Friday, December 30, 2016
1:30 PM to 2:30 PM EST
Free Reformed Church
950 Ball Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
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.
Free Reformed Education Fund
950 Ball Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Geertruida Laura VanderGraaf (Kok) was born March 3, 1930, the second child of 14 children to Willem and Henrika Kok in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. One of her jobs in her younger years was as a nurse’s aide in a Psychiatric Facility where many also were struggling with T.B. During the years of World War II, Rotterdam was one of the most bombed cities in Europe. Lack of food, along with friends disappearing and never to be seen again, were just a few of the hardships she saw.
Her brother Wim, introduced her, in her early teen years, to a friend whom he made playing sports on Saturday afternoons, Teunis C VanderGraaf. His friend had just got a new camera and Wim invited his sister along to see the pictures that were taken.
She married the love of her life on Feb. 14, 1952 before they had ever heard of Valentine’s Day. A year later, in 1953, they had their first son, Jacob Marinus. Shortly later, they immigrated to Edmonton Alberta; flying into Montreal and taking a train out west for 3 days and nights. At that time Edmonton was a small remote city and so they decided to take the train again and move to Toronto in 1954 to be nearer to a few of her siblings in Grand Rapids, MI.
Shortly after arriving to Toronto, Willem (Jim) was born. Two years later Louisa Joan was born and two more years Elsa Harriet came along. In 1964, Yvonne Christine arrived and 18 months later the twins, Juanita Laura and John Albert were born. She worked in the Eatons Center in Toronto for a while where her children loved to visit.
When the twins were only around 6 weeks old, the family moved to Grand Rapids to a large, old farm house on Alpine Ave. As the children grew, she worked part time at Mr. Fables along with for a time, working at Dickinson Printing in the Bindery Department.
They moved to Covell Street, still on the west side of Grand Rapids and years later to Jenison as the family started growing with one wedding after another. Then grandchildren came along until today when they have 28 grandchildren along with 16 great grandchildren. The children and grandchildren were often called angels by her and she loved to say God blessed her with many riches (her children). Her love for children has followed a few more generations as her kids, grandkids and even many of the spouses they chose, all have a deep love for children and are involved as teachers, Sunday School teachers, teaching at a mission, youth leaders etc.
Through the years, Geertuida often sang in her church choir and volunteered with the church Mission Society knitting bandages for 3rd World Countries, helping out doing laundry at the Christian Rest Home, nearby, along with many other activities.
She loved singing hymns and reading (or often quoting in dutch) the Psalms. Her favorite song Ere Zij God ( Glory to God ) was sung by her all year long and not just at Christmas time like most; A song she sang to many grandchildren in her arms or when she was babysitting them.
As the children grew and left home, she would wait for Teunis to come home from his job in Battle Creek MI and they would drive to Grand Haven. Holding hands, they would walk along the beach and pier often watching the sun set.
Through these years, she raised her children to fear and love the Lord and tried to share her faith in all she did. Prayer and singing praises were common throughout her day.
Several years ago, starting with her first heart attack in 1978, her health began to slowly fail until a few years ago, she was moved to Providence Home in Zeeland MI. a full care facility. Her husband visited the home daily and sat with her for a good part of each day; only missing a visit when he himself was either in the hospital or quite ill himself. More than once, checking out of the hospital and still visiting her the same day! Otherwise, he never missed a day. Memory loss and recognizing others became harder for her, but until the last few days, she always knew her husband. Asking for a zoenja (kiss in dutch) dozens of times during the day, she always was patiently and tenderly, given one.
They even were caught smooching in the Emergency Room at Zeeland Hospital just a week before Christmas Eve.
In his sovereign love and mercy, the Lord took unto Himself, Geertruida Laura VanderGraaf after blessing her with 86 years on this earth on Christmas morning, Dec 25, 2016.
Wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister, aunt and friend will be missed by all!
In His sovereign love and mercy, the Lord took unto Himself, Geertruida Laura VanderGraaf age 86 of Jenison, on December 25, 2016. She is survived by her husband, Teunis; children Jack & Carol, Jim & Mary, Louise & Bob Schut, Elsa VanderGraaf, Yvonne & Herb Leegstra, Juanita & Jeff DeJong, John & Brenda; 28 grandchildren; 16 great grandchildren. Her funeral service will be held at 1:30 PM on Friday, December 30, at Free Reformed Church, 950 Ball Ave NE. Friends are invited to visit with her family on Thursday from 2-4 and 7-9 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Van't Hof Chapel, 851 Leonard St. NW. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Free Reformed Education Fund, 950 Ball Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 are appreciated. To read more about her life, share a memory or sign her guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com