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Life Story / Obituary
With a warm smile and a servant’s heart, Wilma Florence Goote-Oele lived a life rich in family, faith, and service to others. Loving, friendly, and kind, Wilma welcomed each day and every person as a gift. Her passion and dedication were evident in all her deeds and actions. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, Wilma embodied the principles of her faith and in so doing taught others how to do so as well. Cherished by many, Wilma’s legacy of faith and love will live on in the hearts of those she loved.
1925 proved especially prosperous with the advent of many remarkable debuts including the first motel, the dedication of Mount Rushmore, the opening of the first Sears Robuck store, the first issue of the New Yorker and broadcast from the Grand Ole Opry, the election of our nation’s first female governor, the founding of Chrysler Corporation, the publishing of The Great Gatsby, and the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial. This vibrant time grew even more brilliant on December 4th as Henry and Susie (Dykstra) Hunefeld welcomed their daughter Wilma into their hearts and home in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Growing up on Maude Ave. NE, during the 20s and 30s, Wilma loved to play with her neighborhood girlfriends and sharing time in the good company of her older siblings; William, Anne, Clarence, and her younger sister, Gladys. While her father provided for the family through his work as a cement and brick worker, her mother was a homemaker. The Hunefeld family was firmly rooted in their Christian values and attended the Coldbrook Christian Reformed Church, where Wilma was baptized on December 27, 1925. Wilma's education began at the local elementary school. She then attended Christian High School where she graduated with the class of 1943.
After graduating, Wilma began dating one William Goote, whom she’d first met in high school. It didn’t take time for the young couple to fall in love and set their eyes on a future shared with one another. On March 28, 1947, Wilma and Bill exchanged their marriage vows at Coldbrook Christian Reformed Church surrounded by family and friends.
The newlyweds made their home on Jeanette St. NW and Bill, who worked as a butcher, opened a grocery and meat shop on Leonard St. NW. With a deep desire to share their love with children of their own, Wilma and Bill were blessed with the opportunity to adopt two infant children; they welcomed their son Ronald in 1950 and four years later their daughter, Suellen. Wilma’s family was her joy; she poured herself into creating a loving home and relished in caring for them.
With the desire to root her family in the same core values she was raised with, The Goote family were members of Alpine Ave. Christian Reformed Church. Wilma and Bill also enrolled their children in West Side Christian School for their elementary education and later they attended Grand Rapids Christian High School. Wilma was a very active mother, and she loved participating in the kids' school activities. Without hesitation, Wilma encouraged her children in all their endeavors. While the kids were growing up, the family spent many summers camping at the Conference Grounds on Lake Michigan. They also took memorable family vacations; they traveled to Nevada and California and explored the Rocky Mountains.
Wilma was a wonderful cook; her chicken, beef, pork roast, and Angel pie were unrivaled! Ask anyone who had the gift of eating a meal Wilma prepared, and they will attest to the fact that everything she made was infused with love. For a time, Bill worked as a food broker and later as a butcher for Walkes meats in Breton Village. An awesome team, Bill and Wilma were asked to manage Leonard St. Market on Leonard St. NW. Later, Wilma opened her own restaurant “Wilma’s Deli” in the RC Allen building downtown, near the 6th St. bridge. After running the restaurant for 10 years, she chose to sell it.
When the kids were older, Wilma and Bill joined the new Westview Christian Reformed Church on Leonard St. NW. As in the past, Wilma quickly volunteered her time and talents to the church. One fateful day, the church hosted a group from Mississippi, who gave a presentation about the need for clothing and household goods in their state. Their presentation inspired Wilma’s intrigue, and soon she and Bill were visiting Rolling Fork, Mississippi and helping the community open a shop that collected the very goods that were so needed. Wilma’s passion was fueled by the trip, and upon returning to Grand Rapids, she made it her mission to continue collecting needed items from her community. With great care, Wilma organized year long collections and successful transportation to the residents of Rolling Fork. Without a doubt, Wilma’s efforts resulted in many many people being gifted with much comfort and support.
