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Life Story / Obituary
An energetic, generous, and compassionate woman, Nita Kragt devoted her life to serving others. Fiercely independent even after her husband, Jerry died in 2000, she courageously took on mowing their three acres of yard and taking care of their home in Marne, on Garfield. Nita was always concerned for her growing family. She was often full of advice and lived her life modeling her conservative principles. She wanted nothing less than the very best in life for those close to her. Nita’s wonderful sense of humor and loving encouragement will be deeply missed and fondly cherished in the hearts of her special friends and family.
Nita’s story began back in the 1930s. It is difficult to recall much of anything that wasn’t affected by the Great Depression during those times. There were few jobs and a soaring unemployment rate that left countless American families without homes. Despite these tough times, John and Neva (Justice) Wimmer celebrated with great joy the arrival of their newborn baby girl, Nita Joyce born on May 19, 1930, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The youngest of three children, her birth brought much happiness and promise to their lives.
Growing up near the intersection of Walker and Leonard, Nita lived a typical childhood of the times. Attending Oakleigh Elementary School, she enjoyed playing various sports and made lasting friendships with some of her teammates who kept in touch over the years. As a young child, Nita and her siblings were especially close. They developed deep roots in their faith and time spent at Valley Avenue United Methodist Church. During her teenage years, she volunteered as a candy striper for Butterworth Hospital. Proudly graduating from Union High School, Nita set off for work after completing school.
Nita’s life took a change for the better when she was introduced by friends to Gerald "Jerry" Kragt, who was home on leave while serving in the United States Navy. Almost immediately a relationship blossomed and the happy couple was joined in marriage in 1951 at her childhood church, Valley Avenue United Methodist. They welcomed home their first child, Jerry in Rhode Island where Jerry was stationed at the time before returning home to Grand Rapids. There, both Jeff and Karen joined the family making their family complete. Throughout their marriage, she was the steady anchor as Jerry explored many entrepreneurial opportunities. As a mother, Nita was supportive, yet not afraid to keep her children in line from time to time. As a family, they took few vacations as Nita was most content at home. They were also known to enjoy regular Sunday gatherings with fried chicken and mashed potatoes. When the children were young, Nita enjoyed many years as a homemaker. When they had grown, however, she was eager to find work and that she did! Starting out at the local phone company before doing clerical work at Butterworth Hospital in the Emergency Department, she went on to work at Wick's Lumber, until later helping Jerry with one of his business ventures and finally landing a long time position at the Meijer Corporate building where Nita worked for more than twenty successful years.
Retirement afforded Nita the opportunity to fine tune her many special interests and hobbies. She was known to enjoy antiques and frequent flea markets often dressing the part to get the best deals. She dabbled in crafts including ceramics even owning her own kiln for a time. She had a vast collection of antiques, yet loved her doll collection best. As a couple they enjoyed traveling to Florida to visit her aunt each winter for a week or two where they played cards and made memories together.
She and Jerry were overjoyed in their role as grandparents. She loved to take the kids to the stadium where they always enjoyed seafoam, chocolate covered peanuts, and cheese curls. As they grew, Nita was always a reliable source of wisdom. She could be counted on to be the voice of reason and didn’t hesitate to tell any one of them if they were out of line. Due to her loving guidance, she was respected and no one ever wanted to disappoint her. Her grandchildren gave her reason to keep going long after Jerry had died. She enjoyed a few bus trips and a trip to Branson, Missouri and even took a tour of Hawaii, yet once again, Nita would’ve preferred being right at home.
When the house became too much for her to manage, she moved into Covenant Village where she enjoyed making new friends. It was here, that she discovered her love of art through learning to paint watercolors. From there, Nita moved to Story Point in Rockford for a couple of years before she suffered her first stroke. By the time of her second stroke, Nita spent her remaining months at the Sanctuary at St. Mary's. Nita leaves behind a rich legacy of being independent, honest, and full of integrity. Her intuitive nature of understanding people and having deep moral convictions were an inspiration to those who loved her. Nita will be lovingly remembered for generations to come.
Nita J. Kragt, age 87, formerly of Marne, passed away January 6, 2018. She was preceded in death by her husband, Gerald "Jerry" Kragt; and her siblings, Phyllis Gingrich and Richard Wimmer. Nita is survived by her children Jerry (Mary Anne) Kragt II, Jeff (Kerry) Kragt, Karen (Rick) Zemaitis; grandchildren Jerry (Christina) Kragt III, Joel (Kristyn) Kragt, Jenny (Steve) McCormack, Justin (Alicia) Kragt, John (Stephanie) Zemaitis, Mike (Jenn) Zemaitis; as well as many great grandchildren. Her funeral service will be held on Monday, January 8 at 12 Noon at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW where friends may visit with her family from 11 AM until the time of the service. Memorial contributions to Hospice of Michigan are appreciated. To share a memory about Nita's life, or sign her guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com