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American Red Cross
1050 Fuller Av NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
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Life Story / Obituary
With an enormous heart, deep convictions, and tremendous grace, Edith “Edie” Bylsma lived her life with passionate devotion to the family she so deeply treasured. A wonderful wife, amazing mother and delightful grandmother, Edie’s beautiful legacy is a carefully sewn tapestry of conscious care for others, perseverance, and joy in the simple things. Loved by many, Edie will be long remembered and deeply missed.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, 1934 gave birth to many celebrated firsts. Flash Gordon made his debut while Fuji Photo Film first captured memories. The Three Stooges took center stage in their first short while the nation also met Donald Duck. The rays of Hope peeked through the clouds of despair in America when unemployment decreased to 22% marking the turning point in the Great Depression. Nowhere was there a greater sense of hope than in Grand Rapids, Michigan as Isaac and Jesse Buitendyk of Grand Rapids welcomed their daughter Edith into their hearts and home on May 3rd.
Like many young families, the Buitendys keenly felt the constraints of the times and both Isaac and Jesse took on factory jobs to help meet their family’s needs. Isaac worked for Wolverine Shoes, and Jesse worked for R. C. Allen. Later on, Jesse found work in retail sales at Herpolsheimer's Department Store. After Isaac left the family when Edie and her older brother Isaac Jr. were quite young, Jesse took on working two jobs in order to make ends meet. Eddie attended East Leonard Elementary school. As she grew older Edie, learned to sew her own clothes and babysat to help contribute to the household income. During high school, she worked the soda fountain at Hoxie’s Drug Store too.
After proudly graduating from Creston High School with the class of 1952, Edie worked a job in the personnel department at RC Allen. After a short time, she took a job as a clerk at American Auto Felt and then worked for Haskelite Manufacturing. In 1954 Edie married and welcomed her beautiful daughter Vicki who was the great gift of a short marriage. After divorcing in 1959, Edie concentrated her life on the good care of her precious daughter. In July of 1961, a friend set Edie up on a blind date with Ron Bylsma. The chemistry was instant, and the happy couple decided to marry four months later on November 10, 1961. As they had both been previously married, Edie and Ron chose to create a small intimate wedding. They were married by the local Justice of the Peace whose wife stood as witness for both of them and followed the ceremony with dinner at Miera’s Beef About Restaurant. After dinner, they went to Ron’s parents’ home for pictures and then set off for a Detroit honeymoon.
Once returned from their honeymoon, Edie and Ron created a home for themselves and their four children in an apartment on Richards NW in a house that was scheduled to be demolished to make way for the freeway. Forced to move, the family found themselves living above a paint store on Alpine. Shortly thereafter, the couple moved their family to 3100 Hoehns NW where the children were raised, and the couple lived for the next 30 years. Edie was her family’s compass providing a sense of center that was based on equality and love. Regardless of being a blended family, all the children were held as equals in Edie’s heart. There was no such thing as a “stepchild” for Edie who embraced her role as mother with honor and delight. It was abundantly clear to Vicki, Terri, Ron, and Ken that because of Edie’s steadfast efforts they had something special and the family grew to be quite close.
After the children were grown, Edie returned to school to sharpen her skills. Soon she became the head secretary at City High School where she lovingly cared for the students and staff alike until she retired in 1992.
Though Edie’s greatest passion was for her family, she also had many other interests. She continued to sew throughout her life lovingly creating many treasured pieces for her family and friends. Jazz proved Edie’s music of choice. She especially enjoyed the tunes of her youth. An accomplished bowler, Edie shared many a good time striking down pins at the local alley. When Ron’s interest in motorcycling grew from dirt bikes to road bikes, he and Edie shared many an adventure traveling on their Honda Gold Wing with friends who were fellow bikers. In early retirement, the couple traveled extensively. They traveled to all of the states except for Alaska, visited Canada, made trips to Mexico, explored Europe, and took Mediterranean cruises.
Edie’s favorite adventures were those that centered around sharing time with her grandchildren for there truly was no greater joy for Edie than the gift of sharing time with Paul, Michelle, Sara, Melissa, Lindsay, Aryn, Leanne, and Lori. Being able to welcome her great-grandchildren, Shelby, Hudson, Izzie, Aiden, Hadley, and Logan, into her heart afforded more joy than words could describe. It was in the eyes of all these precious children that Edie glimpsed the spark of her legacy and knew in her heart she had lived well.
Never was Edie’s resolve more tested than in the wake of Ron’s sudden death in December of 2007. With her long-honed fortitude and hope, Edie chose to center herself in faith that Ron was at peace and despite the deep grief she felt, her task was to continue to embrace the good in each day. That challenge was eased by the devoted care of her treasured family and friends. Edie soon left the family home and moved to Boulder Creek Assisted Living where she enjoyed the comforts of living in a supportive community of peers who shared a common history and faith. It was in this supportive environment that Edie spent her final years, enveloped in the love of skilled providers and a family of friends.
To those who knew Edie best, it seems fitting that she be called to her eternal life during the Easter season; a season of hope, transformation, and new beginnings; a season that acknowledges the sacrifices and gifts of a life well lived; a season we easily imagine Edie being lovingly greeted with the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…” Well done.
BYLSMA – Edith R. Bylsma aged 82, of Grand Rapids, passed away on April 17, 2017. She was preceded in death by her husband, Ronald in 2007; and brother, Isaac Buitendyk Jr. Edie is survived by her children, Vicki (Rick) Davidson, Terri (Dave) Arends, Ron (Cindi) Bylsma, and Ken (Pam) Bylsma; grandchildren, Paul (Missy) Arends, Michelle Arends, Sara (Matt) Stelwagen, Melissa (Rob) Nyland, Lindsay Bylsma, Aryn (Brian) Kukulski, Leanne Davidson, and Lori Davidson; great-grandchildren, Shelby and Hudson Arends, Izzie and Aiden Arends, Hadley Nyland, and Logan Kukulski; sister-in-law, Esther (Karl) Wierenga; and several nieces and nephews. The Funeral Service will be held at 11:30 AM on Thursday, April 20, 2017, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 851 Leonard St. NW. Friends may visit with the family for one hour prior to the service. Contributions in her memory may be made to Alzheimer’s Association, American Red Cross or Faith Hospice. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read her lifestory, archive a memory, photo, or sign the guestbook online.