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.
Edison Christian Health Center
1000 Edison Ave. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Frederik Meijer Gardens
1000 East Beltline
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Charlene Bylsma, it is easy to see both her unwavering strength and her unconditional love for her family. She was always willing to go above and beyond to serve others. Nothing brought Char greater joy than spending time with her loved ones, no matter how simple the moments. Her faith formed the unshakeable foundation of her life, and she was a shining example of kindness and generosity. Dearly missed, Charlene will be forever held in the hearts of those who knew her best.
The late 1930s are remembered as a time of great tension for the United States and the rest of the world. The Great Depression still clung to the country, and WWII loomed on the horizon. During this dark time, however, there was a ray of light for Gerald and Margaret (Brewer) Anderson of Grand Rapids, Michigan, as they eagerly anticipated the arrival of their first baby. On July 7, 1939, their wait was over, and they welcomed their daughter, Charlene Kay, into the world.
Growing up, Char was a typical young girl of her generation in many ways. She was raised in the family home on Ridgeway Street NE alongside her younger sister, Sharon. The foundations of Charlene’s faith were built at 2nd Congregational Church. The Anderson family suffered a devastating blow at the loss of Charlene’s father, Gerald, when she was just a teenager. The rest of the family pulled together to work through their grief. Char attended local schools, including Creston High School. She graduated from Grand Rapids Junior College, ready to move on to bigger and better things.
Exciting and unexpected changes were on the horizon for Char as she met the man who would soon become the love of her life. His name was William Bylsma, and the two first met while she was interviewing for a job. Charlene was hired for the job, but as her relationship with Bill began to flourish into something truly special, she decided to resign so that they could date. It didn’t take them long to realize that they were made for each other. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Charlene and Bill were married on September 15, 1961, at 2nd Congregational Church. Following a reception at the church, the newlyweds enjoyed a honeymoon to Chicago. Charlene and Bill lived for a time at a house on Gaynor Street before eventually building their longtime home on Stage Road.
All who knew Char can certainly agree that, of all the things she loved in life, she treasured her family above all else. Over the year, she and Bill were overjoyed to welcome their three beloved children, William Jr., Dan, and Beth, into their hearts and home. Char thrived in her role as a mother and devoted herself to caring for her children and her home. She was very supportive of her children, and she loved spending time with family at her mother’s house or at holidays. The Bylsma family enjoyed camping at the PJ Hoffmaster and Grand Haven State Parks, and the family cottage at Peterson lake and Newaygo was the backdrop for many priceless family memories throughout the years. Though Charlene occasionally worked as at Kelly Girl Temp Agency and as an office worker, her primary focus in life was always her family.
Later on in life, Charlene was thrilled to become a grandmother and even a great-grandmother. She adored her grandchildren and doted on them whenever she could, never missing a birthday, a sports event or activity, or a chance to simply listen to what they had to say. Char enjoyed hosting Work Day Projects, where she would have the grandchildren over to do projects and have a special treat of pizza and ice cream. She always considered herself blessed to be surrounded by so many loved ones.
Never one to sit still for long, Charlene pursued many hobbies to stay busy in her free time. She was a longtime member of the Buttwerworth Hospital Guild and spent many years volunteering there while socializing with the other volunteers. Char and Bill were faithful members of Orchard Hill Reformed Church. They enjoyed spending several weeks each winter at the All Seasons Resort in Maderia Beach, Florida. Char was an avid reader of romance novels, and she loved Hallmark Channel type novels as well. Over the years, she enjoyed the companionship of Golden Retrievers and cats. Char considered her pets to be part of the family.
As family and friends can surely attest, Charlene Bylsma truly understood the secret to a life well lived. She was a constant source of strength and encouragement, even in the most difficult of times. A dedicated wife, mother, and grandmother, Char was a friend to many and beloved by all. She was well known for her supportive nature and her heart of service, and she exemplified what it meant to live a life full of love for others. Though she will be deeply missed, Charlene leaves behind a priceless legacy that her loved ones will be proud to carry on in her footsteps.
Charlene Kay Bylsma, age 84, passed away February 8, 2024 at Butterworth Hospital. Charlene was born July 7, 1939 in Grand Rapids to the late Gerald and Margaret (Brewer) Anderson. She was a member of Orchard Hill Church and former longtime member of the Butterworth Guild. On September 15, 1961 Charlene married William Bylsma Sr.. Her husband of 62 years survives as do their children, William (Karen) Bylsma Jr, Dan (Sheryl) Bylsma, Beth Rohen; grandchildren, Jennifer (Jacob) Liimatta, Rachael Bylsma, Matthew Bylsma, Derek Bylsma, Drew Bylsma, Hannah Rohen; great grandson, Warner; sister, Sharon (Dick) Budden; and several nieces and nephews. A funeral service will be held Wednesday, February 14, 2024 at 1 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Friends may visit with family Tuesday, from 4-7 PM and beginning at 12 PM Wednesday at the funeral home. Interment will be in Rosedale Memorial Park. Memorials may be made to Edison Christian Health Center or Meijer Gardens.