Tuesday, May 30, 2023
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
11:00 AM EDT
4575 Remembrance Rd NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
1 (616) 453-7700
Visitation from 10 AM until start of the service.
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.
4575 Remembrance Rd. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Matthew's House Ministry
766 7th St NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
1 (616) 233-3006
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Life Story / Obituary
With a warm, welcoming smile and a persevering spirit, Jacquelyn "Jackie" O'Mealey lived a life rich in family, faith, and adventure. Gentle, sweet, and kind, Jackie was also hardworking and incredibly resourceful. Never one to shy from a challenge, Jackie confidently faced life's hardships with unwavering faith and good care for those she loved. She welcomed each day as a gift and every person as a friend, always choosing to live wholeheartedly. An inspiration to all who were blessed to know her, Jackie will long be remembered and so very missed.
With the rearming of US forces, the strains of the Great Depression began to ease in 1940. Americans' incomes grew, and their increased spending further fueled the economy. In the US, the optimism of leaving the depression behind inspired the making of several classic movies, including "Gone With the Wind" and "The Great Dictator," while the invigorating sounds of Benny Goodman and Count Basie's Jazz filled our homes with hope. Newly invented nylon stockings were all the rage with women, and FDR was elected for an unprecedented third term. Despite the ominous winds of change blowing in from Europe, the foundation of hope and generosity our nation had firmly rooted itself in as a result of the preceding decade's hardships could not be shaken. It was within this overwhelming feeling of fortitude, generosity, and hope that John and Neoma (Mark) Terpstra welcomed their daughter Jackie into their hearts and lives on May 20 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Born in the family home on Fennesy Lake Road, Jackie was a middle child who enjoyed the good company of her five siblings, Royce, Shirley, Sharon, Kathy, and Nancy. A natural tomboy, Jackie loved adventure and was keen to explore just about anything. She spent hours in forts in the woods or helping her dad in the garden. The family moved to Remembrance Rd in 1947 and then to Fruitridge Ave and the farmhouse that belonged to their grandparents. Their aunt, uncle, and cousins lived to the south, and grandparents to the north. Jackie played all the time with her cousins, enjoying acrobatics in the barn, swinging from rafters, kick the can, tunnels in the hay, and swimming in the farm water tank or local creek. The local lakeside pavilion, where locals hosted parties, often included live music that could be heard across the lake. As the songs were mostly country music, the kids were sure there were cowboys riding through the woods and singing. Her dad traded his old Ford pickup for a nice playhouse the girls decorated with rugs and fabric. One time, Royce and some friends put a large snake in it to scare the girls, which worked!
Daily chores were plentiful, and Jackie's responsibilities included cooking, cleaning, and watching her siblings. When she was 12, those responsibilities increased after her mother left the family. A workhorse, Jackie masterfully managed any task she needed to complete to support her family. After the school day concluded, Jackie worked at Foremost Insurance for $1.80 per hour. When she got home, she made the family dinner. Once she learned to drive, she and her family would go to the roller rink in Zeeland or spend Summer Saturdays at the beach. After backing out of the driveway and into a ditch, she earned the nickname "Wrong Track Jack."
Jackie's schooling began at Westside Christian School. After sixth grade, she attended Berlin Public School for seventh grade and Walker Christian School for eighth and ninth grades. In tenth grade, she transferred to Grand Rapids Christian, where she completed her education and proudly graduated with the class of 1958.
On December 9, 1960, Jackie married Pat O'Mealey, who was still in school and working on his teaching degree at the time. In 1962, the couple welcomed their son Dan. When Pat graduated from college, he worked in Luther, Michigan, for a year before securing work on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska. The family lived in a Native Alaskan village and were some of the few white people living among the indigenous peoples. Daughter Kelly was born in Ketchikan in 1966. Daily life was rustic, including cooking on a wood stove and chopping a hole in the ice for water. With no radio or TV, nighttime entertainment consisted of reading. Dan and Kelly remember extraordinary meals and over-the-top Christmases that included waiting for the mail boat to come into port with gifts from relatives in the lower 48.
Eventually, the family purchased a fishing boat and invested in commercial fishing in the summertime. It was hard work, but they enjoyed seeing whales, walruses, and seals. During a three-year leave of absence from teaching, Jackie and Pat had a trapper/hunting camp on Mable Island. When he came home with an animal he killed, Jackie was the butcher, had it all processed in no time. With signature skill and resourcefulness, Jackie learned to can just about everything, as well as make clothes. She was famous for her canned salmon, salmonberry jam, and pilot house bread, and she made seal skin vests and wolf fur-lined gloves.
In 1976, the family moved to Bellfountain, Oregon, where Jackie worked as a cook for Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity at Oregon State University for five years. She loved working at the University and made friendships there that lasted a lifetime. At home, the family had a little farm and raised chickens, pigs, goats, turkeys, and beef cows. After she and Pat divorced in 1983, Jackie returned to her roots in Grand Rapids. For 15 years, she ran the employee cafeteria for HH Cutler in downtown GR. When the company left town, she went to work for Lear Corporation. Jackie was happy to be back in Michigan, closer to her family and the community she loved. She enjoyed taking bus trips, sewing, antiquing, genealogy, watching Tigers games in person or on TV, and Italian and Mexican meals. Active in her church community, she enjoyed participating in Wednesday night meals at Remembrance Church.
Those who knew her best easily recognized Jackie's calm courage and quiet strength. In 1993, Jackie noticed a dog attacking her 4-year-old neighbor, Brittany Boonstra. Without hesitation, Jackie ran out of the house, pulled the dog off the little girl, and quickly ran her to her parents. Brittany needed 100 stitches, but Jackie had no injuries. When Jackie was 80, her kids presented her with special "Alaska Sneakers," which had tickets and reservations for a trip to Alaska inside them. Together, they returned to Alaska and shared wonderful adventures dog sledding, salmon fishing, and taking a helicopter glacier tour.
Though the world feels far less certain in the absence of Jackie's steadfast faith, love, and companionship, may our many treasured memories provide deep comfort. May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying her beautiful legacy forward. In each moment we choose faith, kindness, loving kindness, adventure, and confidence, we celebrate the many ways Jackie blessed our lives. In this way, we keep her spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired each of us.
Jacquelyn "Jackie" Eve O'Mealey age 83, of Grand Rapids, went to be with her Lord and Savior after a brief illness on May 24, 2023. She was preceded in death by her parents, John and Neoma Terpstra; siblings, Royce Terpstra, Shirley Holtrop, Sharon Zahm, and Nancy Wiersma. Jackie is survived by her children, Daniel (Tanya) O'Mealey and Kelly (Steve) Bayliss; grandchildren, Olek, Mary, and Oriana O'Mealey and Sal and Shea Lauria. Also surviving is her sister, Kathy Hoogewind; sister-in-law, Dee Terpstra; and many nieces and nephews. The funeral service will be held at 11 AM on Wednesday, May 31, 2023, at Remembrance Church, 4575 Remembrance Rd NW. The family will receive visitors on Tuesday, May 30th, from 5-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW., and at church for one hour prior to the service. Contributions in her memory may be made to Matthew's House Ministry or Remembrance Church. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to read Jackie's life story, submit a favorite memory or photo, or to sign the guestbook online.