For many years, Wilma and Bill enjoyed getting away to their trailer at Lincoln Pines Resort on Lincoln Lake. They also spent a couple weeks in Florida during the winter. In her leisure time, Wilma loved quilting and made several beautiful quilts. She also loved sharing time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren who were her heart’s delight. She often listened to Christian music and enjoyed watching Jeopardy, The Price is Right, and Wheel of Fortune on TV. Bill’s leisure time included membership with the local stock club where he became friends with Joe Oele. One fateful day while the men were together at the club, Bill told Joe, “If anything ever happens to me, I want you to take care of Wilma.”
The early 90s proved a time of tremendous loss for Wilma. In 1996 Bill developed Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that took his life just a year later. In 2000, Wilma's son died unexpectedly at age 50. While the losses were immeasurable, Life also blessed Wilma with the gift of becoming reacquainted with Joseph Oele, who was then a retired funeral director. They began dating, fell in love, and married a year later. With their exchange of vows, Joe fulfilled on Bill’s request, and Wilma inherited a wonderful family including Joe’s six children and many new grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A short time after marrying, Wilma and Joe heard about the new Covenant Village of the Great Lakes opening up and decided to purchase a home in the community. Unfortunately, Joe’s health soon diminished and he passed away before they could make the move.
In the face of tremendous heartache, Wilma leaned into her faith and family where she found much comfort and hope. She and Joe had become members of Westview Christian Reformed Church and the fellowship, just like her family, enveloped her in love. With signature resolve and generosity, she poured herself into serving others and remained active in the church for the rest of her life. Naturally social, Wilma easily made friends where ever she went, and she also found comfort in making new friends at Covenant Village. Spending time with her children and grandchildren was always a source of joy as was spending time with her brothers and sisters who she saw often and who always proved good company.
Two years ago Wilma was diagnosed with colon cancer, and while her health had been challenged, she’d continued to feel fairly well until the last few months. Last week her health quickly diminished, and she was enrolled in hospice care. On Tuesday, December 18 at 1:50 pm Wilma died in the comforts of her home.
In the face of the loss of Wilma’s steadfast presence, may it afford deep comfort to know that with each angel pie we indulge, moments we wrap up in one of her quilts, and hand we lend to another, we are living the best of Wilma’s legacy in our own lives. In this way, her beautiful spirit will continue to warm our hearts and inspire others as she so inspired us.
Wilma F. Goote-Oele (Hunefeld), aged 93 of Grand Rapids, passed away at her home on Tuesday afternoon, December 18, 2018. She was preceded in death by her 1st husband, William Goote, her 2nd husband, Joseph Oele, and her son, Ronald Goote. She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Suellen and Doug Korf; grandchildren, Ronald Goote, Jonathan (Ashley) Goote, Bradford (Autumn) Bont, Eric (Lisa) Bont, Courtney (Allen) Serkin, Shelley (Shane) Korf and Amy Korf; 13 great grandchildren; sisters, Anne Hankamp and Gladys Holwerda; stepchildren, Jerry and Trudy Oele, Ron (Marlene deceased) Oele, Sandi and Lee Marshall, Tim and Mary Oele, Barb (Andy deceased) Van Ausdall, Luanne and John Hoekzema; several step grandchildren and step great-grandchildren; many nieces, nephews and friends. Wilma was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and a friend to all who knew her. She will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered. A service to celebrate Wilma’s life will be held on Friday, December 21 at 10:00 am at Heritage Lifestory Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Burial in Rosedale Cemetery. Relatives and friends may meet her family at the funeral home on Thursday from 6:00 – 8:00 pm and again on Friday from 9:00 am until the service begins at 10:00 am. Contributions in her memory may be made to Covenant Village Benevolent Fund. To read more about Wilm’a life, to sign her guest book and to leave your own memory of her, visit her web page at www.lifestorynet.com