Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Jean Sytsema

June 14, 1927 - September 11, 2020
Grand Rapids, MI



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.

Lake Effect Church
PO Box 2623 Grand Rapids, MI 49501
Grand Rapids, MI 49501
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


On June 14, 1927, Jean Wilma Schierbeek was born to William and Fanny Schierbeek, in rural McBain, Michigan. Jean grew up at Stony Corners, the farm belonging to her parents, where she was known as a “tom-boy,” always preferring being outdoors and helping her dad with the many chores.

Jean had three siblings: her older sister, Mina, along with Annabelle and William, both younger than she. Tragically, when Annabelle was ten, she passed away suddenly after a brief, unexpected illness. While the strong Christian values of her parents and her wholesome farm life no doubt played a role, it was likely the death of her sister that gave Jean a remarkably deep appreciation and love of family that was evident in every part of her life right up to her final breath.

As a young woman, Jean moved to Grand Rapids where she lived with her sister, Mina. It was Mina and her friend Julia who set her up on a blind date with Julia’s nephew, a handsome Army staff sergeant named Bud Sytsema. The date went well! Bud and Jean were married on May 4, 1956, when they embarked on what would be a 62-year journey together. After two years of marriage, they celebrated the birth of their daughter, Mary. They continued celebrating over the next eight years as they rounded out their family and filled their home with the births of Bill, Sara, Craig and Jack.

It was there, as a wife and the mother of five, that Jean truly shined. If only one word were used to describe her, it would be devoted. She gave Bud the home-front support he needed as he rose to become an executive at Bissell, serving as president and general manager for their Graphics Division. And she worked tirelessly to support and guide her children as they grew into strong, successful adults.

But it was not just in the home that she shined her light. Jean had a gift of hospitality and kindness. She was always among the first to respond to needs by providing meals to those in crisis, writing cards, and making phone calls to those who needed an encouraging word. She sat by countless hospital bedsides, often for days, providing support and help to the sick and their families. She was quick to give gifts and was always considering how to make thoughtful gestures.

Jean loved being friendly and social, which resulted in many life-long friends. They loved her for one simple reason. She knew how to be an exceptional friend. She understood the value of loyalty, love, and selflessness. She knew how to rejoice with those who rejoiced, and mourn with those who were in mourning.

But her devotion was not only toward people. She loved the Lord and faithfully followed Him all the days of her life. She took her faith seriously and prayed often, interceding for the needs of those around her, and seeking comfort in God for herself. She was deeply involved in her church, 12th Street CRC, and in her kids’ school, West Side Christian School, wanting above all else to instill her deep faith in the grace and salvation of Jesus in her children.

If Jean shined as a wife, mom and friend, she shined all the brighter as a grandmother of 15 and great grandmother of 9, where she found great joy and satisfaction. She took the time to get to know each of her grandchildren as individuals and always found ways of entering into their interests. She attended plays, chapels, school functions, and sporting events of all types. She hosted huge family dinners every Sunday, and babysat as long as she was physically able (and kept offering long after that). Grandma’s house was a second home to grandkids living nearby, and a favorite vacation destination to those living far away. And with a basement full of swings, make-shift slides, a pool table, a TV playing endless loops of home videos, and Grandma cooking all the favorites, who wouldn’t love it?

But for all she gave, she also knew how to relax and enjoy life as well. She was an avid golfer, walker, gardener, and played a mean game of Hand and Foot. She enjoyed crafting and frequenting small local shops wherever she happened to be, often buying greeting cards, candles, and quirky gifts for family and friends. While her kids were young, they often camped at Sand Lake or rented lakeside cottages in places like Holland or Leelanau, to name a few. In later years, Jean and Bud spent many winters enjoying the warmth and beauty of Florida. She lived the last six years of her life at Sunset retirement home where she continued making new friends and making a hobby out of doing her neighbors’ laundry and buying them Kleenex. As we sat with her on her final day, the staff at Sunset told us of their genuine love and fondness for her. She continued to participate in the activities at Sunset right up to the end.

It is hard to express the full sum of a truly beautiful, selfless woman in a few short paragraphs. Words will never express the degree to which we who are left behind will cherish our memories and miss her warmth and the special touch of our mother and grandmother. There is a hole in our hearts that will not be filled until the wonderful day when we will see her again on that beautiful shore in Heaven!

SYTSEMA – Mrs. Jean Wilma Sytsema aged 93, of Jenison, went to be with her Lord on Friday, September 11, 2020. Jean was born on June 14, 1927 to William and Fanny Schierbeek in McBain, MI. Along with her parents, Jean is preceded in death by her husband of 62 years, William “Bud” who passed away in 2018, and her siblings, Mina (Edward) Steensma, Bill (Luanne) Schierbeek, and Annabelle Schierbeek. She was a wonderful wife, mother, sister, aunt and an exceptional grandmother and great grandmother as well as a leader in the Christian community. After raising her five children, Jean had a great retirement filled with golf, wintering in Florida, and deep enjoyment of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren as well her other family and a great number of friends. Surviving are her children, Mary (Dave) Gritter, Bill (Jeaninne) Sytsema, Sara Bruyn, Craig (Melissa) Sytsema and Jack (Rebecca) Sytsema; grandchildren, Kelly (Jason) Lovell, Kirsten (Spencer) Vereecken, Holly (Nathan) Kroeze, Jaclyn (Jared) Kukulies, Pamela Sytsema, Jonathan Sytsema, Imani Sytsema, Alex Bruyn, Ethan Bruyn, Zoe (Tom) Bouwkamp, Casey Sytsema, Elisabeth Sytsema, Nicholas Sytsema, Samuel Sytsema and Trey Sytsema and great-grandchildren, Aniya, Wyatt, Jeanibelle, Deacon, C.J., Georgina, Jack, Liam, Reagan, and Scotland. Due to current COVID restrictions, private family funeral services have been scheduled. Contributions in her memory may be made to Lake Effect Church (PO Box 2623, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 or online at LakeEffect.church/give-now/ select Jean Sytsema Memorial Fund). Please visit HeritageLifeStory.com to submit a memory, photo or to sign the guestbook.