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.
Walker United Reformed Church
1941 Randall NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned nearly a century, Gertrude Dykstra made a significant impact in the lives of so many others. She was generous and giving with just the right amount of spunk mixed in. A more devoted wife and mother would be hard to find, although Gertrude just may have argued that becoming a grandmother and great-grandmother was her richest reward. Life will never be the same without her here, but she leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.
Almost a century has passed since our nation was thrust into the fight for the preservation of freedom during WWI. Although we had hoped to remain neutral, repeated acts of hostility in the Pacific left President Woodrow Wilson with no choice but to engage in the perils of war until the war’s end in November of 1918. It was just after the end of the war that George and Alice (Hall) Schievink were pleased to announce the birth of the baby girl they named Gertrude A. on October 5, 1919, in Paris, Michigan. She was the fourth of ten children as she was joined in her family by her older siblings, Joanne, Harland, and Evelyn, and her younger siblings, Helen, George Jr., Arlene, Elaine, John, and Bill.
The majority of Gertrude’s childhood was spent in the Grand Rapids area, first on the Northeast side of town. There, she attended Beckwith Elementary. Gertrude later moved to the West Side with her family where she attended Walker Elementary School. With a large family, the Great Depression hit the Schievinks hard as there was little to go around. Gertrude spoke of her first mattress being one that was filled with straw, and her childhood was also filled with washing clothes in a tub on the back porch and having to use an outhouse. Because of the size of their family, Gertrude had a lot of responsibilities and also regularly helped out with her younger siblings. Raised in a Christian home, their family attended East Leonard Christian Reformed Church. They later found a church home at Walker Christian Reformed Church after moving to the West Side. As was fairly common during her generation, Gertrude left school after the eighth grade to help out around the home. Her older siblings worked outside the home to help bring in extra money for the family. Gertrude also earned some money by cleaning a house.
Not to be forgotten during her formative years was Gertrude’s introduction to the young man of her dreams. His name was Richard Dykstra, and it didn’t take them long to fall in love. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, the sweethearts were married on January 21. With a husband who was a jack of all trades within the construction industry, they moved several times throughout their married life. In fact, Gertrude estimated that they moved more than 30 times! Together they welcomed three girls including Carol, Jerri, and Nancy over a span of 12 years. Gertrude ran a tight ship at home and was never one to sit down. She had a routine for everything from cleaning routines to dinnertime routines including pork chops on Mondays and hamburgers on Saturdays. Gertrude especially loved being in the kitchen as she was known for her chocolate chip cookies. On Christmas she loved making a dish she called “chicken deluxe,” and she also made a fantastic apple pie. For years Gertrude was the one to host Christmas at her home, and she truly enjoyed all of the preparations. As a family they did some traveling including a memorable trip to Washington, D.C. among other car trips as well.
Throughout her life, Gertrude was a woman of many interests. She and Rich loved keeping up with the Tigers, and she often ironed during evening games. This served her well since ironing was her outlet for her nervousness and energy for the game. They even went to a couple of games a year, and during their retirement years they went down to watch them for spring training in Florida. While her girls were in school Gertrude volunteered with their 4-H cooking program, and she was also active in the ladies aid circle at church.
As her family grew over the years, Gertrude continued to treasure every moment they spent together. She was so thankful to live near several of her grandchildren, and she was always there to help out with them when needed. Gertrude made a significant imprint on all their lives as she exemplified what it means to be humble, selfless, caring, and sweet. In addition, she was one of their strongest supporters as she was there for all her grandchildren’s events and activities. Gertrude was all about relationships with people as she looked forward to weekly breakfast outings with her sisters for years. Both she and Rich also enjoyed visiting with friends. Although Gertrude loved basking in the warmth of the sun in Florida with Rich during a couple of weeks every winter later in life, she always did enjoy getting back home to her family. She did enjoy shopping as well.
Life wasn’t without challenges for Gertrude at times, but she was strong and resilient. Living through the Great Depression as a child was difficult, and she also battled breast cancer in her seventies. Gertrude worked hard to care for Rich while he battled pulmonary fibrosis until he passed away in 1996. Although she was fiercely independent and even a bit stubborn at times, Gertrude was so thankful to remain in her home with the help of her family. She was always very gracious and didn’t ever want to be a burden to her loved ones. Even when being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Gertrude’s kind and tender spirit was easy to see.
With unending love for her family, Gertrude Dykstra was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She had a good sense of humor and knew how to banter back and forth, which made her so much fun to be around. Gertrude was selfless in everything she did, and her devotion to her family and friends was unmatched. Deeply loved, she will be forever missed.
Gertrude A. Dykstra, age 98 of Grand Rapids, went home to be with her Lord on October 27, 2017. She was preceded in death by her husband, Richard, in 1996; her son-in-law Gordon VerWoert, and by several brothers and sisters. Gertrude is survived by her children Carol VerWoert, Jerri & John Velthouse, Nancy & Dr. David Kreuze; 14 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren; sister, Elaine (Bud) DeVries; brother Bill (Shirley) Schievink, and many nieces and nephews. Gertrude's funeral service will be held at 2:30 PM on Tuesday, October 31 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW where friends are invited to visit with her family on Monday from 6-8 PM and on Tuesday from 1:30 PM until the time of the service. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Walker United Reformed Church are appreciated. To read more about her life, to share a memory or sign her guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com