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.
625 Kenmoor Ave SE #115
Grand Rapids, MI 49546
(All donations to Kindred Hospice will be forwarded to the benevolent fund called Grace Hospice Foundation)
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Loving, sincere, generous, and kind, Mary Theresa Gorter-Hoff lived an open-hearted life rich in family, friends, and service to others. A woman who knew no strangers, Theresa’s ease at befriending others was only exceeded by her loyalty to the people she loved. Regardless of circumstances and personality, once welcome to her heart, there you remained for all of her days. A safe harbor for others to simply be, Theresa was a powerful role model and inspiration for many. A loving wife and mother, unwavering friend, and treasured “Nene,” Theresa was a gift to all who were blessed to know her.
1948 proved a year of continued celebration of the nation’s momentous victory in World War II. America's heroes eagerly returned home to a country filled with renewed spirit and hope ready to claim their share of the American Dream, which they fought so proudly for overseas. As American prosperity grew like no time in our history hope sprang eternally, and the Greatest Generation soon proliferated creating the age of the Baby Boomers. In Grand Rapids, MI the cause for celebration grew even greater as Harold and Margaret (Miller) DuShane welcomed their daughter Mary Theresa into their hearts and home on March 10.
The middle of the DuShane’s five children, their only daughter, was bookended by a pair of brothers. The family made their home on the NE side of Grand Rapids, where they celebrated and explored their faith as members of St. Andrews Cathedral. The DuShane household was firmly rooted in faith and family values, and though they struggled financially, they never lacked in love. Times became more difficult when her parents divorced when she was about 11 years old, and Theresa ended up taking on more responsibilities for the care of her younger brothers. While challenging, these were formative years when Theresa grew independent learning the value of the dollar, establishing deep strength in her life from her faith, and coming to value time with family as a treasure.
The family often gathered for picnics at Townsend Park and Long Lake. She walked everywhere as a kid and after school would sometimes make her way to the library, traveling through Veterans Park. The library was her sanctuary, and she would often stay there reading until closing time. Theresa completed her elementary education at St. Andrews School and later attended Catholic Central High School. During her school years, she made many friends. These friendships proved a firm foundation upon which she built the rest of her life, and she was blessed to share them all of her days.
After graduating from high school in 1966, Theresa found work at Michigan Bell. Fortune blessed Theresa with a very successful blind date. Instantly smitten with Wiep Gorter, the young pair were soon a couple setting their eyes on a future together. They married on October 21, 1967, and settled into an apartment on the West side of Grand Rapids.
Soon their family grew to include their daughter Tracey which inspired a move to their longtime home on Auburn Street in 1970, where they completed the family with son Aaron. Tracey and Aaron were the center of Theresa’s world, and she relished in creating a loving home for her family. She was a meticulous homemaker who seemed always to be cleaning and ironing. Everything needed to be ironed! She loved to cook for her loved ones and knew what everyone liked. Many of her wonderful dishes featured the loving bounty of her vegetable garden. A consummate planner, Theresa whether reading for the week or vacation she prepared lunches for everyone that included her fresh baked goods. Though she thrived in order and was rarely still, she also allowed the home to be lived in.
Theresa predominantly managed the house but did find some odd jobs to get her out, like being a banquet server at Duba’s restaurant. As active members at Plainfield United Methodist Church the family not only participated in many church functions but also made a lot of close friendships. Whether at work, volunteering, tending the home or sharing time with friends, Theresa always wanted to be doing something to help out. She rarely sat down to relax unless it involved sunshine and a lawn chair, or maybe the treat of having a baby or a dog on her lap.
She liked a simple life and would hang sheets outside, and when they moved houses, she had the dishwasher removed in the new house because she would rather do the dishes by hand. She and Wiep also enjoyed cruising the neighborhood on their bikes. She was slow to adapt to new things, especially for the kids. She much preferred they play outside than sit in front of the “Boob tube.” In time, Theresa found work at a dentist office where she knew several of the employees. When the kids were young, she managed to be able to see them off for school, then be home by the time they returned at the end of the day. She also had time to be active at the kids' school; and volunteered with the PTA and with the sports boosters.
