Gertrude Bouwkamp

June 17, 1923 - September 19, 2015
Grand Rapids, MI



Tuesday, September 22, 2015
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Van Strien Chapel
1833 Plainfield Ave., N.E
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
(616) 361-2613
Driving Directions

Thursday, September 24, 2015
3:00 PM to 4:00 PM EDT
East Leonard Christian Reformed Church
1027 Leonard Street NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505


Thursday, September 24, 2015
4:00 PM EDT
East Leonard Christian Reformed Church
1027 Leonard Street, NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

East Leonard Christian Reformed Church
1027 Leonard NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Although her life was filled with countless experiences that greatly enriched the lives of those around her, there was nothing that made a more significant impact in the lives of others her than the way that Gertrude Bouwkamp quietly and selflessly served others. She was someone who was content in whatever came her way, holding fast to her faith as the storms of life blew in at times. A perfect helpmate to her husband, Gert made it seem effortless to raise a household of six bustling children and everything that keeping their busy household afloat required. She had a good sense of humor and at times could be really witty, and her zest for life was contagious. Although Gert will be deeply missed, she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will proudly carry on in her footsteps.

The Roaring Twenties were an exciting time to be an American. Refrigerators and washing machines became part of our homes while radios changed the way we got our news and enjoyed a relaxing evening. The silent film era came to an end, and the lights of Broadway never shined brighter. Amidst this vibrant time was a time of great excitement for John and Jennie (Van Netten) Nyholt as they welcomed the healthy baby girl they named Gertrude in the family home at 1251 Valley, NW, on June 17, 1923. She was the third of six children, joining her older sisters, Rena and Elsie, and her younger siblings, Eli, Frank, and Theresa, in the family.

In many ways, Gert was a typical young girl of her generation. She enjoyed ice skating on Richmond Pond and she also liked playing outdoors. Gert and her family attended West Leonard Christian Reformed Church, and she attended West Side Christian School and then Union High School. She made some money babysitting, often for the neighbor boys, and she later worked as a soda jerk at a drug store at Alpine and Leonard. Gert particularly loved listening to the music on the jukebox there and knew all the current songs.

Life was forever changed for Gert when she met the young man of her dreams while she and a girlfriend were walking on Leonard after church one Sunday night. His name was Lawrence "Larry" Bouwkamp, and sparks flew right from the start. They set a date for the following week and went to Grand Haven and out for ice cream. Love blossomed, and with a desire to establish a life together, Gert and Larry were married on May 15, 1942, at her parents’ home. They professed their faith and became members of East Leonard Christian Reformed Church later that same year. Larry found work in Detroit, so that is where they moved. Just six months later he was drafted into the service, and Gert moved back to Grand Rapids where she gave birth to their first child, Nancy.

With his military duties fulfilled, Larry returned home where the family grew to include five more children over the next 16 years: David, John, Joyce, Roger, and Tim. At first their growing family moved around a bit, but they then built a home on Coldbrook, NE, and later moved to their home on Leonard in 1966. While Larry worked, Gert stayed home and cared for her family. For awhile the kids came home from school for lunch, which was always ready and waiting. Of course she always covered the meal with a heartfelt prayer first. Maintaining order for such a busy family took work, but routines were very important. Saturday night was hamburger night, and there was often dessert after the meal, too. Gert truly enjoyed cooking and baking with some of their favorites being her potato salad, ritz cracker dessert, and homemade pie crusts that showcased her amazing apple pie. Gert also did a lot of canning various fruits and vegetables.

There was plenty of time for fun in the Bouwkamp family, too. They regularly made trips to Knapp Avenue Creamery where Gert ordered a lime soda. During the summer as a young family they rented a cottage for a week or so, but they later became campers, first in tents and later in trailers. Gert often stayed at the campsite with the kids while Larry commuted back for work.

Although her family was always first and foremost, Gert did keep busy with other things, too. She bowled for a time including on a couples league. Church activities also kept her busy including adult Bible studies, Sunday school, and as the president of the friendship guild. For the most part, Gert didn’t enjoy being in charge as she preferred to work behind the scenes. At home she enjoyed reading, and she was an amazing seamstress who made curtains and dresses including Joyce’s wedding dress as well as leisure suits for her sons. Later on, she also got into crocheting. For years Gert kept the books for Larry’s business.

As her kids got older, Sundays after church were always open at Gert and Larry’s house for coffee and desserts, which she prepared on Saturday. With a servant’s heart, her family often had to remind her to sit down and relax! Gert truly enjoyed seeing her grandchildren and keeping up with what was going on with their lives. During their retirement years, she and Larry often spent some time in Palmetto, Florida, but she was always eager to return home, too. Gert enjoyed playing games like from crossword puzzles by herself, playing along with Jeopardy, Phase 10, and Rummikub. After living on Cranbrook during their later years, they moved to the Christian Rest Home when their health deteriorated, particularly Gert’s memory. She was deeply saddened with his death in December of 2013. Gert remained at Christian rest home where her family still gathered weekly to visit.

With unending devotion to her family, her church community, and her numerous friends, Gertrude Bouwkamp was a blessing to everyone she met. She was a strong Christian woman whose faith was unwavering, and she trained her children to be the grown adults who made her so very proud - and gave her the grandchildren she adored! Gert and Larry exemplified what marriage is truly intended to be, and her family finds comfort in knowing that they have been reunited in their heavenly home.

Gertrude Bouwkamp, age 92 of Grand Rapids, went to be with her Lord and Savior on September 19, 2015. She was preceded in death by her husband, Lawrence, in 2013. Mrs. Bouwkamp is survived by her children Nancy (Jerry) Hoekstra, David (Mary) Bouwkamp, John (Nancy) Bouwkamp, Joyce (Chuck) Van Dongen, Roger(Carol) Bouwkamp, Tim (Jane) Bouwkamp; 18 grandchildren, 24 great grandchildren; brothers, Eli Nyholt, Frank (Julia) Nyholt; sister Theresa Radeck, and nieces and nephews. Her funeral service will be held on Thursday, September 24 at 4 PM at East Leonard Christian Reformed Church, 1027 Leonard NE. Friends are invited to visit with her family on Tuesday, September 22 from 5-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE and on Thursday at the church from 3 PM until the time of the service. For those who wish, memorial contributions to East Leonard CRC are appreciated. To read more about Gertrude's life, to share a memory or to sign her guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com