Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Jo Fenske

March 17, 1925 - May 19, 2024
Grand Rapids, MI



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
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Life Story / Obituary


Josephine (Heemstra) Fenske

Jo was born on the Westside of Grand Rapids, MI on March 17, 1925, and was destined for a life full of love and laughter made possible by the many lives intertwined with hers throughout her 99 years of life. This included her parents and siblings, relatives, friends, neighbors, her beloved husband of 66 years, Ken, her five children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Music was always a passion of Jo’s, from singing in the school and church choir or on her porch with her dad or best childhood friend, Marge. This love of music continued with lots of dancing to the big bands or at weddings where she and Ken were always the last ones to leave the dance floor. She also enjoyed concerts and musicals over the years with friends and family.

Jo was an avid snowmobiler and loved nothing better than hitting the trails in the Upper Peninsula with her family and snowmobile friends. She loved the state of Michigan and enjoyed many family vacations at lakeside cottages and campgrounds, boating on the ’59 Cris Craft, and taking the 1947 Jeep Willys on the Silver Lake sand dunes. Ken and Jo had a lot of fun with all their couple friends; deer hunting, attending plays, throwing parties, and going out to eat.

Not only did Jo play hard, she also worked hard. Growing up during the depression, she often, as a young child, helped her dad with side jobs like lawn care. As a teen, while working at a downtown five and dime, she was proud to have saved enough money to buy her youngest sister, Evie, a new bicycle. At age 16, Jo met her future husband while working at the A & W root beer stand and their lifetime love story began. Then, at age 19, when she married Ken, she took on the hard work of a farmer’s wife for 17 years. She embraced the rural life by sharing her gift as a talented seamstress to lead a 4-H sewing group. In 1953 they started a different line of work in the gravel business and owned and operated Grand Valley Gravel and eventually Fenske Redi-mix for many years. In their 70s, they also developed and ran Lakes of the Valley Campground for 10 years.

Jo adored every single one of her grandchildren and spent countless hours being the grandma everyone loved to be with. All the grandchildren treasured the endless summer days at the pool, numerous sleepovers and birthday parties, and sick days from school when she would spoil them with TV time and chicken noodle soup. Her constant love and dedication to all the grandkids made her a shining light in their lives and set an amazing example of selflessness and sacrifice to always be there for them even during the demanding times of running the family businesses.

She truly added sparkle to every gathering she attended. Her children will be forever indebted to the amazing example she set on how to live a Life Well Lived.

Josephine (Jo) Fenske, born March 17, 1925, went home to be with her Lord and Savior on May 19, 2024, at age 99. She is survived by her children Roger (Judy) Fenske, Steven Fenske, Lorene (Robert) Prelewitz and Joyce Fenske, many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and friends. Jo was preceded in death by her husband of 66 years Kenneth Fenske, son Russell Fenske, grandson Raymond Fenske, daughter-in-law Debra Fenske, great-grandson Joseph Garvin, her siblings Chuck (Bessie) Heemstra, Emma (Mart) Abma, Evie (Will) Watson, and her in-law siblings Bob (Peggie) Fenske and Howard (Leona) Fenske. In honor of Josephine’s wishes, cremation has taken place. Interment in Rosedale Memorial Park followed by a private, family memorial celebration that will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society. To read more about Jo, share a memory or sign her guestbook, please visit www.heritagelifestory.com.