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Life Story / Obituary
Marilyn Hanenburg was a beautiful person to know and to love. An exceptional wife, mother, and grandmother, she brought great joy to the hearts of the ones she loved. Marilyn was known for her genuine hospitality where she treated each and every person she met with kindness. Deeply missed, she will forever be known for her optimistic outlook on life and her compassion for all people.
Her story began in 1945. Just a few weeks after WWII ended, James and Mary (Bouterse) Balk welcomed their newborn daughter, Marilyn Kay, into their home on October 30, 1945, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Born the second oldest of four children, her birth was a sign of hope and promise to the Balk family.
Growing up on Holmdene Boulevard NE, Marilyn lived a typical childhood of the times. Her family were active members of Mayfair Christian Reformed Church and she and her siblings attended Mayfield Christian School. They made many memories camping together over the years enjoying Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula especially the area of the largest inland lake, Lake Gogebic. As a young adolescent, Marilyn was never short on friends and enjoyed being social during her years at Grand Rapids Christian High School. She graduated with the Class of 1963 and was ready to make her way in the world.
Before she knew it, she met the man of her dreams, Robert Hanenburg while the two of them were on a double date with the opposite person. Noticing they shared many commonalities and not able to take their eyes off one another, they knew from that evening they had created a spark! A few months later after seeing one another around town, they began dating one another and the rest was history! Marilyn and Bob joined in marriage on February 9, 1968 at her home church and set off on their romantic Florida honeymoon in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale.
The newlyweds settled into their home on Pine Street NW and made plans to start a family of their own. Bob was working as a cement contractor at the time and Marilyn held a position at Michigan Tag. The same year they welcomed home their first son, Mark, they also started Environmental Door Company right out of their basement. Expanding both their business as well as their family, they relocated to 10th Avenue NW.
While raising their family, Bob did install and service for the company while Marilyn stayed up after the kids were settled to work on the bookkeeping. Their hard work afforded them many camping trips relatively close to home. They spent time in Grand Haven, Holland, Muskegon, and Ludington starting out in their popup camper before moving on to a motorhome. On many of these trips, Marilyn and kids would stay out at the site, while Bob would commute back and forth to work. Many of these trips included time with their special camping families; the Van Egmonds, Westhouses, Overbeeks, Ludwicks, Van Veens, and Hoekemas. A memorable and long lasting tradition was the infamous funnel trick that Marilyn fell victim to one year and then passed it down for many years thereafter. Much later they enjoyed many years making memories at their cottage on Big Star Lake. Any time Marilyn was around water and the sun, she was content.
In addition to her hard work raising her children and supporting the family business, Marilyn held many special pastimes. She enjoyed bowling on a league at the GV Lanes or at Lincoln CC. A regular walker, she also took advantage of the exercise classes at the Lincoln CC. Marilyn was proud to remain an active member at Westview Church and enjoyed the Heart to Heart Bible study, Dinner Circle, as well as small group. She enjoyed sharing her delicious casseroles and souper chicken dish with many gatherings! A natural listener and compassionate person, Marilyn also enjoyed her time serving as a Calvinette Counselor at Westview. Generous with her time and resources, she spent many years volunteering at the NW Food pantry as well.
When it came time for her own relaxation and enjoyment over the years, she liked to knit and crochet as well as spend time in her beautiful flower gardens. An avid reader, Marilyn always had a romance novel or a book of historical fiction within her reach. Shopping became a favorite pastime as well with trips to nearby outlets or weekend getaways in the windy city of Chicago. She was thrilled to still be in touch with a group from her high school years that met regularly. A lover of theater and music, she and Bob were season ticket holders for performances of both the Grand Rapids Symphony and the Civic Theatre.
By 1998, they moved to Marne Estates where they made many close friends. They continued their love of travel by visiting Mexico, Hawaii, New Zealand, and many parts of Europe including a few memorable cruises over the years. While visiting Mackinac in 2014, she revealed early signs of her impending illness when she was unable to bicycle without losing her balance. As a result of continued issues, Marilyn was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Parkinson’s disease known as Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) in 2016.
Full of energy and her usual spunk, Marilyn remained active as a grandmother and enjoyed hosting her grandkids over for movies and overnight stays. They enjoyed sharing her sweet tooth cravings and sampling her treats! Tough as well as strong-willed, she lived her life with grace and leaned on her faith to support her during her illness. Recently, she moved to Green Acres in Standale yet desperately missed her home. Marilyn and her family chose Hospice care when her health began to decline so that she could return home to be surrounded by her loving family during her final weeks. Marilyn will surely be missed by her many special friends and loved ones. She modeled a life well lived where she gave freely so much of herself to the family she so loved.
HANENBURG – Marilyn Kay Hanenburg age 74, of Marne, went to be with her Lord and Savior on July 25, 2020 surrounded by her family. She was preceded in death by her sisters-in-law, Betty Balk and Ruthann Roche and brothers-in-law, James Emerson and Lawrence Hanenburg. Marilyn is survived by her loving husband of 52 years, Robert Hanenburg; children, Mark (Valerie) Hanenburg, Michelle (Jeff) Barbrick and Robert (Sara) Hanenburg Jr; grandchildren, Jordan, Lauren, Peyton, Alyssa, Jacob and Bennett; sisters and brothers-in-law, James Balk, Tom (Michelle) Balk, Sue (LeRoy) Heersink, Marjorie Emerson, Joann Hanenburg, Edward (Nancy) Hanenburg, Erwin (Dawn) Hanenburg and Bob Roche; and several nieces, nephews and cousins. A special thank you to Marilyn’s best friend, Betsy Ludwick; staff at Green Acres Standale; at home caregivers, Beth and Raylynn; and Mandy from Faith Hospice; for all the help and support shown to Marilyn and her family. The funeral service will be held at 11 AM on Wednesday July 29, 2020 at Westview Christian Reformed Church, 2929 Leonard St NW. Visitation will be held at the church from 5-8 PM on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Masks and social distancing are required. Marilyn was the co-founder of Environmental Door Company 50 years ago and a longtime member of Westview Christian Reformed Church. Contributions in her memory may be made to the Christian School of your choice. Please visit heritagelifestory.com to read Marilyn’s life story, submit a favorite memory, photo or to sign the guestbook online.