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.
Kalamazoo County Child Evangelism Fellowship
P.O. Box 2154
Portage, MI 49081
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Janet Bolhuis, it is clear to see that she lived to be the hands and feet of the Lord she loved. There was nothing that brought her more happiness than sharing with others the reason for the joy that was in her heart, and she loved bringing a smile to the face of all who were near. A longtime resident of the community she called home, there were few who didn’t know of Aunt Jan, and much of her work in ministry was done alongside the love of her life. A more devoted mother would be hard to find, and she was thrilled beyond measure to welcome grandchildren into the family as well. Life will never be the same without Jan here, but her legacy will remain alive and well in the hearts of all who were blessed to know and love her.
As 1940 dawned, America was still struggling to overcome the hardship of the Great Depression, and overseas we watched as WWII raged on. Although we had hopes of remaining neutral, those hopes were dashed with the attack on our naval base in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. It was just a short time before that historic day that Clinton and Gertrude (Zawacki) Cooper were blessed with the birth of the baby girl they named Janet on January 30, 1940, in Muskegon, Michigan. She was the middle of the three Cooper children as she was raised in Muskegon alongside her brother, Raymond “Buzzy,” and her sister, Mary. Janet’s father worked as a pipe fitter at the foundry while her mother worked at a laundry shop. Janet also earned a bit of money by picking blueberries and making potholders to sell.
Even as a young girl Jan was a bustle of activity. She enjoyed music and was active at her church, Evanston Baptist Church including as a member of the choir. It was also as a young girl that Janet developed an interest in others and fostered a nurturing spirit. It seems only fitting that she had always wanted to be a nurse. Jan attended local schools, and in her free time she liked going to the nearby beach on the shores of Lake Michigan. Her high school years found her at Muskegon High School, and she was also a nurse’s aid during this time. After graduating from high school in 1958, Janet attended Bronson School of Nursing and earned her LPN degree.
Not to be forgotten during this time was Jan’s introduction to the young man of her dreams. His name was Lambert “Lam,” and they met at youth group at Bethel Baptist. While they were both singing in the choir there, their eyes connected, and the rest is history as they say. Jan and Lam began dating and soon found themselves deeply in love. Exactly one year after they met the couple became engaged, which was on October 18, 1959, and they were then married at Evanston Avenue Baptist Church on May 21, 1960. The couple then drove down to St. Petersburg, Florida, for their honeymoon.
Upon their return, the newlyweds settled into a home in Kalamazoo, and just a short time later they started their family. Together Jan and Lam welcomed three children including Sheri Lynne, Alan, and Bryan into their hearts and home. Janet worked for a time, but once Alan was born she left the workforce to focus her time and attention at home. Both Jan and Lam were amazing parents who raised their children in a loving and nurturing home. She had a way of making even the ordinary extraordinary, and her family appreciated her skills in the kitchen as she was especially amazing as a baker. Janet was known for her pies, and she always made more than one, too. She more recently got interested in making cupcakes, and she loved the Food Network, especially Paula Deen. When it came to holidays, Jan always went over and above to make them special. She was a memory maker, and her gatherings were always an event as they included not only great food but games and activities as well. It was easy to see that Jan and Lam adored each other, and through their example their family all deeply loved one another as well.
Faith was Jan’s constant companion, and she lived her faith every day. Her greatest desire was for children to know Jesus as she truly had a heart for children’s ministries. Jan was able to do some of her work with this ministry at home, and she was an integral part of also organizing and executing camp ministries and vacation Bible school. She always put many hours into the curriculum and was an awesome story teller. Jan became skilled at clowning and performing magic tricks all for the church and ministries. She and her husband became known as ”Lam and Jan,” and with ministries they were known as "Uncle Lam and Aunt Jan.” With a combined love for music and ministry, she attended some quartet conventions and Christian magician’s conventions as well. Together Jan and her husband volunteered at Borgess Hospital for over 15 years with a humor cart and patient rep. She was Dr. ICU while he was Dr. Payne. They firmly believed in "healing in laughter" and also that "a merry heart is good medicine.” Jan and Lam spread their joy anywhere they could whether they were passing out toys at the Gospel Mission, the train station, the airport or someplace else - all dressed up as Mr. and Mrs. Claus. She also had a great sense of humor and was known as “the better lady” as she always asked people how they were feeling, and after waiting for a reply, Jan would then ask, “Would you like to feel better?” She would then hand them a card with the word “better” printed on it. People treasured these cards as they still had them years later. Throughout her life, Jan loved Proverbs 3:5-6, and her favorite passage was Psalms 23.
Over the years Jan was a woman of many interests. She rarely took time for herself, but she did love things like playing the piano, generally traditional hymns and gospel music. Janet also loved reading as she had an insatiable thirst for learning new things, and she traveled all over. She loved the Cheesecake Factory - so much so that their travel plans usually included visits to this restaurant. Swimming and visiting the lakeshore remained her a lifelong love, and it has been said that Lam bought her new shoes and clothes rather than flowers on their nights out because she always liked to look her best. Jan took some shopping trips and finding a great sale was icing on the cake.
With unending love for everyone she met, Janet Bolhuis was a blessing in every way. She waned everyone she met to feel as though their life matters, and with her amazing sense of empathy she was the best nurse. Aunt Jan will never be forgotten.
Janet “Aunt Jan” Bolhuis, of Galesburg, went home to be with her Lord and Savior on June 1, 2016, at Kairos Dwelling, Kalamazoo. Jan’s family includes her husband, Lam Bolhuis; 3 children: Sheri Lynne (Jim) Aman, Alan Bolhuis and Bryan (Jeanne) Bolhuis; 2 grandchildren: Jada and Zander; sister, Mary Kauffman; and many nieces and nephews. Jan was preceded in death by her parents and brother, Raymond “Buzzy” Cooper. Visit with family and friends on Monday from 6-8 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (375-2900) where services will be held Tuesday 11 a.m. A luncheon will follow in the Life Story Center. Please visit Jan’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Child Evangelism Fellowship of Kalamazoo or Samaritan’s Purse.