Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Elizabeth Paauw

June 19, 1953 - December 27, 2023
Grand Rapids, MI



Thursday, January 11, 2024
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EST
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 453-8263
Driving Directions


Friday, January 12, 2024
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM EST
Walker United Reformed Church


Friday, January 12, 2024
1:00 PM EST
Live Stream
Walker United Reformed Church
1941 Randall Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Web Site


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.

Sus Manos Gleaners (Building Fund)
2464 Wilshere Drive
Jenison, MI 49428
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Elizabeth Ann (Werner) Paauw, a woman of unwavering faith, went to be with her Lord and Savior on Wednesday, December 27, 2023. Born on June 19, 1953, she lived a life dedicated to spreading the love of Christ, extending warm hospitality to others, and embracing the joy of family and friends.

Liz spent her earlier years engaged in family activities with her parents and three sisters, including showing Arabian horses, traveling on overseas vacations, and spending time on the shores of Lake Michigan at a family cabin in Naubinway. She attended West Side Christian School and Grand Rapids Christian High School, and was an active member of LaGrave Christian Reformed Church, all communities that partnered with her parents and shared the love of Christ with her.

On graduating from high school in 1971, she entered the Calvin College pre-nursing program. As the full Calvin nursing program was not yet established, she finished her Bachelor of Nursing degree in the second graduating class of the Grand Valley nursing program in 1975. In God’s providence she met the love of her life, James (Jim) Paauw, while they were both students at Calvin College. Liz spent her first year as a nurse at the University of Michigan Medical Center where she worked on a floor with two 12-bed wards, with one RN assigned to each ward assisted by an LPN. If one of the nurses was ill, the remaining scheduled nurse would be charged with caring for all 24 patients.

Jim proposed to her on Christmas Day, 1975 and they got married on May 20, 1976 in the Seminary Chapel at Calvin College. They moved to Evanston, Illinois in August that year when Jim entered medical training. Liz worked as a Critical Care nurse at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, putting her husband through Northwestern University Medical School while starting their family with their first-born son. After Jim’s graduation in 1980, the family moved back to Grand Rapids where they raised their five children. Liz stayed home with her children until they were older, when she returned to work as a nurse in several of the urgent care centers in town. Throughout their entire life they held closely together in both favorable and difficult circumstances, taking time to have lunch together every day and to share about each other’s day before they went to sleep.

Liz felt her greatest calling was raising five children in the Lord, as she often called them, “four boys and an angel”: James, Timothy, Thomas (“Tom the Bomb”), Jacquelyn, and Mark. She cared for them deeply, attending every school and after-school activity in which they participated. To her last day, she remained very proud of them and their spouses, Halle, Laura, Emily, Brek, and Tamara, especially in their commitment to serving their Savior.

Her love for her children was matched by her deep love and prayers for each one of her fifteen (and coming sixteenth) grandchildren. As Jim often described her, “She’s a grandkid magnet.” Liz’s legacy shines in each one of them, and she desired nothing more than the assurance that each grandchild would make their own profession of their love for Jesus.

Jim and Liz lived with the philosophy of an open door for many who became like “family” to them over the years. Because of that philosophy, the Paauws recognized and loved: Maria Matul (Guatemala), Jorge & Ofelia Moreno (Mexico), Ayman & Samar Alboudi (Syria), Rodel & Ellen Rianzares (Philippines), the Elzinga children, Dan Door, Tyler VanDyk, Casey Groenendyk as “children in the family”; River Holmes, Almajd and Lour Alboudi as “grandkids”; and too many others in the “family” to list.

Elizabeth's faith was not just a personal journey; it was a testimony that she shared with everyone she met. Her genuine spirit touched the lives of countless individuals, leaving a lasting impact on their faith journeys. Especially after her 2016 car accident that changed her life in many ways, she wanted to know that every nurse, doctor, support person, and friend she interacted with were going to be with her one day in heaven, telling them of the powerful truth of Jesus’ love and saving grace.

Generosity flowed abundantly from Elizabeth's heart. She had a deep understanding of the blessings she had received and believed in sharing those blessings with others. She constantly was on the lookout for ways to encourage others with a gift. Elizabeth's generosity knew no bounds. She believed in the power of giving and was a true example of selflessness. Liz’s giving spirit was exemplified by her instrumental service as a founding and continuing board member of the nonprofit organization, Sus Manos Gleaners (www.smgleaners.org), which to date has sent over six million individual food servings to places in the world with desperate needs while sharing the Gospel through ministries distributing that food.

Elizabeth had an infectious sense of humor that could light up any room. Most people that knew her well, knew this about her. Her quick wit and lightheartedness brought joy and laughter to those around her.

Elizabeth (Werner) Paauw is proceeded in death by her parents, Charles & Marie Werner; and grandson Miles Paauw. She is survived by her husband, James; their children, James & Halle Paauw, Tim & Laura Paauw, Tom & Emily Paauw, Jackie & Brekstyn Schutten, Mark & Tamara Paauw; grandchildren, Nathaniel, Lexi, Tori, Kathryn, Nolan, Evan, Carter, Joelle, Brekstyn, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Gideon, Noelle, Auggie (and one on the way!); mother-in-law Edna; siblings Susan & Paul Steinbrecher, Jean Werner, Maria & Donavan Brouwer, Don & Winnie Paauw, Sheri & Dave Tweedale, Joan & Steve Brussee, and many nieces and nephews.

Friends are invited to visit with her family on Thursday, January 11, from 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel. The service to remember and celebrate Elizabeth’s life will be held on Friday, January 12, at 1:00 PM at Walker United Reformed Church with a visitation just prior at the church from 12:00-1:00 PM. A private burial service will be held for the family and close friends; Liz will be buried near her grandson Miles in Blain Cemetery.

For those who wish, memorial contributions can be given to Sus Manos Gleaners (Building Fund) to help expand their mission impact and create more volunteer opportunities. To share a memory of Liz or to sign her guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com

“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning…you have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”

Psalm 30:5, 11-12 (“Liz’s Psalm”)