Saturday, January 16, 2016
11:00 AM EST
Fourth Reformed Church
1226 Union Ne
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
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.
New City Neighbors
1226 Union Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
1235 East Fulton Street
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
A gracious, kindhearted, and friendly woman, Verta Burggraaf was a joy to everyone she met. She was resourceful and thrived on order, structure, and routine, and she liked the rules to be followed as well. Verta was completely devoted to her family, and there was nothing she loved more than being surrounded by the love of her family that grew to include the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren she adored. She loved to have fun, but she also knew when it was time to get back on task. A woman of faith, Verta had a spirit of compassion that was unmatched. Dearly loved, she will be forever missed.
It was great to be an American during the 1920s. Jazz music was hot, ballroom dancing was among the latest trends, and it was during the Roaring Twenties that the silent film era came to an end. Amidst this exciting time was a time of celebration in the lives of Frank and May (Lowe) Moens of Grand Rapids, Michigan, as they announced the birth of the baby girl they named Verta Marie. Born at Butterworth Hospital, she was the second of five children in her family as she was raised alongside her sisters, Eleanora and Francis, and her brothers, Harry and Peter. Many of Verta’s childhood years were spent growing up in the family home on James Street, SE.
In many ways, Verta was a young girl of her generation. During the trying years of the Great Depression of the 1930s, their family did whatever they could to make ends meet, working together and building a strong bond in the process. In the summers, the Moens children spent a lot of time on the family farm in Mesick, and when the kids had free time they enjoyed putting on plays for the neighborhood or going out to harvest walnuts. Verta attended Coit Elementary and then went on to Davis Tech where she took secretarial classes. She attended Wealthy Street Baptist Church with her family, and as she got older Verta and her friends liked camping out at Grand Haven.
As a young woman, Verta spent a short time coloring photographs, but she later worked in customer service in the insurance industry. This ended up being the industry in which Verta made her career, working for a few different companies before finally settling into a longtime position with what is now Berends, Hendricks, Stuit Insurance. She always took great pride in her work and loved that it allowed her to work with people as she was an outgoing conversationalist.
It was also as a young woman that Verta met the man who would forever hold the key to her heart. His name was Calvin "Cal" Burggraaf, and he lived in her neighborhood. Since he was called to serve during WWII they were separated for a time, but their love only grew deeper. Upon his return, the sweethearts were married in memorable ceremony in Verta’s family home on October 8, 1949. They soon started their family with birth of Beth, and Bob came a few years later. The Burggraafs lived on Diamond Street for a few years and later moved to Auburn, SE. In the early eighties, they bought a house on the West Side of Grand Rapids. Because Verta also worked outside of the home, everyone was required to contribute to the household chores. Verta did enjoy working in her garden, which was quite large at times. From the time they were married, Verta and Cal were members of 4th Reformed Church, which also made up a big part of their social life. Their family vacations were primarily spent visiting family members, but they were able to travel to various places throughout the country as well.
Throughout her life, Verta was a woman of many interests. She and Cal wintered in Florida for a few years, and they also enjoyed some traveling including spending a few months in Alaska. They also started camping on Bass Lake near Pentwater which became her summer home in later years. Although they started with a tent, she eventually had a trailer and even had a pontoon boat for a few years as well. Verta always wanted to be in the know around the campground, and she was usually armed with a whistle and a clipboard to help make sure that the rules were followed. When grandchildren arrived later on, she couldn’t have been happier, and although she would have loved more time with them than she usually had, Verta did her best to make the time count. Later on she was filled with unspeakable joy when great-grandchildren arrived.
All who knew Verta would agree that she was certainly extraordinary. She was resourceful, even as a kid when she found ways to be able to drive a car and once got a ride on plane. As an adult Verta was able to wheel and deal to glean from gardens, and she was never one to be embarrassed to simply ask for something - especially if she might get a good deal in the end. Verta has been called a servant as she was always thinking of others and could find a common thread with anyone.
To know Verta Burggraaf was to love her as she had a heart that was as big as they come. She was intentional in building relationships and was willing to accept anyone for who they were. Verta lived an active life for as long as she was able, and her compassion for those who were struggling was unmatched. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother with numerous lifelong friends, she was a blessing to everyone she met.
After a brief struggle, Verta Burggraaf changed her residence to a home in glory. She was preceded there by her husband, Calvin; sisters Eleanora Kinney and Francis Quist; and her brother Harry Moens. She leaves behind her children, Beth & Dave Pickard, Bob & Kathy (Bouwer) Burggraaf; along with grandchildren Rob & Sarah Burggraaf, Steve Burggraaf, Todd & Wendy Pickard, and Amy Jackson. But her greatest joy was her great-grandchildren, Olivia, Ethan, Sean, Bryan, Katelyn, and Grace. She is also survived by her brother, Peter (Darlene) Moens and brothers-in-law Orville Swick and Edward Kinney along with many nieces, nephews and extended family. No one met Verta without her finding a connection and coming along side them on their walk in life. Her family will receive visitors on Friday, January 15 from 2-4 and 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave NW. Her funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 16 at 11 AM at Fourth Reformed Church, 1226 Union NE. For those who wish, memorial contributions to either New City Neighbors or the Salvation Army are appreciated. To read more about Verta's life, to share a memory or to sign her guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com