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Life Story / Obituary
With an enormous heart, deep convictions, and tremendous strength, Lois Gertrude Pritchard lived her life with passionate devotion to the family she so deeply treasured. An amazing mother and awesome grandmother, Lois’ beautiful legacy of conscious care for others, perseverance, and joy in the simple things will be proudly celebrated by those who knew her best. Loved by many, Lois will long be remembered and deeply missed.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, 1931 beheld a power of hope that undulated in the hearts of many. With a natural drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, the nation continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was there a greater sense of hope than in Lamont, Michigan as Henry and Gertrude (Bouwkamp) Harmsen welcomed their daughter Lois into their family on September 3rd.
Growing up in Lamont, during the 30s and 40s, Lois learned the values of family and faith from her hard-working family. While Henry worked as a dairy farmer and at the local Kelvinator’s factory, Gertrude worked as a homemaker caring for Lois and her six siblings; Benjamin, Florence, Jacob, Harriet, Kenneth, and Shirley. The fifth of the Hamsens’ seven children, Lois grew up in the comforts of her siblings’ good company and the stimulation of a very busy home. As with most farm kids, Lois had her fair share of daily chores to complete each day, in addition to helping her mother with various household tasks. Lois attended Lamont Elementary School and graduated with the class of 1949 from Coopersville High School. Her first job outside her family home and farm was working in the office at Forslund Furniture in Grand Rapids.
After dating for a time, Lois married Louis Pritchard. The young couple soon welcomed their son, Randy, into their fold on August 1, 1954. Lois relished in motherhood and creating a home that reflected the love and traditions she grew up with. Scratch cooking, Christian music, holidays, and exploring her faith were the cornerstones of the home she so mindfully created for her family. For many summers, the family enjoyed camping throughout Michigan, including in Frankfort and Alberta where Louis’ relatives lived.
In 1968 Lois and Louis divorced, and Lois concentrated on continuing to provide for herself and her son on her own. She worked for many years as a secretary at Great Lakes Express, a trucking company, and despite life’s challenges, Lois possessed an unshakeable faith. Firmly rooted in her favorite quote: “We Walk by Faith and not by Sight,” she regularly read the Bible, listened to Christian music and sermons from the comfort of her home, read books about Christianity, and attended church. Over the years she enjoyed exploring her faith with several fellowships. She attended Otsego Baptist church when she lived in Otsego, Leonard St. Baptist Church when she moved to Grand Rapids, and later she found her faith family at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids.
A woman of many interests and talents, Lois loved to make things. She was an expert crafter who was known for her sock monkeys, rag rugs, and a Christmas tree she created out of netting. She was a wonderful cook who made delicious meals in addition to baking cupcakes, cookies, cakes, and pies that were unrivaled. Her Christmas popcorn balls were coveted by many. Lois also had a piano and often played Christian hymns on it. Square dancing at the American Legion on Saturday evenings was a delight Lois often enjoyed, as well as perusing the latest Avon catalog where she always found something to order. Her passion for the color yellow cannot be denied, and her preference for country music often resulted in her favorite Tennessee Earnie Ford, Elvis Presley Hymns, and Chubby Checker songs playing on her radio.
While Lois thoroughly enjoyed being a mother, becoming a grandmother was her heart’s delight. Katrina, Kelly, Brian, and Randy were her greatest joy; nothing pleased Lois more than spending time with her family. Whether celebrating a holiday with her customary baked goods, hearing about their latest adventures or sharing the most recent book she read Lois listened with her heart and was always a safe place for her loved ones to simply be. In her heart, they always knew they were unconditionally loved and that they were enough just as they are.
With signature strength and determination, Lois met each day with faith and fortitude. Despite suffering from COPD which limited her mobility, Lois always found the gold in every moment. Upon moving to Weston Apartments and later Ransom Tower Apartments, Lois quickly made friends and welcomed visits with her family. As her health slowly declined, she moved to Spectrum Health-Kent Community Campus where she made her home for the last ten years. Sadly, Lois’ health continued to decline further, and she died Friday, May 25th at 2:09 pm at Spectrum Health – Butterworth Hospital.
Those who knew her would unhesitatingly agree that Lois’ life centered on her family. Without a doubt, her devotion and care were both unfailing and inspiring. Though the world is surely less certain in the absence of Lois’ steadfast presence, her legacy of love and faith will continue to brilliantly shine in the hearts and lives of those she leaves behind.
Lois Gertrude Pritchard, aged 86 of Grand Rapids, went to be with her Lord, on Friday afternoon, May 25, 2018, at 2:09 pm. Born September 3, 1931, in Lamont, MI, she was the daughter of the late, Henry and Gertrude Harmsen (Bouwkamp). She was also preceded in death by her siblings, Benjamin (Geraldine) Harmsen, Florence (Donald) Oudbier, Jacob (Harmsen), Harriet (Wayne) Lape, Kenneth Harmsen, and Shirley (Roger) Muilenburg. She is survived by her son, Randy (Gail) Pritchard; her four grandchildren, Katrina (Jonathan) Larson, Kelly Qjczenasz, Brian Newcomb, Randy Pritchard Jr; 11 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild; her sisters-in-law, Nancy Harmsen and Lois Harmsen; many nieces, nephews, and friends. A service to celebrate Lois’s life will be held on Wednesday, May 30, at 11:00 am at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Burial in Maplewood Cemetery, Lamont, MI. Contrubutions in her memory may be made to the American Lung Assn. Relatives and friends may meet her family at the funeral home on Tuesday evening from 6:00 – 8:00 pm and again on Wednesday from 10:00 am until the service begins at 11:00 am. To read more about Lois’s life, to sign her guest book and to leave your own memory of her, visit her web page at www.lifestorynet.com