Monday, February 28, 2022
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EST
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Rosary at 7:30 PM
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.
Lacks Cancer and Hematology Center
250 Cherry St SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
St Mary's Church Our Legacy Forward
Life Story / Obituary
Gentle, loving, and kind, Sharon Jeanne Zahm lived a life rich in faith and family. Sharon possessed an adventurous, indomitable spirit that inspired her to welcome each day as a gift and every person as a friend. She embodied the principles of her faith and dedicated herself to living a life of service. Sharon was resourceful and fearless. She accepted life on life's terms and radiated hope and gratitude. A devoted sister, wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, and great grandmother, Sharon was an inspiration to all who were blessed to know her.
Despite the gloom of the Great Depression, hope still beat strong in the hearts of many. With a natural drive not just to endure but to thrive in the face of uncertainty, the nation continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was there more hope for the future than in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as John and Neoma (Mark) Terpstra welcomed their daughter Sharon into their hearts and home on December 4, 1938.
Fondly known as "Lamby Pie" by her father, Sharon was the third born of the six Terpstra kids. With only twelve years separating the oldest and youngest, the children grew up in a busy home on Fruit Ridge NW. As their mother was absent for most of their early years, the six siblings watched out for one another while their father was at work and they grew to be very close. Sharon attended West Side Christian School through seventh grade and then went to Berlin High School.
While in high school, Sharon enjoyed an active social life and was well-liked by her peers. She enjoyed participating on the cheerleading team, performing in the school play, and singing in the school choir. Singing was a special passion of hers that began when she was a young child and would sing with her sister on the Children’s Bible Hour radio program.
She and her classmate, James Zahm, dated in high school and soon set their hearts on sharing the future. They married in a small ceremony in Grand Rapids on March 23, 1957, and made their first home on the lower west side. Eventually they moved into the house they would share for the next forty years on Seventh St. NW. Upon welcoming children to their family, Sharon became a dedicated homemaker, ensuring her children grew up with the security of her unwavering love and support. While Jim worked in heating and cooling, Sharon tended to their eight children. Karla, Cathie, Fred, Doug, Joe, John, Tom, and Tim were her heart's delight.
Sharon and Jim chose to live on the main floor of their two-story home so that they could rent out the upstairs apartment for extra income. To make room for everyone on the lower level, which only had two bedrooms and one bathroom, they converted their main floor living room into a bunkhouse for their six boys. After twelve years, they stopped renting out their extra space and moved the kids upstairs.
The family attended St. Mary's Catholic Church, where they were expected to sit without squirming in the front row for Sunday morning mass. The kids attended grade school at St. Mary's Catholic School next door. "Shar" was a very active church member. She sang in the choir and started cantoring for mass after conquering her fear of performing in public. She figured if she could raise eight kids then she could accomplish anything. She was always quick to offer her help with bingo, baking for bake sales, and school boosters. Lots of time was spent with their extended families. After church on Sundays, the family typically spent time at Jim's parents helping out on their farm. During the summer, if the kids were really good, they stopped at Dairy Queen on the way home. On Sunday nights, Sharon made pizza, and they watched Wild Kingdom, the Sunday night Disney movie, and The Ed Sullivan Show. Saturday nights were burger nights, served with homemade fries and shakes. Karla and Cathie were often put in charge of the boys while Sharon and Jim joined the neighbors for cribbage or bonfires.
Once the children were all in school, Sharon began working outside the home. She first worked at Burger King, where John, Tom, and Tim would eagerly wait for her to return home hoping she would bring home Whoppers or at least a chocolate shake. She later worked in the mailroom at Michigan Bulb and as a clerk for a local doctor's office. Sharon was a great planner and once saved up for a new car, a Chevy Chevette, and went and purchased it without getting any input from Jim. Family life was filled with adventure, including a time when Fred (age 5), Doug (age 3), and Joe (only 2), loaded the 20-gauge shotgun, held it up, and fired it. The bullet tore through a wall in the house, caromed off the neighbor’s sidewalk, and went through a car window before finally lodging in the car roof. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The police were notified, Jim and Sharon were astonished and mortified, and an article was written up in the local paper.
