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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Jean Talsma would agree that she was one of the sweetest people around. She was warm and inviting with a gracious spirit that drew others near with ease. It was easy to see that her family was first and foremost in her life, and there was nothing that made her more proud than witnessing her family tree blossom to include the branches of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren she adored. Through her work as a teacher, Jean made a significant impact in the lives of numerous children over the years. Life will never be the same without her here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will forever treasure.
During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of the nation were focused overseas as WWII raged on. Countless young servicemen and women were serving in the fight for freedom, and those who remained stateside became all too familiar with rationing on common goods such as coffee, sugar, paper, and rubber. Amidst this eventful time a young couple from Fremont, Michigan, was eagerly anticipating the birth of their new baby. The big day finally arrived on September 26th when the baby girl they named Jean drew her first breath. The youngest of eight children born to Carl and Helena (Kerstetter) Miller, she was born in Fremont, Michigan, but later moved to Wayland and finally to Martin. Jean’s father owned a gravel pit while her mother worked in the office and also raised Jean and her siblings, Martha, Henry, Louise, Marvin, Mary, Marge, and Tom. Jean attended local schools including Martin High School where she was a cheerleader and also in the band. She went on to graduate from Martin High School in 1961.
New and exciting changes were in store for Jean when she met the young man who would forever hold the key to her heart. His name was Dale Talsma, and they met while on a double date with friends, Ron and Sharon DeMann. That date led to more dates and a romance that blossomed over three years. With a desire to establish a life together, Jean and Dale were married on October 20, 1961. She spent some time working at Kessler in Wayland, and she later sold Avon products. However, Jean’s primary focus was on raising their three children, Doug, Brian, and Jody. They raised their children in Martin, and cats were always a part of their home. Jean was a fantastic cook whose family loved her big pork roast dinner every Sunday as well as her pies and pumpkin bread. Jean always went over and above on holidays, and she was always the one to host. Later on, she was thrilled when her family grew to include grandchildren, and she was an active part of their lives. Jean was passionate about her family and so proud of her children as she was always sharing all about them with others.
In 1972, Jean went to Western Michigan University and obtained her teaching degree. She even went on to get her master’s degree and spent 25 years teaching, primarily at Allegan Schools. Jean loved working in education, and she obviously made quite an impact on her first graders as several came back to invite her to their graduation ceremony. Jean was so much more than a teacher, too, as she was there to meet various needs in her students whether it was a physical, emotional, or educational need.
Throughout her life Jean was a bustle of activity. They didn’t travel much since she really loved being home and wanted to be near her family, but since she supported Dale in his love for NASCAR she was willing to spend a lot of time at the races. Jean also loved reading, gardening, and was a talented quilter who made quilts for everyone in the family. When it came to music, she was a fan of Bob Seger.
With unending love and devotion to others, Jean Talsma was a blessing to everyone she met. She loved continually and without condition, and she was selfless when it came to others as well. Jean was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother who loved nothing more than being surrounded by the love of her family. Her memory will be forever cherished.
Jean Talsma, of Martin, passed away on March 6, 2016, at the Wings Home in Allegan. Jean’s family includes her husband of 54 years, Dale; children: Doug (Kelly) Talsma, Brian (Ginger) Talsma, Jody (Matt) Barkley; siblings: Henry Miller, Mary Carlson, Marge (Don) Solomon, Tom (Sandy) Miller; 5 grandchildren: Allison, Amy, Christopher, Cole, Benjamin; 4 great-grandchildren as well as several nieces and nephews. Jean was preceded in death by her parents; 3 siblings: Martha, Louise, Marvin; and her grandson, Rick. Visit with her family and friends and view her life story film on Wednesday, March 9 from 4:00 – 7:00 at the Life Story Funeral Home, Plainwell; 120 Woodhams St. (685-5881). A private committal service will be held at a later date. Please visit Jean’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a memory or photo and sign her memory book online. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Wings of Hope Hospice.