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Life Story / Obituary
With unfailing faith, Eleanor Ruth Mulder Hollebeek lived her life in steadfast service to those she loved. A devoted wife, loving mother, and treasured grandmother, Ruth cherished nothing more than her family. Whether knitting a special gift or singing a favorite hymn, Ruth wove her generous heart and faith into everything she did. Treasured by many, Ruth will be deeply missed by those who will proudly carry her legacy forward in their daily lives.
1928 continued to ride the decade’s roaring wave of peace, prosperity, and hope. The nation celebrated the recent inventions of Penicillin, the iron lung, bubble gum, and the Yo-Yo, as well as Charles Lindbergh’s Congressional Medal of Honor and Amelia Earhart becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. As the wave of sweeping social and economic growth rapidly increased, nowhere was there more hope for the future than in the Grand Rapids home of Henry and Ethel (Visser) Mulder as they welcomed their daughter into their hearts on December 17th.
Growing up in Southwest Grand Rapids, Ruth was the middle child and only daughter of the Mulders. With the good company of her brothers Warren and Dennis, Ruth enjoyed the good care of their loving parents. Ruth’s father provided for the family by working as a salesman for W. Dykstra and Son, a supplier to 5 & 10 cent stores. Her mother, who immigrated from the Netherlands, lovingly served as a homemaker. Ruth vividly remembered throughout her entire life being hit by a car at age seven. The family attended Bethel Christian Reformed Church for many years and later after it closed they became members at Lee St. Christian Reformed Church; their Christian values served as the firm foundation which served as Ruth’s compass all the days of her life.
From an early age, Ruth celebrated a special gift for music. While attending Southwest Christian School and Grand Rapids Christian High School, Ruth’s love of singing inspired her participation in many singing groups. She enjoyed her time with the High School Glee Club, various church choirs, and The Calvin College Oratorio Society. She also relished in the privilege of singing duets with her brother Warren as well as performing many church solos. Though Ruth appreciated most music, her favorite music was sacred and choral music. A special joy for Ruth came with the pleasure of singing, she “sang unto the Lord as long as she lived: she praised her God while she had her being” Psalm 104:33.
Ruth proudly graduated high school in 1946 and in 1948 she had the good fortune of meeting her husband, Dick Hollebeek. Dick had recently returned from serving in the Army during WWII and was living with his mother and sister. Ruth and Dick met while attending Young Peoples of Bethel Church and soon recognized their hearts were destined for one another. After dating for over a year, Dick proposed at Johnson Park and the happy couple married on March 16, 1949, at Bethel Christian Reformed Church. After honeymooning in Chicago, Ruth and Dick first made their home in Hudsonville. Later, after spending some time living above their parents, Ruth and Dick finally settled on Naylor St SW where they lived for over 30 years.
Ruth felt particularly blessed by the good fortune of welcoming each of her five children; Tom, Barb, Carol, Dave, and Mark into her heart. Ruth’s gratitude was especially evident on the safe arrival of Carol in light of the scare that came with having fallen over a second story railing late in her pregnancy. Ruth taught her children to do right no matter what and that the wrong thing is the easiest thing. The family enjoyed several vacations at Silver Lake and once a train trip to Linden, WA to visit family.
Ruth loved babies her whole life and couldn't get enough time to be with them. Being a grandmother to her 15 grandchildren and 38 grandchildren filled her heart beyond words. She loved to share time with her family and unfailingly supported them in all their endeavors. Ruth lovingly created knitted gifts that embodied her spirit and will long serve as warm reminders for each of her loved ones. With each donning of a cap or curling up in a blanket, Ruth’s affections will be felt, and warm memories inspired.
For 68 years Ruth and Dick shared the life they carefully and lovingly built together. They were proud parents and grandparents serving as faith-filled role models and as a safe harbor to those they loved. Whether sharing the challenges and rewards of parenting, celebrating their faith, or traveling together, Ruth and Dick enjoyed the comforts of their union and the privilege of growing in the witness of one another. During their retirement years, Ruth and Dick bought a trailer and took many camping trips including to see the caves in Kentucky and enjoyed an Alaskan cruise, as well. They also took a very special trip to Europe to visit the places Dick had been during the war.
As a woman who had no want of material objects, it was evident to most that Ruth’s favorite possession was a relatively inexpensive crucifix necklace that Dick had bought her, for not only was it a token of Dick’s affections but an expression of her humble and unwavering faith. Ruth possessed a childlike faith; she felt no doubt but rather possessed the wide-eyed inspiration that comes from total faith and, like a child, expected awe-inspiring greatness. She knew God would be there when she called on Him, and unhesitatingly found comfort in the face of life’s challenges, often reminding others that, “This too shall pass.” It is in the comforts of her deep faith that Ruth passed away Monday, June 5, 2017, after spending nearly 13 years at the Christian Rest Home in a physically diminished state.
For those who knew her best may it provide great comfort to know that Ruth is free of her physical limitations and has joyfully taken her place among Heaven’s Choir of Angels. Though the world is surely less melodic in the absence of Ruth’s lyrical and inspiring presence, it is clear that her heart song will long live in the lives of those who were blessed to share her life.
E. Ruth (Mulder) Hollebeek, age 88, entered into her heavenly home on Monday, June 5, 2017. She was preceded in death by her brothers Warren and Dennis Mulder, and her granddaughter Katherine Hollebeek. She is survived by Dick, her husband of 68 years; her children, Thomas and Karen Hollebeek, Barbara and Bruce Engbers, Carol Hollebeek, David and Julie Hollebeek, Mark and Deborah Hollebeek; 15 grandchildren; 38 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. Friends may meet the family at Heritage Lifestory Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr NW on Wednesday from 6-8PM and for an hour prior to the service on Friday. Funeral services will be held Friday at the funeral home at 11AM. Memorial contributions may be made to the Christian School of one's choice. To read Ruth's lifestory, to leave a memory or to sign her online guestbook, please visit www.lifestorynet.com