Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Jim Jaarsma

February 22, 1942 - September 5, 2023
Boyne City, MI



Friday, September 8, 2023
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 453-8263
Driving Directions


Saturday, September 9, 2023
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EDT
Remembrance Church


Saturday, September 9, 2023
11:00 AM EDT
Remembrance Church
4575 Remembrance Road NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534


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.

Helen Devos Childrens Foundation
100 Michigan NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
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


A jovial spirit who loved life are the most fitting words to describe Jim Jaarsma. He made many lasting friendships during his lifetime and wanted nothing more than to share in his family’s many successes. His legacy of being generous with both his time and his resources will be treasured by his close friends and loved ones.

1942 was a period of time marked by WWII. During the years of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Andrew and Frances (Haisma) Jaarsma were pleased to announce the birth of their oldest child, James Edward, on February 22nd, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Later joined by two sisters and a brother, his birth brought much joy and promise in an era of great change.

Growing up on the west side of town, Jim lived a very happy childhood. His early memories included helping his dad build homes in the area. He learned many tools of the trade during his developing years. His first vehicle was a tractor he had purchased to landscape the homes his dad had completed. They worked well as partners. When they weren’t busy on a project they spent time with their extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Outgoing as well as friendly, Jim held a full social calendar and never turned down any opportunity to join in on any fun! Once, he and a friend bought Cushman Eagle scooters and rode up to the Mackinac Bridge! There was never a dull moment when he was around! Jim attended West Side Christian School and graduated from Union High School. After graduation, Jim and his dad continued their work at Jaarsma Builders. Later, he would own the company that included three generations all working together building homes on the west side of Grand Rapids.

A local hang out Bud’s Hamburger provided him the opportunity to meet, Kay Kulhawik, the woman who would change the course of his life forever. They started out as friends until Jim worked up enough courage to ask her out and the rest was history! The happy couple married on December 28, 1963, in the minister's home next to Walker Christian Reformed Church. Kay and Jim honeymooned near Caberfae. They enjoyed bowling and watching the Detroit Lions and then traveled back home to party with their close friends on New Year’s Eve. Together, they welcomed home three wonderful children over the course of ten years.

During their childrearing years, Jim and Kay moved a remarkable twenty times. The family learned not to keep a lot of belongings as they were bound to move into the new home that he had completed. Although he worked long hours, Jim was committed to being home for dinner every night with his family. As a dad, Jim was exceptionally devoted and caring. He would play ball in the yard with his kids and they learned to appreciate his humor. When the kids were young, the family enjoyed most summer weekends at their family cottage on Hess Lake. They eventually found another cottage on Lake Charlevoix where they shared summer holidays and any weekend that could squeeze in a trip up north. During the past forty-three years, Jim worked his magic to make many improvements until the cottage became their eventual home about twelve years ago.

Jim held a wide variety of special pastimes. He loved spending Saturday evenings at the Berlin Raceway over the years. An avid NASCAR fan, Jim enjoyed cheering on his favorite drivers as well as enjoyed many trips to the Daytona 500. Jim worked hard to provide for his family and took great pride in maintaining the family home. For many years, he nurtured a large vegetable garden and tended to his flower beds. He almost always had a project to complete and loved tinkering about the house and yard for hours. For relaxation, he loved to read the paper and watch the news but soon was up again and working on his next project. He and Kay loved to entertain and enjoyed hosting friends and family over to their home. Jim loved to share a conversation that almost always included his loud laughter!

As much as he enjoyed his years as a dad, Jim cherished being a grandpa. He would often swing by and snatch up the grandkids for a few hours or take them on an adventure he had planned. He and Kay modeled for their family a deep love of their faith. They were long-time members of Remembrance Church. Jim’s special friends and family will always remember him for his genuine kindness and compassion toward others. May his special memories continue to warm their hearts whenever they are gathered together for generations to come.

James Edward Jaarsma, age 81, of Boyne City and formerly of Grand Rapids, went home to be with his Lord and Savior on September 5, 2023. He is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Kay; their children Mary Kay & Mike Houseman, Tara & Mark Masters; grandchildren; Kay (Dan) Zeldenrust, Chad (Alex) Houseman, Ryan Houseman, Tyler (fiancée Sydney) Houseman, and Brayden (friend Jillian) Houseman; great-grandchildren; Milo James Houseman, Andrea and Zane Zeldenrust; step-grandchildren; Tyler Masters, Courtney Masters, Kassidy (Billy) Huizar, Logan Masters; 8 step-great-grandchildren; sisters Carol (Marv) DeHaan and Diane Spear; sister-in-law Joyce Kulhawik; as well as nieces and nephews. Jim was preceded in death by his son, James Andrew “Andy” Jaarsma; his brother and sister-in-law, Terry (Sandy) Jaarsma; and his brother-in-law Jerry Spear.

The service to remember and celebrate Jim’s life will be held on Saturday, September 9 at 11 AM at Remembrance Church, 4575 Remembrance Road NW in Grand Rapids. Friends are invited to visit with his family on Friday from 4-7 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel and on Saturday at Church beginning at 10 AM. Memorial donations to Helen Devos Children’s Foundation are appreciated. To share a memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com