Thursday, October 12, 2023
11:00 AM EDT
Heritage Reformed Congregation
540 Crescent Street NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Visiting at church beginning at 10 AM until 10:45 AM.
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.
Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Living selflessly and putting others first were the core values of her life for Gloria Swann. Taking care of her family and everyone around her always came naturally from a very young age, and Gloria was always there for those in need. First for her mother that battled illnesses when Gloria was growing up, then later for her husband and four children, and eventually for her ten grandchildren. Gloria was never one to sit still, she was always keeping busy; Gloria loved to bake, travel, play board games, volunteer, and sing in the church choir. Though Gloria’s life was far too short, her memories and selfless spirit will live in the hearts of those that loved her forever.
The 1950s held a variety of memorable moments in history. Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states in the USA in 1959, and Dr. Seuss published his landmark book The Cat in the Hat in 1957. For parents James and Ruth Boluyt February 11, 1954, was one of the most memorable days of the decade as they welcomed their second child, Gloria Ruth, to the world. Gloria was one of five. She had an older brother, Jim, and three younger siblings Tom, Julie, and John. Gloria had a wonderful childhood. She enjoyed helping her mother with chores like gardening, canning, and doing laundry. In fact, Gloria learned quite a bit from her mom that she would carry on throughout the rest of her life. One fond memory was the family’s Saturday night tradition of eating hamburgers and ice cream malts. Gloria's servant nature began at a very young age as she would tend to chores around the house when her mom was unable to. The Boluyt family were also faithful members of the First Netherlands Reformed Church.
Gloria enjoyed attending Plymouth Christian School through the 8th grade and eventually attended Creston High School. One of her favorite subjects was French class where she enjoyed learning the language and taking a trip by train with her class to Quebec. Ever since that trip Gloria loved to travel. While Gloria was in high school, she had to attend one class at Central High and it was there that a friend of hers set her up on a blind date with a young man named Dave Swann. Sparks did not immediately fly for the pair. However, several months later, Dave reached back out to Gloria, and they began dating. They celebrated their marriage to each other on September 13, 1974, and took a delayed honeymoon a few months later to Florida. Since Dave was still attending school when the pair got married, they moved to East Lansing until he finished his degree and then moved back to Grand Rapids. Gloria worked various jobs until she and Dave welcomed their four children to the world.
From the moment her children were born Gloria dedicated herself to being a wonderful mother. She was active with her kids at Plymouth Christian School when they attended there; Gloria taught home economics, worked in the hot lunch area, and went on many field trips and school trips. When Gloria wasn’t tending to the children she loved to cook and bake. Gloria was well known for always making her famous cookies and apple turnovers. She enjoyed taking her children to the orchards to pick fresh fruit, bringing it home to make applesauce and strawberry jam. Gloria also enjoyed sewing and made many fancy dresses for her daughters and sewed patches in her son’s pants. The family took two memorable trips to Disney World and since 1994, would also rent a home on Lake Michigan for one week each summer. This week on the lake made for many memories for the Swann family and later in life for all of Gloria’s grandchildren.
Gloria was always actively involved in the community and doing anything she could to serve others. She sang in the church choir and enjoyed helping with the Sunday afternoon neighborhood Sunday School. Traveling abroad was always fun, and Gloria had many opportunities to do so with her daughters. They traveled to Cambodia, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Though Gloria tended to have a quiet personality, she always made sure to keep in touch with everyone by visiting and talking on the phone. She also enjoyed being a wonderful neighbor and would take many walks with them and her friends. Unfortunately, in 2008 Gloria and Dave received the tragic news that Gloria had Parkinson’s Disease. She and Dave made sure to educate themselves on the disease by doing research and joined support groups to help them on their long journey. Though the disease was very difficult to live with the past eight years, Gloria made it very clear that she would not let this awful disease define the rest of her life. She made sure to never say “I can’t” but rather would tackle new challenges and try new things that she may never have even tried before her diagnosis.
After being diagnosed with her illness, Gloria found peace in playing the piano or the organ and singing along with the words that were written in her heart. Life was also made brighter by her ten grandchildren. Gloria was a wonderful grandma and treasured each one of her grandchildren. She enjoyed picking up the kids to watch them and spent a lot of time cooking and playing board games with them. Gloria fiercely fought to keep her independence, and although she dedicated her life to helping others, she never wanted to accept help for herself. She had so much energy and always poured that energy into doing everything for everyone else. Gloria’s selfless personality is one to be cherished and admired by us all. As an individual with Parkinson’s Disease himself, Michael J. Fox summarizes Gloria’s actions throughout her life perfectly: “Our challenges don’t define us, our actions do.”
Gloria Ruth Swann, age 69 of Grand Rapids, went home to be with her Lord and Savior on October 8, 2023. She was preceded in death by her parents, James and Ruth Boluyt; and by her brother, Thomas. Gloria is survived by her husband, Dave; their children Adam & Kristy Swann, Allyson & Jonathon Beeke, Ashley Swann-Santander & Jorge Santander, Abraham David and Nichole Swann; grandchildren Madison and Dominic Swann, Kezia, Owen, Isla and Kiri Beeke, Inka and Leo Swann Santander; Mayhemina and Lillian Swann; siblings, James Jr. and Betty Boluyt, Julie & Tim LaRocque, John Boluyt & Amy Wierenga; sister-in-law and brothers-in-law Kathy & Tom Humphrey, Sharon & Sidney Berman, Truman Swann as well as several nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Her funeral service will be held on Thursday, October 12, 2023 at 11 AM at Heritage Reformed Congregation, 540 Crescent Street NE. Friends are invited to visit with Gloria’s family on Wednesday from 2-4 & 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Van Strien Creston Chapel and on Thursday at church beginning at 10 AM. For those who wish, Gloria’s family suggests memorial donations to Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. Gloria’s family also wishes to thank the staff at Green Acres Standale for the loving care they provided over the last months. To read more about Gloria, to share a memory or photo, or to sign her guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com