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401 Hall St. SW, Suite 263
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
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Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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Life Story / Obituary
She sought the warmth of the sunshine, basked in the beauty of the outdoors, and cherished time spent with her loved ones. She lived a full life in her 93 years. We will never forget Elinore Louise Bockheim. She was a caring wife, a loving mother, and a wonderful friend.
Elinore began her life in 1926 - a decade that was still very much in full swing with the notable title, "The Roaring Twenties." Life was good, and there was plenty of work for the country. Henry Ford announced the 40-hour workweek for The Ford Motor Company's factory workers. And with so many cars in production, it was imperative that the year also completed the famous Route 66 - taking travelers from Chicago, Illinois out west to Los Angeles, California by automobile! The weather was also quite active during this particular year in history. President Calvin Coolidge faced helping his country rebuild after storms of disastrous proportions. As if the Great Miami Hurricane with its Category 4 destruction was not enough, the country experienced 27 tornadoes in one season. The creation of Winnie the Pooh in this year helped provide comfort then and still today.
Just days before Halloween, Henry and Louise (Bos) Kuikstra were preparing to receive the greatest gift of love. On October 29, 1926, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Elinore Louise was born into the world. Her big brother Henry "Hank" was excited to have a built-in playmate. A year later, they all welcomed Betty to complete the family of five.
The three kids shared many adventures living on the NW side of Grand Rapids. Richmond Park was close by, and they would enjoy splashing in the pool during the summers. Winter also provided the chance to ice skate. Elinore and Betty shared a special sisterly bond, which was helpful when her father left the family. With the support of one another, they endured that challenging phase of life. After some time, her mother found love again and chose to remarry. Elinore eventually gained sisters Dorothy, Marilyn and Cheryl, and brother, Bob.
Elinore attended Oakleigh Elementary, where her little sister also went to school. Elinore repeated a year when she faced some adversity. Fortunately, that allowed her to join the same class as Betty, which helped tremendously, for she fiercely defended her older sister. The bond grew stronger as they matured into adulthood.
Life's path directed Elinore to begin working at an early age, so she left school to join the workforce. She began working at McCalls Pattern Shop. Following that position, she found jobs working at the Carter factory, Kelvinator, and later General Motors. She was a dedicated and hard worker, as she helped support her family even in her youth.
Though she worked many hours, she allowed herself time for leisure enjoyment as well. On one particular afternoon, she and Betty decided to go to Lamereaux Lake. As the girls were enjoying the lovely day, a young man came up behind Betty and pushed her right into the lake. In short time, Betty announced that Elinore was not able to swim! It was this same young boy who jumped in to save her from drowning. Leon Bockheim saved her life, bringing her to shore. This romantic and true story led to exactly where you may think.
In time, the happy couple began planning a wedding. The bride and groom exchanged vows on February 15, 1947, at Alphonsus Church. The newlyweds lived in a few apartments before planting solid roots in a house located at 3420 Walker NW. In this home, they welcomed five children into the world; Terry, Nancy, Ronald, Renee, and Lori kept their parents happily busy.
Though Elinore continued to work a little bit to help support the family, their home was traditional, as she maintained the chores and helped keep the family happy and functioning. She was a firm believer in assigning duties to her children but was pretty laid back for the most part.
The young family shared some great moments. For a while, they thought camping would be a great way to enjoy the outdoors together, as Elinore loved to be outside. However, one night, a few critters decided to take a stroll through the tent. After that, Elinore refused to camp unless they made reservations at a motel. She kept her love for nature from then on, taking pride in her flowers, especially her rose bushes.
On Sundays, the whole family would pile into the car to take a drive. The kids complied with this tradition, as it typically meant they would also get to enjoy an ice cream treat. Much of the time, though, the family spent their weekends visiting with friends or family at home. Elinore's cooking was never fancy, but people enjoyed her fried chicken and scalloped potatoes.
Elinore and Leon joined the Nitehawks Motorcycle Club. They would leave the kids with family members and take trips throughout the state. Elinore also participated in bowling leagues, which provided the occasion to be social. Never one to sit back and let others take care of her family, Elinore continued to work at Bissel until she finally retired.
Once their children matured to find adult lives of their own, Elinore and Leon had the chance to do things for just the two of them again. They traveled to Hawaii, Aruba, St. Maarten, and the Florida Keys, among other places. When they were both retired, they dodged the bitterly cold winter of Michigan and stayed in Mission, Texas, until their home state thawed each Spring. Though they did make some friends there, Elinore just liked taking in the local sights or basking in the rays, poolside with a word search puzzle. Merely relaxing with Leon close by was a good day.
How happy Elinore and Leon were when grandchildren blessed their lives! They both eagerly looked forward to and loved each stage from this new perspective of grandparenting. Elinore adored all of her many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great- grandchildren, and they adored her right back.
As their extended family continued to grow, they created a Sunday tradition. They would attend St. Anthony of Padua Church and invite everyone back to their house for donuts and coffee. Afterward, when the weather cooperated, Elinore would take afternoon walks, as she liked to do on most days.
In 1998, Elinore was forced to say goodbye to the love of her life when Leon passed away. This was a challenging time, as she cherished every moment she spent with her dear husband, and he was the more social one of the two. Her friends and family offered her the support she needed to find the goodness in life again.
She held the memories of Leon close to her heart and continued to do many of the same things they enjoyed together. She kept the tradition of watching their son, Terry, at Berlin Raceway and watched the football games on TV. Sometimes she would go to the pubs with her children to catch the action of the NASCAR race.
In 2004, Elinore moved to Manning NW. It was common to see her with a camera in hand to make sure to capture the moment if it presented itself. She was also very quick to show off the photos that caught her eye. In 2015, she moved to St. Ann's home, as she needed additional care.
Through the years, Elinore survived three bouts with cancer. However, her body began showing signs of her age, and Elinore passed away on November 9, 2019. As we seek comfort in our sadness, may we look to the warm sunshine and feel her spirit close to our hearts.
Elinore Bockheim, age 93 of Grand Rapids, passed away November 9, 2019. She was preceded in death by her husband, Leon; her brothers and sisters Henry "Hank" Kuikstra, Betty Phillips, Dorothy Bockheim, Marilyn Quinker, and Bob Klompstra. Elinore is survived by her children Terry & Judy Bockheim, Nancy & Jerry Cook, Ronald & Linda Bockheim, Renee & Donald Sinke, Lori Bockheim; many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren; sister, Cheryl Solomon; sister-in-law Carol Klompstra; and her cherished nieces and nephews. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, November 14 at 11 AM at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 2510 Richmond Street NW. Interment in Rosedale Memorial Park. Friends are invited to visit with Elinore's family on Wednesday from 2-4 & 7-9 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW and on Thursday at the church beginning at 10 AM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to either Emmanuel Hospice or Gilda's Club are appreciated. To read more about Elinore's life, to share a memory or photo, or to sign her guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com