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.
2100 Raybrook Drive SE, Suite 300
Grand Rapids, MI 49546
(Tribute Gift in Memory of Susan Hawkins)
Alzheimer's Research at Van Andel Institute
333 Bostwick Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
As her family and friends can attest, Susan Hawkins truly understood the secret to a life well lived. She was a constant source of strength, even in the most difficult of times. Sue was always willing to go above and beyond to serve others, and her serving spirit allowed her to touch the hearts of countless others. In everything she did, she was a shining example of kindness and charity. Deeply loved, Sue will be dearly missed.
After the end of WWII in 1945, America was making the adjustment to being a nation at peace. It was during this transitional time that William and Eleanor DeFouw were blessed with the birth of the baby girl they named Susan Kay on October 15, 1946, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Growing up, Sue was a typical young girl of her generation. She spent most of her childhood growing up in the family home on Ellsmere Street NE in Grand Rapids as the oldest of three children. Throughout their years together, Sue grew very close to her younger siblings, Richard and Julie. The DeFouw family faithfully attended Fourth Reformed Church, and Sue dedicated her life to the Lord at a young age. She enjoyed going to Camp Geneva for several summers, and the family also enjoyed many summer vacations at Stoney Lake. Sue was very outgoing and loved talking to people, developing social skills that would serve her well for her entire life.
As a student Sue worked very hard to succeed. She went to Aberdeen School, Riverside Middle, and Creston High School. In addition to holding down her studies, Sue worked at a dental office. She was a social butterfly and enjoyed interacting with other students, teachers, and customers through the dental office, and she was a notorious flirt. Sue graduated from Creston and went on to continue studying at Grand Rapids Junior College. She trained to be a dental chairside assistant for two years before becoming valedictorian of her graduating class.
New and exciting changes were on the horizon for Sue as she met the man of her dreams. His name was Delbert “Skip” Hawkins, and he first caught her eye while she was working at the dental office as he was a driver for a denture company. As the story goes, Sue would make sure that she was the one at the window whenever Skip was supposed to arrive. The two enjoyed a first date at a fair, and they dated for the two years that followed. Deeply in love, Sue and Skip were married on October 28, 1966. The newlyweds took a honeymoon to Florida, driving their blue VW bug, then spent a few days in the Bahamas as well. Soon after their marriage, Sue and Skip settled into a home across from her grandparents’ house on Burr Oak.
All who knew Sue can certainly agree that she treasured her family above all else. She and Skip were overjoyed to welcome their three beloved children into their hearts and home. Their oldest daughter, Melissa, was born while the new parents were living in their home on Burr Oak. Sue and Skip later built a new house in Whispering Pines, where they would spend the next 21 years, and welcomed their children, Amy and Greg, into their family. Once she became a mother, Sue devoted herself to caring for her family and providing for her loved ones. She wasn’t one to keep up on schedules and often jumped from one task to another, but she continually strove to be a role model for her children. Sue always stressed that relationships were more important than rules, and she was a very welcoming person whose door was always open to her children’s friends. If she noticed that her children were straying, she would sit them down and talk to them with Scripture passages at the ready. Sue was very involved in her children’s lives and enjoyed doing what she could to help at Creston Christian School. Later in life, she was thrilled to become a grandmother and spent as much quality time with her grandchildren as she could.
Though Sue’s first priority in life was her family, she was always willing to serve others and do whatever she could to help those in need. She had a gentle way of approaching people and offering gifts of hospitality and care, and she was very focused on serving others throughout her life. When Sue heard of a need for help with childcare, she opened her own arms and ran a daycare in her home for several years. She was affectionately known to many as “Momma Sue.”
Throughout their 56 years of marriage, Sue and Skip were able to see the world together. Whenever Skip had to travel for his work, they made a special trip out of it. The couple also enjoyed traveling with family and often went on cruises with close friends or extended family members. The Hawkins family loved camping during the summers and would spend time at Sand Lake, Pentwater, and Stoney Lake. Over the years, Sue and Skip took many memorable trips to Mackinac Island. They first started going annually to celebrate their anniversary, then began visiting in June to enjoy the Lilac Festival. Sue and Skip also traveled to see their daughter Melissa and her family in the Netherlands. Later in life, they spent a lot of time in Florida near Sanibel Island, where they welcomed friends from home and made many new friends as well. Whenever she traveled, Sue would bring home a stone or shell to add to her collection.
Never one to sit still for long, Sue pursued many hobbies. She was known for her green thumb and loved flowers ever since she was a young girl. Though she tried her hand at having a small vegetable garden, Sue eventually decided that she preferred her flowers. She was a lifelong member of Fourth Reformed Church, where she was very active with her friends and participated in various activities, including Calvinettes, women’s Bible studies, and Kids’ Hope. Sue loved playing Christian music on WCSG around her house. She had a flair for decorating and would often attend garage sales and antique sales to gather inspiration. Sue enjoyed crafts and took several classes in woodcarving and painting. Though she could cook, she truly preferred to bake, and she was known for her delicious cakes and cookies. Sue loved animals and liked to birdwatch. Over the years, she took in plenty of stray cats.
When reflecting on the life of Susan Hawkins, it is easy to see that her primary focus was fostering relationships with those around her. She had a heart for those in need and exemplified what it means to be the hands and feet of the Lord she loved. A loving wife and mother, Sue was filled with unspeakable joy to witness her family tree blossom to include the grandchildren she treasured. Although she will be deeply missed, she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
Susan Kay (DeFouw) Hawkins passed away on Saturday March 19, 2022. The doors of Heaven swung open and the Lord God greeted Sue with Loving Arms and said “Well done my good and faithful servant”. Sue fought a long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Sue’s whole life was characterized as one of caring, loving and enjoying people. Her radiant smile and welcoming personality was loved by all.
Sue was preceded in death by her parents, William and Eleanor DeFouw, as well as her brother, Richard DeFouw.
Sue is survived by her loving husband Del (Skip); children Melissa (Boogaard) Hawkins of Wijk bij Duurstede the Netherlands, Amy (Ken) Coeling of Rockford, MI and Gregory (Leslie) Hawkins of Grand Rapids, MI; her nine grandchildren; Annelies, Gabriel, Caleb, Miriam, Zachary, Sydney, Brayden, Marcel and Henry sister Julie (Jeff) Payne; sister-in-law Barb (Gordon) Nauta, Debbie (Mike) DeFouw-Buck.
Visitation will be on Thursday March 24 from 4-7 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield NE Grand Rapids, MI 49505. The funeral will be held on Friday March 25 at 11 AM at 4th Reformed Church 1226 Union Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505, where friends may also visit with her family beginning at 10 AM.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to either Van Andel Institute – Alzheimer Research (give.vai.org) or Faith Hospice (Tribute Gift in Memory of Susan Hawkins – faithhospicecare.org). To read more about Sue’s life, to share a memory or photo, or to sign her guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com