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.
Parkinson’s Association of West Michigan
7311 Crystal View Drive SE
Caledonia, MI 49316
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Gentle, kind, and loving, Phyllis was a testimony of God's faithfulness. She depended on God and was a living example of Christ for her whole family. Her heart was a safe place for all, even those who were tough to love. With great care and patience, Phyllis could easily teach others and was always quick to offer her support. She was never interested in accolades, but rather, her joy came in knowing she was quietly and humbly providing for those she loved. She enjoyed the company of a few good friends like Barbara, her sister Karen, and friends from church and was a really good sister. She took care of her parents and in-laws without question or complaint and cherished her children and grandchildren. Compassionate and loyal, Phyllis was an inspiration to all who were blessed to know her.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, 1936 gave birth to many celebrated firsts. While the nation continued to reel in the heartache of the times, Americans found much hope in The Rural Electrification Act, the beginnings of equalizing opportunities of urban and rural communities, and Jesse Owen's four Olympic gold medals. Mickey Mouse, Margaret Mitchell's epic novel, Gone With The Wind, Lee Falk's comic strip, The Phantom, and the game of Monopoly, afforded much entertainment across the country. Locally, Martin and Kathryn Overbeek (Versluis) Bouwman held much hope for the future as they celebrated the birth of their daughter Phyllis on March 3.
Growing up in the Grand Rapids area during the 30s and 40s, Phyllis' early years were filled with activity. Phyllis was the oldest child and a terrific big sister. Her sister Karen was just two years younger. Tragically, the family suffered the loss of an infant, Marvin Dale, who lived only two days after his birth in 1940. Nine years later, their lives where mixed with joy and pain when they welcomed Marvin Lynn but lost his twin brother at birth. The family's home Mack Ave was near the Fulton Street farm market. Phyllis shopped for her mum at Van's bakery, the grocery store, and the drug store and dime store. A neighborhood of families, Phyllis had a lot of fun playing with neighborhood kids. Sometimes they went to the drug store soda counter on the corner of Diamond and Fulton for ice cream. Other times they just hung out. While Phyllis' father worked for many years at Keeler Brass and as a truck driver Dexter Lock, her mother was a homemaker who taught Phyllis many life skills, like the fine art of baking cookies.
From the start, Phyllis and Karen were one another's best friends, a bond that would last their lifetimes. They shared daily chores and on weekends when the chores were done they always went to the Saturday afternoon movies. Phyllis would take Marvin to the ten-cent movies on Saturday night and buy him popcorn. The family enjoyed fishing and vacations to the lake, picnics at Johnson Park, summer vacations at lake cottages north of the city, and ice skating at Mulick Park. Every weekend they visited Grandma Versluis for chocolate cake. This is where Easter was always celebrated too. She had an uncle (uncle Gordon Versluis) that wasn't too much older than her. Long-time members of Dennis Ave Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Christmas was a time when the family gathered at the home on Mack Ave. It was also a tradition to go downtown to see the Christmas lights and decorations.
Phyllis attended local public schools and enjoyed the many friendships she made. While in high school, she served as club treasurer and enjoyed going out with her lifelong friend, Barbara Bergsma. She and Barbara especially enjoyed riding in her pink convertible Chevy and spending days at the beach at Barbara's family's cottage in Grand Haven.
After graduating from Central High School with the class of 1954, Phyllis worked for Evan's Printing in Grand Rapids near the river, designing layouts in the advertisement department. It was while working for the print company that Phyllis met her husband, Theodore "Ted" Markus, who was working as a delivery truck driver at the time. Though uncertain about his career at this point, Ted took one look at Phyllis in her red dress and was instantly smitten by her quiet beauty. With great resolve, he asked her on a date, and they were soon enjoying one another's company on the beach in Grand Haven.
The young couple dated for a time, corresponding by letter after Ted joined the Air Force in 1957. He served for a time in Korea and then was sent back stateside. Ted asked Phyllis to marry him while watching Wyatt Erp on the television together. He later asked her again in the closing of a letter, writing, "you will always be my sweetheart, and I hope that you will someday be my wife." Their dreams of sharing the future came true when they married, while Ted was home on leave, on September 19, 1958, at Mayfair Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
After honeymooning at Mackinac Island and in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, for a short time, while Ted was away with the Air Force, Phyllis lived at home with her parents. In time the couple settled in an apartment on Dennis Ave. in Grand Rapids, where it was sweltering hot in the summer.
In 1963, the happy couple welcomed their first child, Scott, to their family. Two years later, their family was complete when daughter Jill was born. Phyllis relished motherhood and dedicated herself to creating a loving and supportive home for her family. To help make ends meet, she worked many different jobs, including assembling Amway hosiery catalogs, babysitting children, and as a poll worker. Phyllis was a patient parent who rarely got angry and was a quiet disciplinarian. She never yelled or ridiculed. She never expected more out of her children than was possible and encouraged them in every possible way. She listened with compassion and always had a hug ready.
