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Life Story / Obituary
Outgoing and with a true heart for people, Donna Veenstra was a good friend and a caring member of her community. She willingly, in fact eagerly, gave of her time and energy to make life better for others. Her bubbly nature, solid work ethic, and strong sense of morality were perfectly suited for her many leadership roles at school, work, church, and most importantly, within her family.
The spring of 1930 was a tough time for many in the United States. The Stock Market Crash of ‘29 had sent the economy into a tailspin and the beginning of the decade saw nearly a quarter of the work force unemployed. Despite the tension and uncertainty about the future, Clyde and Lucille (Miche) Mackey had something to look forward to; they were expecting a baby and were thrilled when little Donna arrived on June 2 of that year.
Growing up, money was tight for everyone and Donna, along with her three siblings, learned how to make do with what she had and to be grateful to God for providing it. The family moved around a lot, but her parents were grateful to have work. Donna’s father was a salesman at Sears Automotive and Lucille was a secretary. Her faith and her family were Donna’s top two priorities, and they stayed that way for the rest of her life.
Involved and hardworking, Donna was a top student at Union High School in Grand Rapids. She played on both the softball and basketball teams and was the editor of the school yearbook. She loved singing and took every opportunity that school gave her. After graduating from Union, she took some courses at Grand Rapids Junior College.
Donna’s people skills made her a great hire as a soda jerk at Odie’s Drug Store, a job which turned out to provide her with much more than just a paycheck. She met a young man there named Bill Veenstra and the two hit it off quickly. Almost before she knew it, Bill proposed, and on May 13, 1950, Donna and Bill exchanged wedding vows at Richmond Reformed Church, just a few weeks before her twentieth birthday.
Donna and Bill were blessed with five children: Shari, Scott, Jan, Brent, and Julie. As they added to their number, Donna’s heart kept expanding and overflowing with joy for their times together and hope for their futures. The kids were always active in sports and other school activities which Donna shuttled them to and from. They also spent record amounts of time in the car on an epic vacation across the country. They took all five kids with a station wagon and a trailer across the country to California, with visits to Yellowstone, Yosemite, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Jackson Hole, and other not-to-be-missed locations.
Besides her job at Odie’s, Donna worked in other capacities over the years, such as a bookkeeper for Ruster Dairy, and several secretarial jobs at places like Trinity Reformed and Oakleigh School. Her choice of long-term employment demonstrated her commitment to God and His work. She gave forty years to Words of Hope, a Grand Rapids-based ministry utilizing radio and other media to share the message of salvation through Jesus Christ alone. She was excited to watch the ministry grow over the years to include global partners that exponentially increased the number of people who were reached. Working in public relations, she presented Words of Hope’s work across the country.
The church family at Richmond Reformed was a blessing and comfort to Donna and Bill for many years. Donna sang in the choir, often as a soprano soloist. She also blessed other churches in the Grand Rapids area with special music. She served on mission trips to Brewton, Alabama, and Chiapas, Mexico. Besides her many church activities, Donna volunteered as president of the local Women’s Guild and as president of the Walker Station PTA. She was also involved at the state level PTA. She led the Walker 4-H chapter and served in several other volunteer capacities.
Her volunteer activities kept her busy, but Donna had other interests as well. Donna and Bill traveled extensively, visiting all fifty states and Canada. They enjoyed camping, golf tournaments, and for several years they attended Bill and Gloria Gaither’s Praise Gathering in Indianapolis. They had a timeshare in Orange Lake, Florida, that was a nice home away from home, and they always made time for their grandchildren’s events. She loved sports and enjoyed catching up on the Detroit Tigers’ standings. Around the house, she could often be heard singing along to hymns and Broadway musicals. But her favorite way to relax was with a good book.
Donna had a strong sense of right and wrong and practiced what she preached about morality and serving others, but she also understood that despite her best efforts, she fell short of perfection and needed forgiveness from God. She had found peace with Him by believing that Jesus had suffered and died in her place and she worked faithfully to let others know that they, too, could be forgiven. She leaves her family with a legacy of faith, service, and love that will continue to influence them for years to come.
Donna died with her loving family by her side on Tuesday, July 26, 2016. She is survived by her husband of sixty-six years; her children: Shari (Richard) Jonsson of Holland, Scott Veenstra of Dollar Bay, Janis Huisman of Boynton Beach, Florida, Brent (Julie Haines) Veenstra of Pinckney, and Julie (Rob) Cordes of Comstock Park; grandchildren: Anna, Aaron, Sarah, Jessie, Kerry, Lindsay, Kelsey, Christopher, Charlee, Cassee, and Cristee; eight great grandchildren; her brother, Dick (Barb) Mackey of Grand Rapids; sister, Bonnie Meyer of Grand Rapids; and sister-in-law, Ginny Mackey of Cadillac; and many nieces and nephews. Donna was preceded in death by her brother, Bob Mackey.
Visitation will be Friday, July 29, 2016, from 2-4 p.m. and from 6-8 p.m. at the Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. A funeral service will be held Saturday, July 30, 2016, at 1:00 p.m. at the Richmond Reformed Church, 1814 Walker Ave NW. Entombment will be Monday, August 1, 2016, at 11 a.m. in Rosedale Memorial Park. Memorials may be made to Christian Rest Home Association and Words of Hope. Please visit Donna's personal web page at www.lifestorynet.com where you may share a favorite memory or photo, share condolences, and sign her online guest book.