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Christian Rest Home
1000 Edison N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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Life Story / Obituary
In many ways, Margaret Bovenkamp defined the meaning of devoted wife, dedicated mother, loving grandmother, and a woman devout in her faith. She was a blessing in the lives of many with her generous spirit and giving nature, and her warmhearted ways were an inspiration and gift to those who loved and cared for her. A fine example of her Christian faith, Margaret will be remembered with joy.
Margaret was born at a time when America continued to recover from World War I and was straining to rebuild its economy. However, the nation’s can-do spirit was reflected in Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight across the ocean, Henry Ford’s mass production of the automobile, and the Suffrage Movement that won women the right to vote. Yet for Peter and Gertrude (Ringelberg) Holleman, nothing compared to the blessing of welcoming the birth of their little girl, Margaret on August 22, 1923.
Born in the close-knit community of Marne, Michigan, Margaret was the third of five children in her family where a strong faith was an integral part of their upbringing. Margaret’s father earned his living as a farmer alongside his brother while her mother cared for their family as a homemaker and farmer’s wife. Living life on the farm was never easy, especially during the years of the Great Depression, yet Margaret enjoyed a childhood typical of her generation. She was always very interested in learning and was a good student. She attended Berlin High School, and although their little city was once called Berlin, the community was quite adamant about changing its name to Marne in light of the war. Even so, Margaret went on to graduate as Valedictorian of the Berlin High School Class of 1942.
Shortly after graduating, Margaret and her family moved to nearby Grand Rapids, Michigan where her father could find work in a local factory. It paid better than farming and her family liked the change of pace from farming to city life. They made their home on the west side of the city and as a family, they became faithful members of Alpine Avenue Christian Reformed Church. During World War II, their church implemented a program so members could write to servicemen and women who were also members of the Christian Reformed Church. Margaret became involved in this endeavor, and soon she was writing to a young man by the name of John Bovenkamp who was fighting overseas. Although John was a member of the Christian Reformed Church in Linden, Washington, it was faith that crossed their paths.
Margaret and John wrote to each other for a time, sharing some of their highest hopes and dreams. She offered John much encouragement and prayer during these trying times, and he was enlightened by her devoted faith. When on leave, rather than heading home to Linden, John instead traveled to Grand Rapids to meet the young woman who so inspired him. From that meeting and continued letters, a romance blossomed between them. Upon John’s honorable discharge from the service and the thankful end of World War II, Margaret and John exchanged vows of marriage in Grand Rapids on March 8, 1946. It was only the beginning of many shared years together nurtured by faith and a deep, abiding love.
The newlyweds settled in Linden, Washington where John looked for work to support his new bride. With jobs hard to find, they eventually returned to Grand Rapids where they settled on the west side of the city near Margaret’s family. John found work as a plasterer before landing a job in a local factory. They made their first home together in a rented upstairs apartment. They filled their home with the love of the Lord and a family of their own with the birth of their son, Ronald. Margaret was a small lady, and carrying her big bundle of baby boy up the steps to their apartment often proved to be difficult for her. It was a welcome relief when they moved to a home on Fremont NW and later to their forever home on Arianna NW where wonderful memories were made and shared. Six years after Ronald was born, Margaret gave birth to a daughter Shirley Jean who passed away two days after her birth. Margaret and John then began taking in foster children whom they loved as their own. Margaret enjoyed nothing more than tending to the needs of her family, giving only her best to them. She was a good cook and often canned fruits and vegetables to serve all year long. She kept a clean, tidy home, and one of her first priorities was cleaning which always included clean windows which she washed on a regular basis.
Being an accomplished organist, Margaret filled their home with music. She and John would often sing gospel hymns together at home while she played the organ. Margaret was also talented when it came to knitting, and she even served as an instructor for a while. She liked to sew and when her granddaughter came along, she loved making clothes for her baby dolls. She enjoyed reading, puzzles, and taking long walks where she took in the blessings of her Lord. As an avid gardener, Margaret relished spending time in her gardens tending to her beautiful selection of roses.
Even though John and Margaret preferred the contentment of being at home, they did visit John’s family in Washington occasionally. And a most memorable time included their Mississippi River trip. Having left from the very north of the river, it made for exciting times as they ended their excursion at the Gulf of Mexico.
When John became ill in 1998, Margaret lovingly cared for him at home for as long as she was able. After John was finally admitted to the Christian Rest Home, Margaret faithfully visited him every day twice a day to help with his meals and make sure that he was comfortable. After her beloved John passed away in November of 2000, Margaret continued living in her home for another ten years, keeping busy with home maintenance and personal interests. She was quite adept at doing her own home repairs. In 2010 during one of her many long walks, Margaret fell and fractured her wrist and femur, and from then on, she began needing more care. She eventually moved into assisted living at the Christian Rest Home before being placed into full-time nursing care. After suffering a stroke ten days prior, Margaret’s earthly work was done as she drew her last breath.
A fine example of Godly love and devotion, Margaret will be remembered as a dedicated wife, mother and grandmother. Her selfless spirit and nurturing ways will always be fondly recalled, and for these things and so much more, Margaret will be dearly missed and remembered.
Margaret (nee Holleman) Bovenkamp, aged 92, of Grand Rapids, went to be with her Lord and Savior on Friday, May 6, 2016, at the Christian Rest Home. Margaret was preceded in death by her husband of 53 years, John Bovenkamp, her infant daughter, Shirley Jean; her sisters, Marion (Al) Hoogewind and Dorothy (Peter) VanderJagt; her brother, Peter (Audrey) Holleman. Margaret is survived by her son, Ronald J. (Belinda) Bovenkamp; granddaughter, Kelly (Tim) Sebald; and brother, Garrett (Marcia) Holleman. The funeral service will be held on Wednesday, May 11, 2016, 11:30 AM at the Heritage Life Story Funeral Home-Van't Hof Chapel, 851 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids, MI with Pastor Lew VanderMeer officiating. Interment in Greenwood Cemetery. The family will greet relatives and friends from 6 to 8 PM on Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at the funeral home. The family wishes to thank the caring staff at Christian Rest Home and Faith Hospice for their love and support. Contributions in Margaret’s memory may be made to the Christian Rest Home. To share a favorite memory of Margaret and to sign her online register book, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.