Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Kathleen Dykstra would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She was a faithful woman of God, and it showed in everything she did. Kathleen was a loving wife and supportive helpmeet to her husband, and together they witnessed their family tree blossom to include numerous branches of loved ones she adored. She treasured her roles as a wife and mother, but she just might have argued that nothing was better than becoming a grandmother later in life. Kathleen faced trials at times, but she faced whatever came her way with both grace and courage that were truly an inspiration. Deeply loved, she will never be forgotten.
It was great to be an American during the exciting decade of the Roaring Twenties. There were radios, washing machines, and motion pictures in both color and sound during this exciting time when prosperity was largely felt nationwide. Amidst this eventful time was a time of great joy in the lives of Paul and Nellie (Putt) Versluis as they were pleased to announce the birth of the baby girl they named Kathleen Nella on October 18, 1928, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She was one of nine children in her family as she was raised in the family home alongside her siblings, James, Robert, Louise, Frank, Paul Jr., Jeannie, Kathleen, and twins, Ronald and Donald. She was close to her siblings, and they remained that way for the rest of their lives. To support their family, Kathleen’s father was a farmer on Maynard Street in Walker while her mother was a homemaker who also worked at GM during the days of WWII.
In many ways Kathleen was a young girl of her generation. They lived in a big farmhouse and even took in relatives who were down and out during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The farm kept them all close by, but they were also secure especially during the days of the Great Depression. Kathleen always got hand-me-downs from her sisters, and since money was tight they didn’t take any vacations. One day Kathleen was thrilled when her father bought her a brand new red coat. Her mother didn't think the coat looked good on her because of her strawberry blonde hair, but when she saw how happy it made Kathleen her mother let her keep it. She enjoyed things like ice skating and also did some strawberry picking to earn some extra money. Kathleen attended local schools including Union High School through the 11th grade as she then attended hair dressing school.
New and exciting changes were in store for Kathleen when she met the young man of her dreams. His name was Jack Dykstra, and he couldn’t help but notice her when she was walking down the road after having been swimming in the gravel pit so he offered her a ride in his dad’s milk truck. Jack quit school in the 8th grade to run his father’s dairy farm because his father was no longer able. Kathleen had many suitors during her teen years, but Jack kept fighting them off (sometimes literally), and he was the one who finally one her heart. With a desire to establish a life together they were married on April 4, 1952, ay Immanuel Reformed Church. It was a day to remember in more ways that one as it snowed that spring day.
After a romantic honeymoon at Niagara Falls, the newlyweds returned to Grand Rapids and made their home at the family farmhouse with Jack’s mother at 3677 Three Mile Road. Kathleen worked at a factory and saved $3,000, and Jack bought his first bulldozer to begin his excavating business. Kathleen answered the phone and did bookkeeping for the business, but her primary focus became raising their four children, Margie who was born in 1953, Paul who was born in 1956, Jack who was born in 1958, and James who completed their family in 1959. Kathleen was an amazing cook who made a huge breakfast for her family every Saturday. Her family also loved her pot roast. On Saturdays she also made a special coffee cake for church friends. An excellent seamstress, she sewed clothes for Margie and even made Margie’s prom dress with puffy sleeves. Every Saturday night Kathleen and Jack went for steak dinners or to the Do Drop Inn for fish and onion rings. The kids were thrilled to get their hamburgers and milk shakes. As a family they took memorable trips to Mexico and the Grand Canyon, but their favorite times were summer weekends they took to Hardy Dam in Newago for camping, boating, skiing with family and friends. On the way home, they always stopped for ice cream.
In addition to caring for her family, Kathleen kept busy in other ways as well. She was a member of Walker United Reformed Church where she attended services twice on Sunday, gave generously to the church, and enjoyed coffee after church with friends after the service. Kathleen enjoyed golfing, bowling, boating, and traveling as during their retirement years they took trips to Australia, Alaska, and the Panama Canal. They also had a winter home in Florida and enjoyed taking the kids to Disney World. Kathleen loved singing old hymns in church and was a good singer. She was thrilled to become a grandmother and was active in the lives of her grandchildren. Kathleen taught her grandchildren manners, their alphabet, and to read and write.
With a life that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, Kathleen Dykstra was a blessing to everyone she met. She was generous with her time, talents, and resources, and she was someone who would do whatever she could for others. Although her memory failed her later in life, her love for Jesus remained as vibrant as ever. A dear woman to many, she will never be forgotten.
DYKSTRA, Kathleen N. Age 89, went home to be with her Lord and Savior on Saturday, December 16, 2017. Kathleen was born October 18, 1928 in Grand Rapids. She was preceded in death by her husband, Jack Dykstra; her grandson, Nathan Schunemann; and several brothers and sisters. Kathleen is survived by her children, Margie (Ross) Bartman, Paul (Paulette DeYoung), Jack Jr. (Cheryl), James (Donna); grandchildren, Holly, Zack (Savannah), Heather, Cody (Carly) Bartman and Caley (Josh) DeVos, Jason Dykstra, Alyssa (Tyler) Daniels, Jacki (Alex) Drew, Seth Dykstra; and brother, Don (Jayne) Versluis. The service to remember and celebrate Kathleen's life will be held Thursday December 21 at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW where friends may visit with her family on Wednesday from 6-8 PM. Interment will be in Rosedale Memorial Park. Please visit Kathleen's personal web page to read more of her life story, leave a memory or condolence at www.lifestorynet.com.