Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Joyce VerHaar

March 26, 1928 - April 9, 2021
Grand Rapids, MI



Wednesday, April 21, 2021
11:00 AM EDT
LaGrave Ave Christian Reformed Church
107 LaGrave Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 454-7204

Visitation will be from 10 AM until 10 minutes before the service.

Web Site


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.

LaGrave Ave CRC
107 LaGrave Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Web Site

St. Cecelia Music Society
24 Ransom Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
1 (616) 459-2224
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


All who knew Joyce Nell VerHaar can agree that she truly understood the secret to a life well lived. She was a devout Christian, dedicated musician, and a world traveler.

The 1920s were an exciting in in America. Ballroom dancing and jazz music were part of the cultural fabric of this time, and with cars that were mass produced on assembly lines they were more affordable for the average American family. It was also during this exciting time that Abraham and Helen (Veltman) VerHaar were pleased to announce the birth of the baby girl they named Joyce on March 26, 1928, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Growing up, Joyce was a typical young girl of her generation in many ways. She was raised in the family home on 1100 Alpine Avenue. Joyce’s father supported his family by working as a tool and die maker, and her mother dedicated herself to her family as a homemaker. During the tough times of the Great Depression, Joyce and her parents moved to California where Helen’s sister owned a fruit farm and offered their father a job and their family a place to live. On the trip out, Joyce was the self-appointed map reader, which gave birth to her love for travel.

Joyce attended Grand Rapids Public Schools and graduated from Union High School in 1946. Throughout her high school years, she was the piano accompanist for the school choirs. Joyce began her undergraduate studies at the Eastman School of Music and completed her BA in Music at the University of Michigan where she also earned her Masters of Music as well.

Joyce’s teaching career began even before she left high school; assisting her private piano instructor with her students. Upon graduation from Michigan, Joyce became a faculty member at Grand Rapids Community College, teaching music history, music literature, keyboard harmony, and classic piano courses until 1988. After retiring from GRCC Joyce taught music appreciation courses at Aquinas College-Emeritus College. She continued private piano lessons for children and adults throughout her life until 2013. Many students benefited from her expertise and insight. Joyce was also involved in numerous organizations, especially the Grand Rapids Piano Teachers Forum (founding member) and the St. Cecelia Music Society (member, soloist and accompanist). She was a member of the Michigan Music Teachers Association and was an adjudicator for many years. Joyce considered herself blessed to make a career out of her passion.

In addition to her career, she valued her family and her extended family. She loved to entertain friends and relatives. Joyce enjoyed spending time in the kitchen trying out new recipes, and was happy to have a home-cooked meal rather than restaurant fare. Although she was not a participant in sports, she was an ardent fan of Michigan football and basketball games since her days at the University of Michigan.

Not only did she like being at home, Joyce loved traveling to exciting locations all over the world including to Australia, New Zealand, Russia, China, South Africa, the Holy Land, and various places in Europe. These trips were made even more special when Joyce traveled with Uncle “Cub” (Herbert Veltman) or various friends. She collected many oil and water color paintings, especially from her trips. Every piece had a story to go along with it.

Joyce’s faith was an integral part of who she was. She was a dedicated Christian and was involved in creating meaningful worship services through word and music at her previous church-Christ Church-PCA. Joyce loved the Lord and was always seeking knowledge and understanding about the Christian life.

When reflecting on the life of Joyce Nell VerHaar, it is easy to recognize her commitment to the understanding and appreciation of music education and performance. She was known for her insightful questions and knowledge, and she was always willing to teach and learn from others.

In order to receive more care, Joyce moved to Covenant Living of the Great Lakes, where she continued to tell stories and have great conversations with anyone she engaged with. Though she will be dearly missed, Joyce leaves behind a priceless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.

VERHAAR – Joyce Nell VerHaar, age 93, of Grand Rapids went to be with her Lord and Savior on April 9, 2021. She was preceded in death by her parents, Abraham and Helen VerHaar. Joyce is survived by her cousins, second cousins, god-daughters. Joyce was a graduate of University of Michigan School of Music and was a longtime professor of music at Grand Rapids Community College. She was a past president of Piano Teachers Forum of Grand Rapids, charter member of Christ Church and longtime member of LaGrave Ave CRC as well as a world traveler and art collector. The funeral service will take place at 11 AM on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at LaGrave Ave CRC, 107 LaGrave Ave SE with Rev John Steigenga officiating. Visitation will take place for one hour prior to the service. Contributions in her memory may be made to LaGrave Ave CRC or St. Cecelia Music Society. Please visitwww.heritagelifestory.com to read her life story, submit a favorite memory, photo or to sign the online guestbook.