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Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Dorothy Hoekwater, it is easy to see that her life was a reflection of what it means to be a woman of faith. She was faithful, yet she was also always looking to learn more about the faith that she held near and dear to her heart. A bit of a free spirit, Dorothy wasn’t afraid to speak her mind when it came to matters she was passionate about. With a deep love for her family, she treasured the moments she shared with the ones she loved. Although she will be deeply missed, Dorothy leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will forever cherish.
Nearly a century has passed since our nation was recognized as a world leader for the first time with the end of WWI in 1918. The years that followed were years of great prosperity, and with the eyes of the world focused on our shores we led the way in new innovation and technology that transformed the way we lived our every day lives. It was during this time of transition that William and Tena (Vander Schell) Hoekwater were pleased to announce the birth of the baby girl they named Dorothy on August 25, 1919, in Vogel City, Michigan. Her father was the sexton at the city cemetery while her mother was a busy homemaker. One of seven children in her family, Dorothy was joined in the Hoekwater clan by her siblings, Jeannet, Hilda, Marie, Jay, Arthur, and Baby Ruth who sadly died as an infant.
In many ways, Dorothy was a young woman of her generation. She and her family moved to Grand Rapids to live and work at the Edison Farm on Lake Michigan Drive. The family moved to 1046 Crosby Street at which time Dorothy’s father went to work in manufacturing at Haskelite. The Hoekwater family attended Calvary Church. In her late teens, Dorothy joined the Quarry Avenue Baptist Church which later relocated and changed their name to Highland Hills Baptist Church. She remained a member for the rest of her life, which was more than 80 years! She attended local schools and graduated from Union High School.
Dorothy remained living at home after all of her siblings moved out. Once her mother died she continued to stay until her father remarried. Although she never learned to drive, Dorothy walked, took the bus, and shared rides with family, friends, or co-workers for 97 years. She made her career working as a machine operator in manufacturing for various companies including Keeler Brass, Drueke Games, which is a company that makes wooden board games, and finally for the Clipper Belt Lacer Company. Dorothy remained there until retiring at the age of 63.
Although Dorothy was never married, the single life suited her well. She was presented with the opportunity to marry on two occasions, however she politely declined both times. The single life allowed Dorothy to travel extensively without the responsibilities of a family life. She was a very active part of her nieces and nephews’ lives as she was there for all the holiday and birthday celebrations. As the years went by, Dorothy became a great-great-aunt and took great pride in her three generations of nieces and nephews. Dorothy and her sister would often play Scrabble with the little ones to sharpen their minds.
Throughout her life Dorothy was a woman of many interests and liked being busy. She faithfully attended church and even sat in the same pew. Dorothy was an active member as well as she was a member of the missionary circle and often wrote cards and letters to other church members to offer encouragement and support. She stayed after church for Sunday school and her class, Maranatha, and she enjoyed numerous events and activities such as outings, fun day trips, and color tours. Dorothy faithfully gave of her time and resources, and she wasn’t hesitant to voice her opinion and then stand behind it when church decisions were being made. She loved to read Christian fiction, regularly checking books out from the church library. Dorothy loved eating out with friends with Cherrie Inn being one of her favorite places. She enjoyed hosting Sunday dinners for three or four guests. For most of her life, Dorothy especially loved traveling, and she went all over within the United States and abroad. She went to Europe three different times and also had many favorite destination locations closer to home. In addition to reading, Dorothy kept her mind sharp by watching Jeopardy every night at 7:30, and she also did some needlepoint. As someone who enjoyed being active, she liked taking care of her yard. Dorothy loved shopping for knick knacks and costume jewelry, especially rings. She had her own sense of style and often wore animal print clothing.
For most of her life, Dorothy was able to do the things she enjoyed doing with few limitations. She had many surgeries during her working years but always kept moving forward. Dorothy enjoyed the companionship of her niece, Priscilla, who came to live with her as a teenager. Throughout her life she had an excellent memory and always knew who visited her and when at the rest home. In fact, Dorothy also remembered what others shared during their visits and was able to update others.
With a life that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, Dorothy Hoekwater was a blessing in the lives of everyone she met. She was committed and faithful to her church and to God, and she was eager to serve in ways both great and small. Although opinionated and outspoken, she did become a bit more mellow as she got older. With unending love for her family, Dorothy will be forever missed.
Dorothy Hoekwater, Grand Rapids, MI, Age 97, passed away on April 5, 2017 at the Christian Rest Home. Dorothy was born on August 25, 1919 in Vogel Center, MI the daughter of the late William and Tena (Vander Schell) Hoekwater. Also preceding her in death were her brothers and sisters, Jeannet Vander Zouwen, Hilda Penninga, Marie Moerdyk, Jay Hoekwater, and Arthur Hoekwater. She is survived by her sister-in-law, Evelyn Hoekwater, many nieces and nephews, and special care givers, Lois (Jack) Nyenhuis and Bill Vander Zouwen. Dorothy was an active member of Highland Hills Baptist Church for 80 years. A funeral service will be held Monday April 10th at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Friends may visit with her family beginning at 10 AM. Interment will be in Greenwood Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Highland Hills Baptist Church. Please Visit Dorothy's personal web page to learn more of her life story, leave a memory or condolence at www.lifestorynet.com.