Monday, June 6, 2016
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EDT
Westend Christian Reformed Church
1015 Westend NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Monday, June 6, 2016
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM EDT
Westend Christian Reformed Church
1015 Westend NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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.
West Side Christian School
955 Westend NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
PO Box 14132
Grand Rapids, MI 49414
333 East Beltline
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
810 Van Raalte SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49509
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
The life of June Holtvluwer was enriched in countless ways. With her family by her side, June added much to the lives around her. Her unending faith was a source of strength and comfort for which June relied, and she sought her Lord with thanksgiving, and turned to Him in every hour of need. A hardworking woman, June was never afraid of getting her hands dirty. For years she worked tirelessly with the love of her life by her side, and she would not have wanted it any other way. Now resting in the arms of her precious Lord, June leaves a lasting legacy that began and ends with love.
June’s story began during a time of economic prosperity as industry and the need for consumer goods rose. While Gershwin and Berlin dominated the music scene, men in their pan hats strolled along with swank and swagger and were quite a match for the belles of the infamous Roaring Twenties, the flapper. Art deco was all the rage, and New York City was deemed the largest city in the world. Despite the ever changing world around them, Nicholas and Bertha (Welmers) Boersma were simply content raising their family in the riverfront city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and on June 17, 1925, their family came to include the birth of their precious little girl, June.
June was raised alongside her brother, Everett with whom she always remained close. Her family made their home on Nottingham Street near Godwin School, but their lives were forever changed when at the age of three, June sadly experienced the death of her mother due to pneumonia. As the onset of the Great Depression created financial hardship for all, June was just a young girl of six when her father was tragically killed. June’s father’s youngest brother, Bernard and his wife, Sadie stepped in and took June and her brother to raise as their own. They lovingly adopted them, and they were grateful to become June and Everett’s mother and father.
June not only acquired new parents, but additional siblings, including Marvin, William, Tressa, and Donald. With six children in tow, June’s mother, Sadie was a busy homemaker while her father, Bern operated a local grocery store and later, a vending machine business. At their family store, June was always dipping into the pickle barrel and she loved eating bologna sandwiches. Her parents offered June and her brother a good life that perhaps they may not ever have had. June counted her most significant childhood moment seeing her new adoptive home for the first time, and experiencing her first Christmas there. Her family lived near Richmond Park on the city’s west side where June relished fond memories of swimming in the pool and skating on the pond.
During her youth, June learned to play the piano, taking lessons from Hannah Van Houten and later, John Hofstra. The Boersma’s were faithful members of Alpine Avenue Christian Reformed Church where June grew in her faith. Her parents sacrificed to give their children a good Christian education, and having attended West Side Christian School, June went on to attend Grand Rapids Christian High School. June enjoyed her school days. She also enjoyed the game of tennis and played a great deal while in high school. A personable, outgoing girl, June formed many lasting friendships in high school which came to include the handsome young man who won her heart, Ken Holtvluwer.
Ken was a senior and worked at his family’s clothing store on Leonard Street NW while June, a freshman, worked at Meyers 5&10 nearby. On Saturday nights, Ken and a fellow employee always walked over to Meyers for a little candy, and June waited on them. Quite smitten with the pretty little brunette and her beautiful smile, Ken eventually asked June to the New Year’s Day basketball game and for a time of card playing between friends. And it came to be the beginning of their deep, abiding love.
After graduating from high school, June went on to further her education in the nursing program at Calvin College for a year. As the perils of war took place overseas during World War II, Ken soon began serving in the U.S. Army. After undergoing an emergency appendectomy, Ken received a ten-day sick leave and as quickly as he could, he was on a train headed back to Grand Rapids to surprise and see his sweetheart. June, who was home studying dressed in curlers and an old robe, was more than shocked to see Ken at her door and they shared many laughs about it for years to come.
While June was attending Blodgett School of Nursing, she and Ken became engaged. They did so before he was given his marching orders to report to Camp Stoneman in California, and eventually his orders for overseas duty. Much was being done on the home front for the war effort, and even though June kept busy with her studies, she worried so about Ken. He served in the South Pacific Theatre in the Philippines, and upon his honorable discharge at the war’s thankful end, they began making serious wedding plans. By now, June was near in earning her degree and graduated in 1946 as a registered nurse.
For a time, June worked in public health in the Detroit area. The soon-to-be married couple bought a house behind Ken’s family store for a mere $700 that had to be moved for additional store parking. Needing land to place their home on, they purchased a rubbish filled lot on Arianna NW just west of Alpine Avenue for another $750. What a hassle it was obtaining all the moving permits and the permission from neighbors, but they had a place to call home once they married.
On October 3, 1946, June and Ken shared vows of marriage before a congregation of family and friends at Alpine Avenue Christian Reformed Church. Married by June’s Uncle Herm Moes, with 250 in attendance, they were wished well as they embarked on a memorable honeymoon to the Meramec Caverns in Missouri. They drove their old Ford with only two working, forward gears, and through June’s tenacity, she learned to drive on their honeymoon
Two months after their wedding they were finally able to move into their new house. On September 18, 1947, their first child, Lynne was born, and placing her career on hold, June became a loving, full-time mother. Ken continued working at the clothing store and did what he could to supplement their income with part-time jobs such as vacuum cleaner sales, vitamin supplements, car waxing, and along with one of his friends, manufacturing bleach in an old bathtub in their basement.