A woman who found joy in the simple things, Sharon enjoyed baking, sewing, bowling, swimming, playing softball, and golfing. Jim's parents owned Little Acres golf course near Marne, and Sharon played there and on several other golf leagues over the course of her life. She enjoyed attending West Catholic High School football games long after her children graduated from the school—unless of course one of her grandkids had another event that night. She also enjoyed swimming at the YMCA several times a week, shopping, and taking bus trips to the casino and Tiger games. She even welcomed the opportunity to go white-water rafting late in life, although she found it was not to her liking.
In 1990, Sharon had a kidney removed due to cancer. Sadly, Jim was diagnosed with cancer and died in 1999. Despite the hardships she faced, Sharon maintained her sense of adventure and gratitude for life. As her family grew to welcome grandchildren, she joyfully embraced her new role as grandmother. Once the grandchildren were old enough, she relished sharing her love of rollercoasters with them. For many years, they made a tradition of spending a day at Michigan’s Adventure, riding the rides, and enjoying one another's company. Sharon carefully packed a picnic lunch that included ground bologna, egg salad sandwiches, and her blonde brownies. When great grandchildren began to arrive, Sharon beamed with joy and spoiled them rotten. She also treated her two step-grandchildren and eight step-great-grandchildren as her own and enjoyed doting on them.
Sharon and her siblings remained close their entire lives. After Jim died, she spent even more time with her siblings and their spouses. Many treasured memories were made at her sister Nan’s cottage in Paradise, Michigan. She also enjoyed driving down to Florida with three-months-worth of groceries and staying at Nettles Island with her sister Shirley. She continued this tradition after Shirl passed away. She would leave after Christmas and each year her stay lasted slightly longer than the year before. Her children were a little jealous that she had a supportive new family down at Nettles but were very thankful for how that community welcomed her and watched out for her.
In October of 2020, Sharon broke her leg. During her hospital exam, it was discovered that she had cancer again. For a year, she valiantly fought the disease and was declared cancer-free. Unfortunately, in late fall of 2021, the cancer returned. With signature resolve, Sharon set her heart on being home for Christmas and welcoming her newest great-grandson into the world. With much gratitude, she was able to do both!
Without a doubt, the world feels less certain in the absence of Sharon's steadfast love and company. May we find comfort in our many treasured memories and in the honor of carrying her legacy forward. In each moment we confidently meet life's challenges, choose faith over fear, welcome adventure, and enjoy the day with those we love, we celebrate the countless ways Sharon gifted our lives. In this way, we keep her spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired us.
Mrs. Sharon Jeanne (Terpstra) Zahm, age 83, of Grand Rapids, went to be with her Lord and Savior on February 17, 2022. She was preceded in death by her husband, James; siblings, Royce Terpstra, Shirley (Lynn) Holtrop and Nancy (Del) Wiersma; and sister-in-law, Mary Lou Jakubowski. Sharon is survived by her children, Karla (Paul) Skrzycki, Cathie Griffis, Fred Zahm, Doug (Shelly) Zahm, Joe Zahm, John (Amy) Zahm, Tom Zahm and Tim (Julie) Zahm; 15 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her sisters, Jackie O’Mealey and Kathy Hoogewind; sisters-in-law, Dee Terpstra, Anna Mae (Bill) Walters; brother-in-law, Jerry (Linda) Zahm; step-sisters, Ev Ekkens and Judy (Tom) Reiber; step-brothers, Ron (Theresa) Meegan and Gord (Roberta) Antonides; step-sister-in-law, Barb Antonides; and many extended family members. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 AM on Tuesday March 1, 2022, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 425 First St NW Grand Rapids (livestream link on Sharon’s memory page below). Friends are invited to visit with her family on Monday, Feb 28 from 2-4 and 6-8 PM, with a Rosary at 7:30 PM, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Interment in Holy Cross Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory may be made to Lacks Cancer and Hematology Center, St. Mary’s “Our Legacy Forward” fund, or Faith Hospice. A special thank you to Dr. Pettijohn and her staff; Lacks Cancer Urgent Care staff; and Faith Hospice Nurse, Katie, for the loving care shown to Sharon. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to read Sharon’s life story, submit a favorite memory or photo or to sign the guestbook online.