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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Janet “Janette” Hoek would agree that she was a kind and gentle soul whose heart beat to love others well. A cherished and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, she had a special way of making each person feel uniquely known and loved. Janet was guided by an unwavering faith, and her strength and independence was such an inspiration. It has been said she had the softest hands, and even more important was her openness to offer a tender touch to those who needed it. Deeply loved, Janet will be forever missed.
During a time when our nation was deeply entrenched in WWI, Andrew and Mary (DeVries) Vander Zee were pleased to announce the birth of the baby girl they named Janet on October 6, 1918. Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, she was one of six children and was raised alongside her siblings, Andy, Ray, Eddie, Bertha, and Louise. Her parents both emigrated from Friesland, the Netherlands in the early 1900s with hopes of better tomorrows. To support their family, Janet’s father owned a merchant boat and was also a carpenter, violinist, and tuned organs. Her mother was both a homemaker and seamstress, and one of Janet’s fondest memories was the smell of her mother’s soup simmering all day.
The Vander Zee family lived in several locations throughout Janet’s childhood. After some time spent living on the West Side, their family moved to a farm in Byron Center during the Great Depression. Although Janet was not fond of farm chores, the food they provided for themselves was a great help during these trying times. Janet also helped with cooking and housework. Their family pet was a terrier, and although small, it was fierce and was known for protecting their homestead from theft as well as animals who would have otherwise threatened their farm. Also worth noting was the time Janet got too close to the wood stove and ended up burning her neck and chest when her nightgown caught fire. Janet and her siblings walked over two miles to school, where she developed a strong memory for classic poetry. She was also a great speller, which grew into a passion for crossword puzzles. As was common, Janet’s formal education ended after graduating from the eighth grade. Her mother also taught her to knit at the young age of four, and she also learned to bake, sew, crochet, and quilt from her mother. These skills were not only cherished by her children, but her grandchildren who received her homemade quilts and her great-grandchildren who have to treasure her homemade afghans.
New and exciting changes were in store for Janet when she met the young man who would forever hold the key to her heart. His name was Adrian Hoek, and they met at his going away party in 1933 as he was headed to Chicago to train in refrigeration. After Adrian contacted Janet when he got back, it didn’t take them long to fall in love. They became engaged when she was just 18 and he was 23, and it was on April 29, 1938, that they were married.
The newlyweds settled into a home on Patton Street that was built by Janet’s uncle, Ed DeVries, and this was the place they called home throughout their entire marriage. Together they welcomed two daughters, Janet Adrianne and Debra Kathleen, into their hearts and home. Cooking was one of Janet's greatest joys. She was known for her dinner parties, and her cooking and baking skills were simply unmatched. Janet's traditional cream puffs each New Year’s Eve was always a favorite, as well as her homemade fat balls, apple pie, almond tassies, and oven-baked fried chicken. At Christmastime she made several varieties of fudge in addition to peanut brittle, chocolate, and cookies - most of which was given away to neighbors, friends, and family. Sunday family dinners were a tradition in Janet’s home until she was well into her eighties. There was nothing like coming through the front door to be greeted by the smells of her oven fried chicken. It also goes without saying that no one ever went hungry and her weekly dinners rivaled any Thanksgiving feast.
Janet was also known for her strong work ethic that carried into everything she did. When she was 14, she moved away from home to be a live-in nanny and housekeeper, and she continued to clean houses for families over the years. Janet also worked at Fruition Fruit Market for a few years in her early forties, ran a book binder machine at Eerdmans Publishing, and was an assistant to the curator at the Grand Rapids Public Museum for 15 years. In addition, Janet volunteered on a genealogy project for the Church of Latter Day Saints, translating Dutch into English, and she also worked late into her eighties as a nanny and taking care of the ironing for a local family. Janet attended a singing school at Netherlands Reformed Church while dating Adrian, and they also attended church there until moving to 7th Reformed. In later years, she attended Faith United Methodist with Debra. Janet worked on a charity project making squares for afghans that were donated to veterans for several years in her nineties, and she also knitted about 50 hats that were donations to church and school projects as well as cancer patients. Janet enjoyed eating at Lannings, Sveden House, and Mr. Fables, and as a lifelong ice cream lover, she enjoyed her Wendy’s Frosty's.
It was easy to see that Janet’s most treasured moments were spent with loved ones. Whether she was reading nursery rhymes with Jan on her lap when she was little or making a home cooked meal for Debra when she got home from work late, she was always there for her kids. Janet and her husband loved taking fishing vacations, and Sugar Island was one of their favorites. For 30 years their place on the Muskegon River was the place to spend weekends, usually with family and friends. There were always adventures to be had including floating down the river, card games, or visiting the trout pond and taking bike rides. When Debra was 17, Janet jumped on the opportunity for the two of them to camp throughout Europe, and the trip out West that she took with Adrian as well Jan and her three children for three weeks was unforgettable as they traveled to Oregon and up to British Columbia. Although she and her husband had hoped to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary with a trip to the Netherlands, he passed away before the trip could happen. In January of 1989, Janet was thrilled to take that trip with Jan. Janet has been described as a magical grandma, and she always knew just what to say to make everyone feel special. Over the years Janet helped raise and watch several of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, spending hours pushing them in the stroller, singing to them, and telling them stories. Janet inspired several of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren to take up sewing, cooking, and baking.
In her free time Janet enjoyed keeping busy. She could often be found reading her favorite inspirational romance novel, working on crossword puzzles and word searches, or of course keeping up with her cooking and handcraft projects. Janet loved the old time hymns, and sang and hummed along until her last days. She treasured the piano her husband gave her for their 10th wedding anniversary, and all of her sewing, quilting, and baking supplies and equipment were also near and dear to her heart including the state of the art Serger machine she once bought.
With a life that spanned more than a century, Janet Hoek touched the lives of so many others in such a special way. She considered her roles as a wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother to be her highest calling and richest blessing, and she was happiest when surrounded by the love of her family and friends. Janet leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
Janet Hoek, age 103 of Grand Rapids, passed away on Saturday September 18, 2022 while in the comfort of her home and in the company of family. She was preceded in death by her husband, Adrian and grandson Jack Adrian VanderSloot. Janet is survived by her children Janet & Jack VanderSloot, and Debra Hoek; grandchildren June (Brian) Timmer, Julianne (Dakota) Jones, Krista Vander Meulen, Stacy Hoek and Augustine (Brandy) Jannenga and seven great-grandchildren. The service to remember Janet’s life will be held on Thursday, September 22, 2022 at 1:00 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW, where friends are invited to visit with her family prior to the service beginning at 12:00 PM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to the Northwest Food Pantry, (1224 Davis Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504) are appreciated.