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.
Westview Christian Reformed Church
2929 Leonard St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Deeply committed to her family, Karen Bouman’s life will be remembered as both loving and selfless. Born with an infectious personality, she was always one to look on the bright side of life, to think forward instead of back, to make everyone she met feel special. With good organizational skills, a desire to serve others, a sharp sense of humor and a taste for adventure, Karen lived her life to the fullest. She leaves behind a rich collection of wonderful memories for her many special friends and family.
Karen’s story begins in the year 1937. Back then Americans felt a renewed faith in the economy after a tough period in the nation’s history. Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated to his second term in office and Amelia Earhart attempted a flight around the world. Born on March 15th, Gerritt and Irene (Goudzwaard) Buist adopted Karen Jane days later bringing great joy into their lives!
Growing up on the west side of Grand Rapids in a home on the corner of Leonard and Parkhurst, Karen was raised as an only child. Faith was very important to her parents and as a family, they were active members of Broadway Christian Reformed Church. Despite her unfulfilled dreams of having brothers and sisters or owning a horse, Karen looked back on her childhood with fond memories of her loving parents. She ran with friends from the neighborhood during an era where children entertained themselves outdoors for hours on end, returning in time for dinner. She liked reading and sometimes read books in bed at night with a flashlight. Her family rented a cottage in Grand Haven each summer, creating a lifetime of beach memories. Karen attended West Side Christian School where she learned to play the oboe; later she switched to the clarinet so she could be in the marching band. Her working life began with cleaning the neighbor’s house for 50 cents, and then expanded to babysitting. She volunteered at Butterworth Hospital as a “Horizon Girl” and later worked at St. Mary’s where she enjoyed giving direct care to patients and learned to do “hospital corners” with unfitted sheets.
Not to be forgotten was the meeting of her high school sweetheart, Bill Bouman. Having last names that both began with the letter B often meant the two of them sat near one another in classes at Grand Rapids Christian High. When Bill broke his ankle and was on crutches, she was sweet enough to carry his books for him from class to class. The two began dating and soon began planning their future together. They exchanged vows on January 29, 1958 at the Fountain Street Church Chapel. The happy couple enjoyed a short honeymoon in Chicago before returning back home, Bill to his studies at Calvin College and Karen to her job at Travelers Insurance company. Well-liked by her fellow employees and employer alike, she had no trouble landing a secretarial position at the university hospital in Ann Arbor where she worked and Bill attended medical school. For four years they lived in a studio apartment, eating out once a week. They returned home to Grand Rapids for about a year and then did a two-year stint in Gallup, New Mexico, where Karen mentored a small group of Native American girls. Settling back in Ann Arbor for Bill to study internal medicine and nephrology, they welcomed their firstborn daughter, Bonnie. A few years later, they moved back to Grand Rapids, where the family was complete when their son, Tom, arrived!
In Grand Rapids they purchased a house on Leonard Street just 1.5 miles west of Karen’s childhood home, and attended the same church, which had become Westview Christian Reformed Church. Never one to remain idle, Karen balanced raising her children along with devoting much of her time to church activities. Over the years she served as manager of the nursery, a counselor of the Girls Club, a member of the Outreach and Mission committees, coordinator of the Greeter program, and a VBS volunteer. She also helped support refugee families from Vietnam, Sudan and Burma, coordinated the visitation of shut-ins, and tidied the sanctuary pews each week. Karen had a real knack for managing the family household ensuring that everything had its place in addition to giving the very best attention to detail of her children’s busy schedules. As a family, they enjoyed many years of camping together, working their way up from tents to motorhomes. Many of their fondest memories were spent along the shores of Lake Michigan where she enjoyed so much of her childhood. During school vacations they ventured farther afield, with Karen and Bill taking turns driving all night to go out west or to Florida.
Not too surprising from her love of travel was the pursuit of becoming a travel agent. Once Tom was old enough for her to return to the world of work she learned the valuable skills of planning trips during her work as an agent. Although it was only for a couple years, she drew on these skills to help her visit all fifty states and toured many countries as well. Working tirelessly on the travel plans herself, she found great satisfaction in finding the best bargains on their timeshare investments! Her passion for travel and adventure was handed down to her children and grandchildren who took her advice and example when planning their own vacations.
In addition to traveling, Karen also enjoyed many years of bowling, golf, cross-country skiing, and the occasional trip to the casino. She learned to downhill ski at 36, joined the Silver Streakers Ski Club where she made many new friends, and skied up until her 80th birthday. Retiring at the age of 65 from Kennedy Wirthlin Marketing and St. Mary’s, she and Bill thrived on their many special interests. There was never a dull moment as she was always on the go with a suitcase packed and ready! yet she found the most happiness from investing in relationships, especially her family and fellow church members.
As much as she relished in her role as a mother, Karen absolutely loved being a grandmother. Several times a year, they traveled to one of her favorite destinations, Arizona, to visit Tom, Priscilla, and granddaughters. In between visits, she cherished the notes she received from them in email. Karen was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2019. During her treatment she continued to plan trips, and continued with plans to move out to Tucson. The family cared for her as her health declined. Sadly she is gone, yet her love remains a bright light in the hearts of all those who knew and loved her. May her gentle and caring ways as well as her passion for life live on in their memories forever.
Karen Jane Bouman, age 82, went to be with her Lord on January 22, 2020. She was preceded in death by her parents, Gerritt I. Buist and Irene (Goudzwaard) Buist, and her birth mother, Nellie J. Van Grouw. She is survived by her high school sweetheart and husband of sixty-one years, William (Bill) G. Bouman. She will also be mourned by her daughter, Bonnie Bouman and son-in-law Marven Krug; her son, Tom Bouman and daughter-in-law, Priscilla Bouman; five granddaughters, Jenna (16), Krista (13), Haley (7), Zoe (4), and Sadie Jane (4 months); sister-in-law Coral Bouman and nephews and nieces; cousins; and many friends. Visitors are welcome to meet the family from 6-8 PM on Monday, February 3, 2020, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive. The funeral service will take place at 11 AM on Tuesday, February 4, 2020, at Westview CRC, 2929 Leonard Street NW, with visitation one hour before. In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory may be made to Westview Christian Reformed Church. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to submit a favorite memory, photo, or to sign the guestbook online.