When their son, Ken was born on February 4, 1949, it was clear they needed more room. Ken found a house on Widdicomb with the three bedrooms they needed, but the house required loads of work. As the kids were in playpens, June and Ken worked feverishly on the house. Once moved, June resumed working, taking a position for one-dollar per hour on the polio ward at Butterworth Hospital. On December 15, 1951 they welcomed the birth of their daughter, Jan, and their son, Bernard “Buzz”, lovingly named after her father who passed away prior to his birth that very year, completed their family on August 8, 1957. Their home was near June’s parents which made for convenient visiting arrangements everyone loved.
Restless to try something new, Ken had the opportunity to get into the lumber business, something he knew nothing about. He felt he could learn, and in 1952 he and his partner, John Koppenol began Standale Lumber. It was a fierce struggle financially, but they made it through the first winter. When John began talking of selling the business, Ken resolved to buy John out and in 1954 he became sole owner. The business increased its number of contractor customers which meant very long hours for Ken. He spent time unloading box cars of lumber sometimes into the early morning hours. During this time, June did some nursing at Blodgett Hospital and it helped tremendously with Christian school tuition for their kids and supporting their church.
In 1954, June and Ken built their first house on Kinney and Marlborough which was closer to the lumber company. A new design called a "tri-level”, they loved the innovative design of the home and to save money, they did most of the finishing work themselves. In the late fifties they purchased a cottage on Big Star Lake and while Ken didn’t take vacations, they spent most summer weekends up at the lake where numerous memories were shared and enjoyed. A very special place, they treasured times spent there. After their children were grown, June and Ken sold the cottage and bought a motor home. They enjoyed traveling together, and June always thought of it as “playing house.”
Their family business continued to grow and they kept adding sheds to store the increasing amounts of lumber, but everything changed on April 3, 1956 when a tornado came through the area and flattened the lumber company, and most of Standale. By His saving grace, June and the kids were kept safe in the basement and Ken had been across town, yet their thriving business, albeit replaceable, was demolished.
Endless hours were spent clearing the property down to the cement slab. They started over, constructing a new building with a government loan. Years later, on Palm Sunday 1965, a second tornado destroyed their long storage building, and later when 22 inches of snow collapsed the storage shed roof, it too was no less a disruption, but it was rebuilt and business carried on. Through tornadoes, floods, fires, and recessions including taking over the Buccaneer Resort on Portage Lake due to an unpaid lumber bill, June and Ken remained grateful and considered themselves blessed. The couple made a great team, and they worked side-by-side in every facet of their business, often times putting in over 12-hour days.
Through the years, June and Ken moved several times to various homes and condos before making the condos at Raybrook their home in 1999. With each of their children actively involved in the business, June and Ken officially “retired" in 2010, although Ken continued to visit on a daily basis with staff and customers. Working each day at Standale Lumber and Furnishings for 20 years left June little time for volunteering. Even so, she did volunteer at Raybrook Manor and Hospice Nursing. After retiring, June had more time to indulge in some of her hobbies including walking, tending to her beautiful garden flowers, and playing golf. An avid reader, June was personally challenged to memorize scripture more after reading Corrie Ten Boom’s book about her life in the concentration camps during WWII. June loved the hymns of her youth and the peace they each brought to her heart. She loved to cook, and some of her favorite foods included anything Italian, but never liver or lamb! She baked often, and her flare for entertaining was remarkable, especially when family came for the holidays.
June enjoyed a multitude of friendships over the years. She savored the love of family, and watching her grandchildren grow and welcoming great-grandbabies into her life brought her the greatest joy. The most important blessing to June was witnessing each of her children make a profession of faith and embracing their faith wholeheartedly. Ever devoted, June was a loving wife and mother who balanced her dedication as a successful businesswoman with ways all her own. When her beloved Ken sadly passed away, June was sustained by her deep rooted faith, the love of family, and the concern of friends. She remained quite active, yet in recent days, June began to grow weary. Although she will be fondly missed, those who knew and loved June best take solace knowing she has received her heavenly reward.
Mrs. June H. Holtvluwer, age 90, on June 1, 2016 was reunited with her beloved husband, Ken and now is in the presence of the Lord. She is survived by her children, Lynne and Dale Harpst, Ken L. (Clutch) and Dawn Holtvluwer, Jan and Jeff Lehman, Bernard (Buzz) and Anita Holtvluwer; grandchildren, Scott and Kathleen Harpst, Joel and Jono Klooster, Honesty Lee, Shayn and Jessica Holtvluwer and Kelsey Smits; great-grandchildren, Mara, Sam, Chloe, Sadie, and Jacob Harpst; Leah Mulder; Sophie, Nathan and Amelia Lee; Jude, Theo and Mae Leona Klooster, and Teddy Smits. Also surviving is her sister-in-law, Elaine Boersma; many nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held Monday, June 6, 2016, 11:00 AM at Westend Christian Reformed Church, 1015 Westend NW with interment in Washington Park Memorial Gardens. Friends may meet June’s family at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW on Sunday, June 5, 2016 from 4-8 PM and at the church one hour prior to the service. Memorial contributions to West Side Christian School, 955 Westend NW, Grand Rapids 49504; Mission India, PO Box 14132 Grand Rapids 49414; Kuyper College, 3333 East Beltline Grand Rapids 49525; or to Potters House, 810 Van Raalte SW Grand Rapids 49509. To sign June’s online guestbook and to share a favorite memory or photo of her, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.