Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

H. Virginia Thomasma

July 4, 1924 - May 6, 2018
Grand Rapids, MI



Sunday, May 13, 2018
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 453-8263
Driving Directions


Monday, May 14, 2018
11:00 AM EDT
Marne United Methodist Church
14861 Washington Street
Marne, MI 49435


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Jinny Thomasma was a blessing in the lives of everyone she met. She was a woman of faith who loved serving within her church community, and she enjoyed using her gifts and talents to bring joy to those around her. She could be opinionated at times, but she was also passionate about the people and things she believed in. Although she will be deeply missed, Jinny leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.

It was great to be an American during the exciting decade that we recall as the Roaring Twenties. It was during this exciting time that Edward and Muriel Carstens were pleased to announce the birth of the baby girl they named Helen Virginia on July 4, 1924, in Nebraska. Affectionately known as Virginia or Jinny to those who knew her well, she was the oldest of three as she was joined in her family by her sister, Catherine, and her brother, Edward. She was always so proud to have her birthday on the Fourth of July as she loved the fireworks for her special day.

During Jinny's school years, the Dust Bowl hit the central states, including Nebraska. She vividly remembered the dust getting into their house in spite of everything they did to seal it, and walking to and from school in those days. Jinny's parents were both teachers, and her mother also taught piano lessons. Her mother observed that whenever she was giving piano lessons, Virginia would bring out her toy piano and "play" along. Once she received lessons of her own, she quickly became the pianist in demand for school functions such as dramatic productions and ceremonies such as graduations - including her own! For years she was the one people would come to if they needed an accompanist.

After graduating from high school in Grand Island, Nebraska, Ginny was eager for all that life had in store. She spent some time working after high school so that she could go to college. During the years of World War II, she joined the other women of Grand Island in preparing lunches for the troops on the trains headed west through their city. Cakes were also prepared for the troops celebrating their birthdays. Virginia then attended Oberlein College in Ohio for a year, which was also where her father had attended. She took the specific classes that she wanted, which she later acknowledged had opened several doors for her music career.

Not to be forgotten during Jinny’s time in college was her introduction to the man of her dreams. His name was Harold Thomasma, and he was in the Navy and also attended Oberlein at the time. It didn’t take the couple long to fall in love, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together they were married on October 13, 1945. The newlyweds initially lived in Chicago near his parents, and they then moved to Indianapolis, Indiana when Harold was to attend Butler University. It was while living there that they welcomed their daughter, Pat, into their hearts and home. When Harold got a job teaching in Grand Rapids, Michigan, they moved there. Although they were deeply saddened with the death of their infant daughter, Marcia Lynn, Jinny and her husband were later filled with great joy to welcome three fine sons, Scott, Eric, and Lanin.

There was nothing Jinny loved more than being home to care for her family. They lived at 1028 Edison, NW, and their home was one filled with love. Jinny’s home was always orderly, and everything had a place. Although she liked things put away, she didn’t nag her kids about it, rather, she just picked up throughout the day to demonstrate what it looks like to have a tidy home. Jinny was a stickler for discipline and wasn’t afraid to discipline the kids at times. She also corrected her children’s grammar when needed. They didn’t travel much, but they did take a few family trips throughout Michigan during the summers. Jinny and Harold did travel more once their boys were older. Virginia was always supportive of her children, which was no easy feat since they all had very diverse interests.

Throughout her life Jinny was one to remain busy. She was very active in her church, first at Valley Avenue Methodist and then later at Faith United Methodist. Over the years, Jinny held several offices; she sang in the choir, and helped out on the piano from time to time. It was during this time that she studied organ and would serve on occasion as the church organist. She was a talented seamstress who made much of her own clothes as well as clothes for her children when they were younger. Jinny loved playing cards and was part of a regular Bridge club for many years. She did needlework, knitting, and quilting as well as other crafting. Many of the items she made were eventually donated. Jinny continued with her musical interests by participating in the St. Cecelia Choir, the Grand Rapids Symphonic Choir, and a Cantata choir, with which she even went on a European tour. Once her children were all in high school or older, she went back to work. Virginia spent about ten years working at the Michigan Employment Security Commission, first as a claims examiner until eventually working her way up as supervisor.

After retiring, Jinny and her husband experienced a whole new chapter. They learned to square dance, but during their retirement years they took it to another level. Virginia and Harold first had their truck camper, which was nicknamed "Yellow Rock" that they took to dances. This later gave way to a motor home they used to travel the country. Jinny and her husband made friends from all over that they could call upon to find when and where a dance would occur. She wasn't really one for crowds, but she did fine when she was on the stage. When she was part of a group, Jinny was very content to just sit and listen to others. Virginia enjoyed seeing her grandchildren when she could.

Later in life, Jinny continued to embrace both the peaks and valleys of her journey. She tenderly cared for Harold as he battled cancer for about a year, and in January of 2008 she was deeply saddened with his death. Rather independent, Virginia was able to remain in her home for several years. She still loved playing the piano in her home and continued to do so until she had a hard time reading the music. Virginia moved to Lincoln Square for a short time before moving to Stonebridge Manor where she received the care she needed for the last couple of years.

All who knew H. Virginia Thomasma would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She loved music and was a talented musician, but there was nothing she enjoyed more than sharing her musical talents with those around her. A woman of faith, Jinny exemplified what it means to be the hands and feet of the Lord she loved through her selfless acts of service throughout her life. Deeply loved by everyone she touched, she will be forever missed.

Helen Virginia (“Jinny”) Thomasma, aged 93, passed away Sunday, May 6, 2018, in Walker, Michigan. She is survived by her children: Patricia and Carl Shaver, Scott and Dr. Linda Thomasma, Eric and Therese Thomasma, and Lanin and Jeanne Thomasma; grandchildren: Eric Jr. and Nicole Thomasma, Ellen and Rich Krasin, Nicholas Thomasma, Dr. Linda Shaver-Gleason and Christopher Gleason, Janneke and Brandon Rodgers, Stefanie Thomasma; nine great-grandchildren; her brother, Edward Carstens Jr. (Elaine Madsen-Carstens); many in-laws, nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Marcia Lynn Thomasma; her sister, Catherine Dukette; her parents; her husband of 62 years, and many in-laws.

Visitation will be on Sunday evening, May 13, 2018 from 5-8 p.m., at the Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Alt and Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive, NW, Grand Rapids. The funeral will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, May 14, 2018 (visitation at 10:00), at United Methodist Church of Marne, Michigan. Interment will be private; she will be placed adjacent to her husband and infant daughter at Rosedale Memorial Park, Tallmadge Township, Michigan. Memorials in memory of Jinny may be made to the St. Cecilia Music Center in Grand Rapids. To read more about Jinny's life, to share a memory, or to sign her online guestbook, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.