Saturday, August 6, 2022
10:00 AM EDT
First Evangelical Covenant Church
1933 Tremont Blvd NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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.
First Evangelical Covenant Church
1933 Tremont Blvd NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation
P.O. Box 907
Saline, MI 48176
Life Story / Obituary
Miriam Elizabeth Anderson - 90 years loved! Miriam . . . woman of God, wife of Jerry, mom to Shelly and Glenn, Lori and John, and Jeff; Grams to Jodi and Kenny, Andrew and Christina, Andrea and Jermain, Kayli, and Kristi; Gigi to Danika, Audra, Mayli, Jackson, Izzy and Lyncoln; beloved sister . . . aunt . . . cousin . . . and treasured friend to many.
Miriam lived a long, eventful life and lived through so much of the history that most of us have only read about. The year 1932! Herbert Hoover was President, and Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. The Great Depression was at its worst, with unemployment reaching 24% and 2500 banks failing. World War II had just begun at a time when Hitler was gaining power in Germany. Gas was 10 cents per gallon, and the average cost of a new home was $6,510. In entertainment, the popular radio program, "Buck Rogers of the 25th Century" made its debut; Johnny Cash and Elizabeth Taylor were also born that year just as Clark Gable, John Wayne, and Betty Davis were already starring in films while; Bing Cosby, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington had hit songs playing on the radio.
In the midst of these events, Miriam Elizabeth (Thompson) Anderson was born on March 13, 1932, in St Paul, Minnesota, the daughter of Lester and Ethel Thompson. They moved to Evanston, Illinois where Lester became pastor of a Baptist church. When Miriam was only six years old, her mother passed away, leaving her father with three young children to raise, including Miriam, her sister, Grace, and her brother, Dan. A short time later, Lester remarried Lila Carlson, a young widow who was the organist at his church. Lila had two children of her own, Anita and Paul, and several years later, Lester and Lila's son, Jim arrived. With six young children, and on a pastor’s salary, the family struggled financially as so many families did during this era. Miriam, Dan and Grace who were each at different ages in their growing up years were sent to live with different family members, including aunts Betty, Hildur and DeeDee. Miriam loved each of these aunts and was grateful for their kindness and generosity. In the sixth grade, Miriam went to Denver to live with her grandmother, Freda Thompson. She remembered that year with fondness, and talked of the kindness of her grandma, as well as the fun of living across the street from her aunt and many cousins! Miriam went to a Lutheran School while living in Denver and once told how she and another Baptist friend respectfully instructed their Lutheran teacher about why baptism by immersion was the “better way.”
Although her younger years posed many hardships and challenges for Miriam's family, their move to Muskegon, Michigan in 1945 was a positive, life-changing one. Her dad was pastor there of Lakeside Baptist Church, a church established by Swedish immigrants in 1881. This church also happened to be the church that Clifford and Sigrid Anderson's family attended, with children Cliff, Jerry and Phyllis, and later, Jackie and Tom. The Thompson and Anderson teens also attended Muskegon High School together, and it wasn't long before Miriam and Jerry started dating and did so all through high school. After graduating, when Jerry started college at the University of Michigan and Miriam's parents moved to Denver, Jerry's parents invited Miriam to live with them. During that year, Miriam and Jerry's younger sister, Phyllis became close friends and have been beloved sisters and friends ever since.
Miriam and Jerry were married in 1953, and they lived in Ann Arbor while Jerry completed college and then attended medical school at the University of Michigan. Miriam worked as a secretary to help support them. Both Miriam and Jerry loved the Wolverines and over the years they attended many football games all while accumulating quite the collection of Michigan attire and mementos!
After medical school, Jerry served as an Army doctor for several years in Colorado and Kentucky. Many lifetime friends were made during this time whom they maintained relationships with throughout their lives.
In 1964, Jerry began his hematology practice in Grand Rapids, and the family settled into their new life and home here. Throughout their years together, Miriam was a very proud doctor's wife and supported Jerry in all he did. She ALWAYS made sure dinner was on the table at 6:30 sharp! She even joined him, working in his office when he was in a wheelchair, just so he could keep working. She stood by him through ALL of the joys and challenges life brought them, and during the last years of his life, was his loving caregiver.
