Saturday, January 20, 2024
11:00 AM EST
Westend Christian Reformed Church
1015 Westend Ave 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.
West Side Christian School
955 West End
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
401 Hall St. SW, Suite 263
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Geraldine Breen, it is easy to see both her unwavering strength and her unconditional love for her family. Her unshakeable faith formed the foundation of all that she did, and she was always willing to go above and beyond to serve others. Nothing brought Gerie greater joy than surrounding herself with her loved ones. She exemplified a life of selflessness and generosity. Forever loved, Gerie will be dearly missed by those who knew her best.
The 1920s was an influential time in the United States. The “Roaring 20s,” as the decade is known, ushered in great economic and social change. Motion pictures became widely available in both color and sound, and ballroom dancing and jazz music became wildly popular as well. It was during this exciting time that George and Rika (Terhorst) Rinzema of Grand Rapids, Michigan, were eagerly anticipating the birth of their first child. On January 24, 1926, they welcomed their daughter, who they named Geraldine, into the world.
Growing up, Gerie was a typical young girl of her generation in many ways. She was raised in the family home on the West side of Grand Rapids alongside her younger siblings, Joan, Arnold, Wilma, Bob, and Ann. The Rinzema family first lived on Crosby Street, then settled into their longtime home on Pannell Avenue. They were members of the Alpine Avenue Christian Reformed Church, where Gerie formed the foundation of the faith that would serve her well for years to come. Due to her mother’s illness, Gerie took on responsibilities at a young age. Though the Great Depression swept over the nation around this time, the Rinzema family was able to make ends meet and always had food on the table. Gerie attended local schools, including Pine Street School. She would walk herself there every day, often crossing the creek on a narrow plank. Throughout Gerie’s childhood, she nurtured a deep passion for animals. The family owned work horses that she loved to ride and care for.
New and exciting changes were on the horizon for Geraldine as she met the man who would quickly become the love of her life. His name was Raymond Breen, and Gerie first caught Ray’s eye at church and the skating rink. However, it wasn’t until Ray and Gerie’s cousin, who were both serving in the United States Army, were home on furlough that the two would officially meet on a double date. There was an instant spark between them, and they exchanged letters for a time. When Ray couldn’t wait to propose any longer, his parents bought a ring and asked Gerie on their son’s behalf. After Ray’s discharge in January of 1946, the couple were finally able to set a date. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Gerie and Ray were married on September 20, 1946. The newlyweds then enjoyed a honeymoon crossing Lake Michigan on the ferry before settling down on the West side of Grand Rapids.
All who knew Gerie can surely agree that, of all the things she loved in life, she treasured her family above all else. She and Ray were overjoyed to welcome their four children, Gary, Rick, Ray Jr., and Laura, into their hearts and home. Gerie truly thrived in her role as a mother and dedicated herself to caring for her home and her family. She prayed relentlessly for her children and raised them to be responsible, hard working individuals. Gerie instilled her love for animals in her children and taught them all to ride horses as well. Later in life, she was thrilled to become a grandmother, a great-grandmother, and even a great-great-grandmother. Gerie adored her children and doted on them whenever she could. She always considered herself blessed to watch her family grow to include so many loved ones.
Pets and animals were considered to be part of Gerie’s family, too. She and Ray owned horses and belonged to several riding clubs, giving them the opportunity to ride in parades, shows, and even a rodeo. Gerie loved her cats and dogs, and she raised litters of collies over the years to help pay for her children’s Christian school tuition. While living in Baldwin, she had a name for every chipmunk that she fed. Gerie was endlessly compassionate to people and animals alike.
Never one to sit still for long, Gerie pursued many hobbies to stay busy in her free time. She was an excellent cook and enjoyed canning food. Gerie had a creative streak and loved crafts. She would even decorate float entries for the Standale Celebration parade and was especially talented at oil painting. She liked to knit and crochet, and she was an avid Detroit sports fan. The Breen family took annual, two-week long vacations to Long Lake near Traverse City. Gerie and Ray also enjoyed traveling the world, and over the years, they visited Hawaii, China, and various locations in Europe. She was especially touched to be able to visit Israel and walk where Jesus walked, and she was also involved in a meaningful mission trip to Africa. Gerie loved dressing up for Halloween parties, square dancing, and playing games with friends. In recent years, she and Ray enjoyed spending winters in warmer weather, first in Florida and then in Arizona, where they made many close friends.
As family and friends can certainly attest, Geraldine Breen truly understood the secret to a life well lived. She was a constant source of strength, even in the most difficult of times, and she was a serving member of her community and her church. A devoted wife, mother, and grandmother, Gerie was a friend to all and beloved by many. She was well known for her contagious laugh and her insatiable zest for life. Though she will be deeply missed, Gerie leaves behind a priceless legacy that her loved ones will be proud to carry on in her footsteps.
Geraldine (Rinzema) Breen, of Marne, age 97, (fondly known as Gerie) went to be with her loving Lord and Savior on January 16, 2024. She was preceded in death by Joan Kremers (sister), Arnold Rinzema (brother), Mary Breen (daughter-in-law) and Chuck Breen (grandson). She is survived by Ray, her loving husband of 77 years, sons Gary (Jan), Rick, Ray Jr. (Bev) and daughter, Laura McClellan (Jim). She was blessed with 10 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild. Also surviving Gerie is Wilma Poelman (sister), Bob Rinzema (brother), Ann Keller (sister), Paul Kremers (brother-in-law) as well as several nieces and nephews. Gerie was a member of Westend Christian Reformed Church for 24 years.
Gerie loved Jesus and prayed faithfully for her family every day. She loved to knit and crochet and made many hats for others. She loved to watch Detroit baseball and basketball as well as being a gifted artist and a wonderful cook. She loved animals, especially her cats, rode horses for many years, and raised litters of puppies. Gerie had a servant’s heart and will be greatly missed by her family and friends.
Her funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 20 at 11 AM at Westend Christian Reformed Church. Her family will greet visitors on Friday from 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel and on Saturday at church beginning at 10 AM. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to either West Side Christian School or Emmanuel Hospice are appreciated. To read more about Gerie, to share a memory or to sign her guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com