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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
The nurturing love and concern of a mother never ends, and so it was in the life of Willi Postma. She was devoted to those in her life and the task at hand despite being fortified by the many trials that came her way. Willi was a smart, remarkable woman whose self-made persona found her much success in many professional ventures. With a love all her own, she lived and loved fully at every opportunity. Although deeply missed, Willi’s heart lives on in those she leaves behind.
Willi’s story began on June 13, 1935, at a time greatly defined by the trials of the Great Depression. Americans forged on with lasting hope even as the Dust Bowl and the struggles of the Depression caused personal hardship and financial turmoil from coast to coast. The oldest of eventually four children, Wilhelmina “Willi” was the daughter of Bruno Hillary and Mionia (Hopkins) DeBoer who made their home in the riverfront city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Soon joined by her sister, Corlene, her younger brothers, James “Jimmy” and Louis later followed. Times were especially difficult for Willi and her family and at merely eight years old she had become a surrogate mother to her siblings whom she lovingly watched over and cared for.
Having attended the local schools, Willi enjoyed her teenage years, especially getting dressed up and going to the area dances with her cousin, Dort. She also paled around with good friends, Chuck and Barb Lobdell who introduced Willi to a handsome young man by the name of Henry “Hank” Postma. The two began dating and at the age of 16, following a whirlwind romance, Willi and Hank were married.
By the time she was 22, Willi and Hank had welcomed five children into their arms with the births of Kim, Bob, Hank “Sonny”, Tom, and Brenda. She and Hank provided a very loving and safe home for their children, and family meant everything to Willi. She had dinner on the table every night whether she was working or not. And with five growing children, leftovers were unheard of. Although one night, after making pork chops for dinner, she accidentally dropped them from the platter while bringing them to the table. She told the children to not tell their father and that they had better eat them. Indeed, it was the one and only time there was food left on their table!
In 1956, Willi was home with the kids when Hank came home from work. Debating whether to go fishing, the weatherman forecasted bad weather later in the afternoon, so he decided to stay home. Cause for concern was hearing that a tornado was headed through Grand Rapids, and it turned in their direction. After huddling close in the basement for safety, it was then when the tornado came through and picked up their entire house. Leaving only the small corner they were in untouched, their home was the only one in the neighborhood with damage. Willi wrote about their experience in a story entitled, "Under a Blanket of Angels" and was even on a WOOD TV8 special on the 50th anniversary of the strongest tornado to ever hit West Michigan.
Willi was ever devoted to the children. She spent many evenings on the sidelines watching her children play baseball, football, or running track. She would pack a picnic lunch for the whole family to eat during the games. Many nights she stayed up worrying about her sons driving their fast cars through the streets of Sparta. She worked as the Village Treasurer in Sparta, and she opened up a storefront in Sparta offering services for writing resumes and business letters. She did some accounting and bookkeeping, and for a time she even had a bridal boutique where she sold wedding invitations and decorations. After their children were grown and gone, Hank and Willi divorced but remained living next door to each other for many years.
Willi began working full-time as a real estate agent. Top in her sales, she was regarded by her peers as an ethical and detailed realtor to work with. Willi eventually obtained her broker’s license and began her own real estate business, Emerald Creek Realty. She loved to drive through town and point out different houses she had sold, often recalling the people who bought and sold them. Willi was also an avid investor in the stock market, spending countless hours each day watching the stock market and her personal portfolio. Her grandson, Tony, loved numbers as a young child and would call out the numbers on the clock to his grandma "Bobbi". Willi was very proud when Tony became an accountant and they continued to spend hours discussing the stock market and the economy.
Willi enjoyed camping and spent entire summers camping with her family. She loved having family come and visit her. There were several years they camped by each other. Her and her grandson Tony would go golfing on the course next door to their sites. Willi was always doing things that most grandma's would have left to grandpas. There was one time when Tony wanted to go to a monster truck show at Van Andel so Willi took him, she came home and when asked how it was she laughed and said, "Great, but I don't need to experience that again." She said it was the loudest thing she ever heard.
When able she would travel, she loved going anywhere with her daughter's family but especially Myrtle Beach, Florida and Gatlinburg. When her mother was still alive she would accompany them on many of those trips. Willi had an extremely close relationship with her mother. A few years ago, Willi purchased a small trailer in Florida and spent a few winters near her son, Tom and daughter-in-law, Terri. They spent many hours renovating her trailer and many more on the phone discussing the changes. Willi was grateful to Tom and Terri who were lovingly generous ensuring all of her wishes were completed. Willi loved finding little things like knickknacks and such to fix up her trailer and she loved showing it off to all who visited.
Just prior to her 60th birthday, Willi met and married Loran Cilla. Together for nearly ten years, their marriage did not last but she and Loran remained good friends. They spent some winters together in Florida after retirement. They purchased different camping equipment and enjoyed visiting many parts of the country.
When Willi was diagnosed with liver cancer she decided she was going to go on a possible last trip to the Great Smokey Mountains. She went to Tennessee with her sister-in-law Dixie, Brenda, and her granddaughter, Sarah, they went to every country music and comedy show they could pack into that short trip. One afternoon they stopped at an A&W Drive-In for lunch. With her nose up in the air and her chest puffed out proud, Willi went on to order a slaw dog of which none of them had ever heard of! "You guys won't believe what I'm going to order!", and when her infamous slaw dog was set before her, Willi looked disgusted. She exclaimed, "What the H-E-L-L is this?!" It was a chili hot dog with coleslaw on it, not the sauerkraut she knew as a slaw dog. Needless to say, after two bites it went into the trash and for years to come she continued to laugh about that story!
With a genuine love for animals, Willi deeply loved her little dog, Rascal, her faithful companion for many years. After he died, Willi couldn’t bear to get another dog but she frequently made contributions to the Humane Society of West Michigan. When it came to music, Willi loved classic country and she was known to have played her music quite loudly at home and in her car.
Music soothed Willi’s soul, especially over the last 18 years as she battled various forms of cancer including kidney, liver, skin, and the latest, colon cancer. Despite these diseases and the many treatments she underwent, it did not define Willi. She was a survivor through and through and forged on with lasting hope. Always intelligent, Willi possessed just enough moxie in her personality to live in the moment and for all it was worth. She loved her family beyond compare, and she set out each day to make the days of others better. A generous and loving woman, Willi was a testament of perseverance that set a fine example for those around her.
Wilhelmina “Willi” Postma, of Grand Rapids passed away on Thursday, November 17, 2016, surrounded by her loving family. She will be missed by her children, Kim (Rene) Postma of Sparta, Bob (Patti) Postma of Newaygo, Hank “Sonny” Postma of Grand Rapids, Tom (Terri) Postma of Florida, and Brenda Postma of Grandville; 13 grandchildren; many great-grandchildren; her sister, Corlene Southard of Grand Rapids; brothers, James DeBoer of Grand Rapids, Louis (Bonnie) DeBoer of Jenison; former husband, Loran Cilla; many nieces and nephews. Willi was preceded in death by her former husband and the father of her children, Henry Postma.
A funeral service will be held on Tuesday, 11:00 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Friends may visit with her family on Monday from 6-8 PM or Tuesday from 10-11 AM at the chapel. Burial will be in Winchester Cemetery, Byron Township. Memorials may be made to the Humane Society of West Michigan. Please visit Willi's personal web page to share a favorite memory or condolence at www.lifestorynet.com.