a significant impact in the lives of so many. Corinne leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on.
TERKEURST, Corinne, Grand Rapids, MI, Age 95, passed away March 9, 2018 with her loving family by her side. Corinne was born September 20, 1922 in Rotterdam, Netherlands to the late Peter & Maria (Aarnoudse) Faasse. On April 12, 1947 she married Jack Terkeurst who preceded her in death in 2012. Also preceding her in death are her siblings, William (Hazel) Faasse, Marcus Faasse, Jeanne (Robert) Westra, Mary (Sanford) DeHaan; son in law, James Foster; and daughter in law, Gayle (Russell) Terkeurst. Corinne is survived by her children, Karen Foster of Sandusky, Stephen Terkeurst of Flint, David (Peg) Terkeurst of Belmont, Laura (Peter) DeGuire of East Lansing; grandchildren, Katharine Foster, Keith Terkeurst, Scott (Angie) Terkeurst, Stefanie (David) Bowles, Brent (Katrina) Terkeurst, Daniel Terkeurst, Tricia Terkeurst, Lisa DeGuire; great grandchildren, Alexis, Makayla & Landon Terkeurst, Aria Terkeurst & Logan Bowles, Ella & Corinne (Cora) Terkeurst; and sisters in law, Louise Faasse and Marge DeHaan. Friends may visit with her family Wednesday, March 21, from 4-7 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE. A memorial service will be held Thursday, March 22, at 11 AM at First United Methodist Church, 227 E Fulton Street. Memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church or to Clark Retirement Communities Benevolent Fund. Please visit Corinne's web page to learn more of her life story, leave a memory or condolence for the family at www.lifestorynet.com.