While Phyllis joked that her favorite food was any food she didn't have to prepare herself, she was a fine cook. She made a lot of delicious traditional foods, including pot roast on Sundays and baked chicken or grilled barbecue chicken in the summer. She also grew raspberries which she served with ice cream. Phyllis also enjoyed the special companionship of many dogs over the years. She fondly kept a photo of Teddy, and Pierre was the family's pet for 18 years.
After their children were born, Phyllis and Ted took many memorable vacations. Before marriage, Phyllis had never left the state of Michigan. With Ted in the lead, the family explored their home state and traveled to visit family throughout the country. Trips were made to Niagara Falls, Canada, Boston, Wisconsin, Florida, Colorado, Texas, and Arizona.
Even though traveling was more Ted's love than Phyllis', it was a treat to visit natural wonders and historical sites together. In retirement, they were able to travel to Hawaii, Alaska, Florida, South Dakota, and even Europe. Along with their daughter, Jill, the visited the town the Markus family was from in the Netherlands and parts of Germany.
The Markus home was filled with tradition, especially during the holidays. Phyllis hosted Thanksgiving, and her sister Karen hosted Christmas. Christmas was Phyllis' favorite time of year. She loved the traditions of cutting down a real tree and decorating it with treasured ornaments. Though Phyllis didn't cherish a lot of material things, she had a Chinese doll that she won as a child and had special mementos from her parents. Her mother's silverware and tableware and the nail file her father made were some of her favorite things. She also enjoyed wearing the necklaces, rings, and bracelets Ted gave her. She enjoyed listening to Ted's records, especially Christmas music sung by Perry Como and Bing Crosby. Hank Williams, The Gaithers, musical soundtracks, and Christian music were favorites too.
In her quiet time, Phyllis enjoyed needlework and reading. Jan Karon was one of her favorite authors. She also loved watching sports. She cheered on the Detroit Lions and Tigers, the University of Michigan football, and even watched NASCAR. She liked going out to eat, especially after she no longer cooked for her kids. She enjoyed Russ', for pigs in the blanket and onion rings; Brann's, for steak and shrimp; Vitales', for pizza; and lunch downtown once a week with Jill at the Pantlind hotel café' or Herpolsheimer's. She also liked Mexican and Chinese food and fried chicken was a long favorite. Birthdays were always spent at Bill Knapps where there was always chocolate cake too!
An active member of Creston Christian Reformed Church for at least 63 years, Phyllis attended women's Bible study and tirelessly volunteered her time and talents for numerous organizations. She raised funds for the Christian Education Fund and organized concessions for Northern Little League. She served as a City of Grand Rapids poll worker and was always ready to help by providing a meal for people in need. Never one to need the spotlight, she quietly slipped some money to someone who needed it or paid a bill for someone in need.
Growing up during a time of great need, she understood hard work and sacrifice. Never pretentious, she didn't need a lot of physical comforts. Her joy was her family. She kept her house clean, insisting that "you can be poor, but you don't have to be dirty." She was a diligent saver and could work miracles with little. She created Christmas savings clubs for her and her family, put her kids through school, and helped her grandkids with college. She welcomed others and was always happy to see her nieces and nephews. Fiercely proud of her kids and grandkids, Phyllis wanted to see them happy and healthy. She worried for others' good and kept them in her prayers. Her loving generosity was most evident in the way she so selflessly cared for her parents, siblings, and her in-laws. Phyllis proved a powerful role model of how to live a faith-centered and whole-hearted life.
Without a doubt, life may seem far less certain in the absence of Phyllis' steadfast love and light but the qualities that Phyllis exhibited as a dependable friend and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, will long live in the hearts of those she so dearly loved.
Mrs. Phyllis Kay Markus [Bouwman], age 85, of Grand Rapids, went to her heavenly home on January 17, 2022, after a long struggle with Parkinson's Disease. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 48 years, Theodore "Ted" Markus, in 2006 and her sister, Karen Suchodolski. Phyllis is survived by her two children, Scott (Susan) Markus and Jill (Dirk) Feikema; grandchildren Megan and Mindy Markus, Andrew and Emily Feikema; brother Marvin (Sheila) Bouwman and many nieces and nephews. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 22, 2022, at 11:00 AM with visitation one hour prior to service at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt Shawmut Chapel, (2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504). Guests or encouraged to wear an appropriate facial mask and observe social distancing. Phyllis will be laid to rest next to Ted at Fairplains Cemetery. For those who wish, please direct memorial contributions to the Parkinson's Association of West Michigan, parkinsonswm.org. To read more about Phyllis, view her funeral service by live-stream, sign the online book or share a favorite photo or memory, please visit www.heritagelifestory.com