Wednesday, April 20, 2022
11:00 AM EDT
Calvary Reformed Church
7829 5th St
Mattawan, MI 49071
A luncheon will follow in the church hall.
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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Grace Ritsema, words such as compassionate, hardworking, and genuine come to mind. However, the thing that was easiest to see about Grace was her unshakable love for her Lord and Savior. In everything she did, she sought Him first, and she exemplified what it means to be the hands and feet of the One she loved most. Deeply devoted to her family, Grace treasured her roles and a wife, mother, and grandmother, and she was happiest when surrounded by their love. Although she will be deeply missed, she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
The 1950s were an exciting time filled with movies with James Dean and Marilyn Monroe on the silver screen and the sounds of Elvis Presley and his rock ’n roll music. By the end of the decade we had become a nation of 50 states with the additions of both Alaska and Hawaii. It was during this exciting time that Charles and Anne (Sportel) King announced the birth of the baby girl they named Grace on April 27,1958, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She was one of four as she was joined in her family by her sisters, Doris, Char, and Janice. Grace was a typical young girl of her generation, and it was while growing up that her loving, compassionate, and tender personality took root.
New and exciting changes were in store for Grace when she met the young man of her dreams. His name was Mark Ritsema, and they met at a mobile scavenger hunt during a church activity when her own date didn’t show up. They then had their first official date on October 10, 1975, which marked the beginning of a love story that would span more than 40 years. Mark envied Grace’s Oldsmobile, and it has been said that he had to woo her over by getting a Camaro. The couple often went water skiing during the summer. Somehow, she always looked forward to this even though Mark made sure she ended up in the weeds. They became engaged at the 50th anniversary dinner for Mark’s grandparents, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Grace and Mark were married on March 10, 1978. With each passing year, their love for each other never failed and only grew stronger. Together they welcomed three children including Andrea, Jeremy, and Zachary into their hearts and home.
There was never anything of greater importance to Grace than her family. As a mother she was both supportive and fair, and she also knew just how to make each of her children feel uniquely loved. Grace prepared a three-course dinner that was ready every night at five o’clock on the dot, even after putting in a long day at work. The dinner table just may have been her favorite place, and it was always a time of deep connection. Grace was a talented cook who was always willing to try new things. She always made holidays special, and she loved preparing all the food and just enjoying being together as a family. An amazing hostess, Grace enjoyed having formal dinners at her house even though they took her days to prepare. She passed so many things onto her children, but none were as important as the importance of religion. Grace demonstrated what it looks like to follow in the footsteps of the Lord and to be truly selfless. She taught her children to preach the Word of Jesus to others and, wherever she could, she would share with her children the experiences she was learning along the way.
When grandchildren arrived, Grace was thrilled and loved spending every moment she could with them. Among her favorite things to do with them were reading stories, shopping, and countless hours of crafts as she was always teaching them new things. It was easy to see Grace’s devotion to Mark and her family, and she was strong even in the midst of her own pain. She was there to support her grandchildren in everything they did, just as she had been with her own children.
Faith was a constant presence in Grace’s life. Tender and selfless, she lived to serve in her church and within her community. Grace was passionate about God’s Word, loved her Bible study, and always made it to church to be in fellowship with Christ. She loved learning new things about what the Bible says, having discussions with Mark, and making sure children across the world get a chance to learn about Jesus through her work with Operation Christmas Child with Christine, Cindy, Zelma, and Michelle.
A compassionate nurse, Grace spent 38 years working as a registered nurse at Borgess Medical Center. She always faced challenges with much prayer, and it was her faith that carried her through her own various medical challenges. Grace lived her life knowing that she would be in the arms of Jesus, and she wanted that same thing for everyone she knew. She was a walking miracle herself, having overcome so many medical challenges, yet through it all she always knew who was in control. Grace was a member of Calvary Reformed Church of Mattawan where she was a middle school youth leader, Women of the Bible leader, and participated in many other activities. She taught others of the importance of communication and to be there to support one another through the way she lived her life. Grace shared the importance of being patient when journeying through this life and into the next with every opportunity that came her way.
There were so many things that Grace enjoyed. In addition to her crafts, she enjoyed sewing and loved using her time and talents to make things for others like quilts, hats, and bead bracelets. Grace loved tending to her many flowerbeds and watching and feeding the birds. She was the navigator on all vacations since it has been said that Mark would get lost in a parking lot! She loved riding ATVs, but since she was always riding behind Mark, she wasn’t able to see any wildlife as he kicked up so much dirt and dust. On the one occasion that Grace was actually in front she saw a mama bear and her two cubs almost immediately. Boating was another favorite pastime, and among her more memorable trips were the ones to Alaska and Florida with Mark.
Independent, calm, and fun-loving, Grace Ritsema was a blessing in the lives of so many around her. She taught others to hug and help as many people as you can as well as to stay calm during times of emergency. Grace put her family first in everything, and she was also a genuine and loyal friend for life. Deeply loved, she will be forever missed.
Grace E. Ritsema, of Mattawan, went home to be with her Lord and Savior on Saturday, December 25, 2021. Cremation has taken place. Grace’s family includes her 3 children: Andrea Rose of Wyoming, Jeremy (Melissa) Ritsema of Paw Paw, and Zachary (Kasey) Ritsema of Portage; 6 grandchildren; sister, Janice (Frank) Gibson of Greenfield, TN; brother-in-law, Paul Vander Klye of Kalamazoo; and several nieces and nephews. Grace is preceded in death by her parents; a brother-in-law, Robert Talsma; sisters: Doris Talsma and Char Vander Klye; and father-in-law, Robin Ritsema. Home going services for Grace will be held at 11 AM Wednesday, April 20, at Calvary Reformed Church, 7829 5TH Street, Mattawan. A luncheon will follow in the church hall. Pastor Greg Van Heukelom to officiate. Memorial donations may be given to: University of Michigan FBO Transplant Center Support Fund, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, or Operation Christmas Child C/O SamaritansPurse.org. Please visit Grace’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign her guestbook. Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900.