Friday, December 1, 2017
11:00 AM EST
First Evangelical Covenant Church
1933 Tremont Blvd NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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.
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Life Story / Obituary
Donna Louise Peterson was a loving and dedicated, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and a friend to all who knew her. She had a warm smile and sparkling blue eyes. If her delicious homemade baked goods, coffee bread or cookies didn’t melt your heart, her sweet hospitality surely would. No one was ever able to turn down her delicious goodies and she saw to it that no guest’s plate was ever empty.
Despite the Thirties being marked by tough economic times, Edward and Violet Van Portfleet joyfully welcomed their daughter, Donna on August 21, 1933 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her father was a furniture maker who also enjoyed sports and worked for many years as an umpire in the semi-pro league at Valley Field. Her mother was a homemaker who was also very active in the ladies aid at her church and in the quilting circle there. Her parents raised her with a strong foundation of faith.
Growing up on Garfield Avenue NW, Donna lived a typical childhood for the times. She sang war songs as she walked to and from Stocking Elementary and enjoyed ice and roller skating close to her home near Valley Field. All of her life she spent most of her time with her best friend, Ruthie who lived across the street. Although Donna’s family attended Schribner Ave. Baptist Church, it was while attending youth group at the Covenant Church with Ruthie that she met Richard Peterson when she was a teen. After graduating with the Class of 1951 from Union High School, she was eager to start her life with Rich and the happy couple joined in marriage on October 24, 1952. Their honeymoon was brief as they were busy relocating to Key West where Rich was stationed with the United States Navy.
When they returned to Grand Rapids, they found their first apartment near Courtney and Tamarack NW. Donna worked as a secretary for General Motors before motherhood would remove her from the working world. They added 3 children to their family, Scott, Mark and Susie. By the year 1959, they had saved enough to purchase their only home on Graham Rd. NW where they lived for more than 50 years. The next several years Donna spent making their house a home and focusing on raising her three busy children. Their home was always a welcome place where friends and family frequently stopped by, always to find fresh baked goods or cookies ready and waiting. When all of the children were in school, Donna headed back to work GRPS transportation. She started out driving a station wagon transporting students to Ken-O-Sha and eventually drove a large bus before retiring nearly thirty years later.
Donna enjoyed hosting dinner parties and formed a group called “club” with many of her girlfriends. They met once a month, taking turns hosting at their homes. They pulled out the fine china, silver and dressed up for an “at home” ladies night where they had a wonderful meal with all the trimmings and chatted the night away. Although these monthly gatherings were generally just for the ladies, they did include their spouses once or twice a year!
Her faith life was one of strong servanthood. She spent most of her spare time in the church kitchen preparing and serving food for every event. She loved being behind the scenes making sure every detail was taken care of and the food was always served hot. Donna and Rich also spent many years in the kitchen at Portage Lake Bible Camp, cooking for Spring and Fall retreats and other weeks as needed. In their 50’s and 60’s, they were both active in the ‘39ers’ group at the Covenant church, making food and planning events. Later in their life, Donna and Rich served for several years in a different way by babysitting at the church so young moms could attend MOPS or Community Bible Study.
Once the kids were grown, Donna and Rich bought a camper and enjoyed going on short adventures, usually with friends or family. She willingly went along, but preferred supper at home and sleeping in her own bed. They traveled to Florida on occasion, made several trips to Texas to spend time with their daughter’s family, and ventured out west to a few times to visit Rich’s brother. She also enjoyed jigsaw puzzles, sewing quilts and was an avid reader. She was a regular at the Westside Library where she was known to leave with an armful of books every week. She even knew which books Rich had already read and was able to choose several more for him each time she went.
Donna and Rich added 8 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren to their family. They enjoyed spending time with all of them, babysitting, and sharing birthdays with angel food cake.
When they reached the time when the house was more work than they could manage, Rich finally convinced Donna to move to the Covenant Village of the Great Lakes. Donna was starting to show more severe symptoms of Dementia and preferred to be at home, while Rich was still active on committees, wood working and overseeing building projects at the church. He knew she would be safe and comfortable in this place with people close by when he wasn’t at home. They enjoyed eating dinner with friends each night and many of the activities and events held there.
Rich passed away May 10, 2016 and Donna moved into the memory care. She will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered.
Donna Louise Peterson (VanPortfleet), aged 84 of Grand Rapids, went to be with her Lord on Saturday evening, November 25, 2017. She was preceded in death by her husband of 65 years, Richard Peterson, and her sister, Alice (Clare) Paulsen. She is survived by her children, Scott (Terry) Peterson, Mark (Kelly) Peterson, Susan (Fred) Former; her eight grandchildren, Samantha (Nathan) Hartman, Jeffrey Peterson, Kyle (Ashley) Peterson, Kevin Peterson, Katelyn Peterson, Tim (Andres) Former, Krista (Nathan) Oppenhuizen, Brian Former; her four great-grandchildren, Kessler and Kiersten Oppenhuizen, Jason and Jenna Hartman; many nieces, nephews and friends. Cremation has taken place. A service to celebrate Donna’s life will be held on Friday, December 1, at 11:00 am at First Evangelical Covenant Church, 1933 Tremont Blvd. NW with Rev. Craig Swanson officiating. Relatives and friends are invited to meet her family at the church on Friday, from 10:00 am until the service begins at 11:00 am. Contributions in her memory may be made to Portage Lake Covenant Bible Camp. Donna loved the color blue. Everyone attending the service is encouraged to please wear the color blue. To sign Donna’s guest book and to leave your own memory of her, visit her web page at www.lifestorynet.com