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Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, Tena J. Bouwman was a blessing to everyone she met. She was never one to be concerned about the little things, rather, her focus was on loving and serving those around her. Tena loved being with her family, and she always went over and above as she was richly blessed with the gift of hospitality, especially where her family was concerned. Although she could be a bit headstrong, she was as sweet as they come, and she had a zest for life that was truly contagious. Although she will be deeply missed, Tena leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will proudly carry on.
Nearly a century has passed since our nation faced the struggles of unsafe working conditions and a working class that was becoming increasingly more discontent. It was a relief that WWI ended in 1918, and it was our victory during that war that left us recognized as a world leader for the first time. It was during the year that followed that Harm and Margaret (Kliffman) Bouwman were eagerly anticipating the birth of their new baby as July unfolded in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The big day finally arrived when the baby girl they named Tena J. drew her first breath on July 11, 1919, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She was the youngest of three children in the Bouwman family as she was raised on a dairy farm alongside her older brothers, Al and Don. Their home and business, Bouwman Dairy, was located near Oakleigh and Richmond, and Tena had her fair share of chores and loved working in the garden. The Bouwman family was firmly rooted in their Dutch heritage, and they were also members of West Leonard Christian Reformed Church. In fact, Tena was a member there throughout her entire life. As a student she attended Oakleigh Elementary. She spent many years living with her parents, and after her mother’s death she remained there to care for her father until his death. Tena then moved to a house on Leonard Street for several years.
Over the years Tena worked some odd jobs. As time went by she did some babysitting, worked in a dress shop, worked for Knape and Vogt, and also worked for a radio ministry. At times it was hard to decipher whether she was working or volunteering her time as she was so passionate about everything she did. Although she didn’t complete her education as a young woman, Tena did earn her GED when she was nearly 80! She always lived a simple life, and since she never learned to drive she just took the bus wherever she went throughout her entire life. When not working or volunteering, Tena enjoyed crafts, crocheting, and knitting around home, but she was also quite social with neighbors and friends from church.
There was never anything of greater significance to Tena than her family. She treasured the time she had to spend with her extended family, especially a few of her nieces and nephews. Tena was an amazing hostess who loved visitors, and she was a part of her brother Al’s family events much of the time. Her nieces and nephews loved it when she played the piano and they could sing along.
During her later years Tena moved to Coventry Woods where she remained for several years. After suffering with some health problems, she moved into the Christian Rest Home where she lived for over 16 years. Tena absolutely loved it there and was an active part of the community there. She also made several friends there, and between everything she did she was rarely in her room. At times even visits from her nieces and nephews or brother and sister-in-law were not ideal because she had her schedule filled with activities. Although she struggled with some health issues over the last few years of her life Tena’s strength, courage, and determination was clearly visible. She even recovered when doctors didn’t feel that recovery was much of a possibility.
In everything she did, Tena’s love for others was first and foremost. She was social and outgoing with a love for life that was easy to see. Tena was a lifelong resident of the community she called home, and there were countless people who were touched through her servant’s heart. Deeply loved, she will never be forgotten.
Tena J. Bouwman, age 97 of Grand Rapids, passed away on August 20, 2016. She was preceded in death by her brothers Al and Don Bouwman. Tena is survived by her sister-in-law Kathryn Bouwman and several nieces and nephews. Her family wishes to thank her special friends, Larry and Lois Doyle for their loving attention. Also thank you to the staff at the Christian Rest Home and Faith Hospice for their loving care. A memorial service for Tena will be held on Wednesday, August 24 at 2:00 PM at the Christian Rest Home in their activity room where friends may visit together for a time immediately following the service. For those who wish, memorial contributions to either the Christian Rest Home Foundation or Faith Hospice are appreciated. To read more about Tena's life, to share a memory or photo or to sign her guestbook, visit lifestorynet.com