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Life Story / Obituary
Linda Bowald lived a life rich in faith, family, and friends. She had a great sense of humor, was faithful and generous, and she was an inspiration to all who were blessed to know her. She was sure to give her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the honor and glory for it all. Whether greeting a stranger, tending to her friends and family, supporting students, or cheering on her loved ones, Linda embraced each moment as a gift and an opportunity to serve others and more importantly, her Savior. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, teacher, and friend, Linda will long be remembered for her love, encouragement, wit and witness.
1943 marked a time when the war effort in Europe directly impacted all American lives. For George and Ann Laansma, it was a particularly exciting time, however, as they welcomed their daughter, Linda Jean, into their family on October 1 at Hackley Hospital in Muskegon, Michigan. She was an unexpected blessing as they thought they would never be able to conceive a child. She was blessing number two as her brother, Doug, had just been adopted into their family not long before. A little boy and a little girl, two beautiful gifts from God!
The Laansma family moved to their home on Aberdeen in Grand Rapids and Linda attended Aberdeen Elementary School, Riverside Junior High, and Creston High School. Later in life, she enjoyed reminding her family that she was a Creston Polar Bear by singing their fight song whenever driving around the West side. In fact, she enjoyed singing no matter where she was...usually a hymn or a song from The Sound of Music and often boldly with vigor.
Faith was the center of family life in the Laansma home and had been for generations. Her grandfather, Douwe Laansma started Quarry Avenue Baptist Church on the West side of Grand Rapids after immigrating from the Netherlands in the 1800's. Linda’s parents demonstrated what it meant to trust God in all circumstances and to provide for their needs. Linda enjoyed tent camping with her family, reading, attending church events, and playing outside with her many neighborhood friends. They would often get together to play board games and eat Oreo cookies. Linda went on to earn her teaching degree at Western Michigan University hoping to use her gifts to serve others.
In 1963, Linda met Ben Bowald at Cedar Campus, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, Intervarsity Fellowship. The pair began dating and were soon a couple, setting their hearts on building a future together with God at the center. They married in 1965 at Highland Hills Baptist Church (Quarry Avenue Baptist Church) and settled into married life at 2662 Garfield NW. Linda and Ben were delighted to become parents when their son Mark Alan was born in 1967. Daughter Beth Ann was born in 1969, and daughter Joy Lin completed the family in 1972.
A caring and engaged mother, Linda was a devoted homemaker while her children were growing up. Linda’s faith, encouragement, organization, and commitment to her family were the cornerstones of her home. In 1975, the family moved to a newly built house just around the corner at 1212 Glenaire NW. Linda led neighborhood and church Bible studies and directed and taught in church programs such as children's chapel, Pioneer Girls, Vacation Bible School, and AWANA. She also devoted time to Fairview Elementary School as a PTA volunteer. The Bowald family enjoyed traditions such as Saturday lunch at Mr. Burger, Sunday evening malts at the Mol's, weekly burgers at the Phillips, and camping in their Starcraft camper at Hoffmaster and Young State Parks with extended family and friends.
Linda first began formally teaching at Kent Hills Elementary School at the level of 2nd grade before Mark was born. When her children were old enough, she began substitute teaching at NorthPointe Christian Schools (formerly Grand Rapids Baptist Academy) before becoming the librarian. Known for her consistent kindness and support, Linda happily served the students, staff, and community for many years. Always willing to step in and help when needed, she believed in helping and serving others. She enjoyed the fact that her husband, all her children, and her sons and daughter in laws were all teachers or involved in educational service and came from teaching families as well.
After retirement, Linda and Ben moved to their condo. They enjoyed taking yearly Fall color tours up North with other couples. They traveled to Europe to trace their roots and also continued taking camping trips with close family and friends. They went on family vacations to Gulf Shores, AL which resulted in many treasured memories. Linda continued to enjoy sewing, walking and socializing in her neighborhood, and reading...mostly her Bible and historical fiction. She was faithful in ministry at church as librarian, Bible Study Leader, and Cubby teacher. Much to her heart’s delight, once she became a grandmother (nana), Linda relished being very involved with her grands. She loved attending their theater, music, and sporting events and was their greatest fan.
Linda will be remembered for her faithfulness in prayer, love for her family and friends, dedication to Lord, and unconditional kindness. Above all, she would desire that each one reading this would accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord, a free gift, and live a life faithful to Him. She would love to see you again in heaven and celebrate with you for all eternity. As we remember Linda’s beautiful life, may we find comfort in our many treasured memories and fondly think of her each time we sing her favorite song, Great Is Thy Faithfulness or hear her favorite Bible verses, “Be still and know that I am God,” Psalm 46:10, and “...yet will I trust him..." Job 13:15.
Linda Jean Bowald (Laansma) went to be with her Lord and Savior on February 1, 2024, with her husband by her side after a five year battle with dementia. Linda was preceded in death by her parents, George and Ann Laansma, and her brother, Doug Laansma. Linda is survived by her loving husband of 59 years, Ben Bowald, her son, Mark (DoraLee) Bowald, and daughters, Beth (Paul) Zelenka and Joy (Brad) Richards. Linda was grandmother to fifteen and great-grandmother to ten. A service to celebrate Linda’s life will be held on Friday, February 9, 2024, at 11:00 AM, at Highland Hills Baptist Church located at 1415 Northrup Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504. A luncheon will be provided following the service. Visitation will be held on Thursday, February 8, 2024, from 4 – 7 pm at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Alt and Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW, 49504. Gifts in Linda’s memory may be given to Calvary Christian Schools of Fruitport and Highland Hills Baptist Church Missions Fund. To leave a memory or sign the guest book, please visit www.heritagelifestory.com