Her children, Shelly, Lori and Jeff, were Miriam’s life! She attended nearly all of their activities and sports. Over the years, Miriam was a Sunday School teacher, PTA mom, Girl Scout leader, and played many other roles in her children's lives. The whole family took up downhill skiing in the 60's, and though she was never very comfortable on skis, she arranged many skiing adventures for the family and usually joined them on the slopes (though she did take the chairlift back down the mountain on more than one occasion!) Miriam truly loved the beautiful mountains of the West, and many family vacations were spent traveling to Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, and later, to Alaska.
Miriam loved entertaining and was the consummate hostess! She enjoyed cooking and making big dinners for family and friends, and often began planning holidays months before she needed to! Even in the last two weeks of her life and at times a little confused, she was reliving many memories. In fact, she told Glenn to “get the carving knife;" because maybe in her mind, we were all gathered for Thanksgiving. She even demonstrated to Shelly how to make gravy with no lumps!
Her church, First Evangelical Covenant Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan was a very important part of Miriam’s faith and life. She sang faithfully in the choir, taught Sunday school and led Bible study. Miriam was also a participant, then leader, in Women’s Bible Study Fellowship for many years. She enjoyed her church 39 ‘ers group, who did many canoe trips and progressive dinners together. (They are now the 89ers+!). The close friendships developed during these years were so important to both Miriam and Jerry, and she had so many happy memories including hundreds of photos of times spent camping, sharing fellowship and traveling with church friends. After Jerry passed away in 2000, these friends, along with her family, became her greatest support and she loved and appreciated each and every one.
Miriam, or “Grams” as she was affectionately known was the proud grandma of her five grandchildren! She loved knowing about all they did and what they were doing. Later, along came her six great-grandkids, who she loved talking about to anyone she met and who would listen. They were always so sweet to her, and even in the last weeks of her life, they came to see her and sang her songs like "You are My Sunshine," and "Jesus Loves Me." Family was truly the most important thing to her!
During Miriam's last weeks, she repeatedly said she was ready to go to Heaven, but that she would miss everyone. She wanted and received assurance that she would one day see each of her family again, someday in Heaven.
In the hearts of those who knew and loved her, Miriam was indeed a treasure who was admired, loved, and respected most. A strong, faithful, loving, and determined woman, she could also prove to be a bit sassy at times! She trusted that her Lord would never leave her nor forsake her, and she loved her family and friends unconditionally. With ways all her own, Miriam’s unconditional love will be remembered and missed forever. Rest in peace, in His promises.
Miriam Elizabeth Anderson, age 90 of Grand Rapids, entered her heavenly home on July 31, 2022. Besides her parents, she was also preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Jerry Anderson, in 2000; siblings, Grace Howrey, Paul Thompson and Dan Thompson; and stepmother, Lila Thompson. She is survived by her children, Shelly (Glenn) Smith, Lori (John) Koutsky, Jeff Anderson; grandchildren, Jodi (Ken) Fessenden, Andrew (Christina) Smith, Andrea (Jermain) King, Kayli Koutsky, Kristi Anderson; great-grandchildren, Danika, Audra, Mayli, Jackson, Izabella and Lyncoln. She is also survived by her siblings, Jim (Chris) Thompson, Anita Thompson; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Phyllis (Cap) Proctor, Tom (Kay) Anderson, Cliff (Bev) Anderson; and many nieces and nephews. A funeral service will be held Saturday, August 6, 2022, at 11:00 AM at First Evangelical Covenant Church, 1933 Tremont Blvd NW. Friends may visit with her family beginning at 10:00 AM. Interment will be in Rosedale Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Chad Tough Fund – Defeat DIPG Foundation or First Evangelical Covenant Church. To read more of Miriam’s Life Story, sign her online guest book or to leave a memory or condolence, please visit www.heritagelifestory.com.