Many wonderful vacations were shared over the years. They did a lot of camping that began with a small Holiday Rambler. Every few years they upgraded to a larger camper that afforded more comfort during their exploration of the many state parks along West Michigan’s lakeshore and the Upper Penninsula. They traveled to Florida to visit relatives and also took their kids to Cedar Point. As the kids grew older, Theresa and Wiep continued to travel with friends. They took a cruise and enjoyed a trip to Hawaii so much, they returned a couple of years later with their kids.
With a natural gift for caring for others, as the kids grew older, Theresa decided to go back to school to become a nurse. With much study and signature discipline, Theresa graduated from Grand Rapids Community College as a Licensed Practical Nurse. For the next five years or so she worked at Forest Hills Pediatrics. She absolutely loved her work; however, her life changed when Wiep was diagnosed with cancer. As Wiep grew sicker, Theresa felt called to stay home to ensure his good care. For the next two years, she tended to Wiep enveloping him in love and comfort through his final days.
An avid reader throughout life, Theresa turned to this love in her grief. Each day she read the paper cover to cover then completed the daily crossword puzzle. Many, many books were read as she spent more time at home. In addition to finding comfort in books, she spent more time volunteering. She helped organize blood drives at church, visiting residents at Clark Retirement Home, and helping at the local coffee-ice cream shop. She also volunteered as a mentor. While volunteering balmed her heart, nothing gave her greater joy than spending time with her grandchildren. She cherished every moment with them often taking them to local parks and beaches, exploring the zoo, and having them for overnights.
While attending a local high school football game, Theresa was introduced to Jim Hoff by mutual friends. Jim was very social and made conversation easy. As they began to get to know one another, they realized they had many common connections. Soon they were dating and in 2001 they married. For 13 years they enjoyed one another’s good company, traveling, golfing, attending church, and cheering on their grandchildren’s endeavors. In 2014, Jim passed away, and Theresa began another cycle of grieving.
Unfortunately, this cycle was soon complicated by the undeniable evidence that Theresa was showing signs of Alzheimer's. It was clear that she needed constant care, so she moved to Green Acres. Despite her health challenges, Theresa’s stewardship was steadfast even in times when she was hurting and in need. Her sense of always wanting to help others could be seen in her assisted living placement, when she started to believe she worked there, one time answering the staff phone and always checking on the other residents.
Though the world is significantly duller in the absence of Theresa’s warm light, the memories of her welcoming smile, love of people, and passion for caring for others will long be held as precious treasure in the hearts of all who loved her. May comfort be found in knowing that with each new friendship we make, good book we read, time we spend in nature, and moment we volunteer our time and talents, we will be emanating the light of Theresa’s legacy in our daily lives. In this way, she will continue to inspire others as she so inspired us.
Theresa Gorter-Hoff, age 71 of Grand Rapids, went home to be with her Lord and Savior on Tuesday, May 14, 2019.
She was preceded in death by her first husband, Wiep Gorter, in 1998, and by her second husband, James Hoff, in 2014. Theresa is survived by her children Tracey (Scott) Wild and Aaron (Rachel) Gorter; grandchildren Mitchell, Trevor and Emily Huff, Nickolas and Erik Gorter, Kennedy Donalson and Keane Gorter; her brothers Jim (Carol) DuShane, Ron (Linda) DuShane, Tom (Linda) DuShane, Mark DuShane; as well as many brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. The service to remember and celebrate Theresa’s life will be held on Monday, May 20, 2019 at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home- Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE where friends are invited to visit with her family on Sunday from 2-4 and 6-8 PM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Kindred Hospice are appreciated. Theresa's family thanks the staff at Green Acres of Lowell and the staff at Kindred Hospice for their hours of loving care. To read more about Theresa’s life, to share a memory or photo, or to sign her guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com