A recording of the service has been posted under the livestream link.
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.
Edison Christian Health Center Foundation
1000 Edison Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Life Story / Obituary
Feisty, independent, and heart-centered, Yvonne Donna Sharphorn lived her life firmly centered in her Christian faith. Yvonne was a strong leader whose determination, dedication, and attention to detail proved an inspiration for all who knew her. She loved unconditionally and gave without complaint. She met each day as a gift and every challenge with grace. A loving and dedicated wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, coisin, and friend, she will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, the power of hope undulated in the hearts of many. With a natural drive to not just endure but 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 Carl and Fay (Conlan) Nielsen welcomed their daughter Yvonne into their hearts and home on April 2, 1932.
Her parents’ only child, Yvonne was especially cherished. While her father provided for the family through his work as a surgical device fitter at Medical Arts, her mother was a homemaker and elementary school teacher at North Godwin Elementary School. The family lived on National St. NW and later on East Fulton St.
Yvonne attended Sibley Elementary School, Union High School, and Central High School. As a young child, Yvonne had many dolls that she loved playing with. As a teen, she played clarinet in the marching band and loved hanging out with her friends. She enjoyed attending local dances, roller skating at Ramona Gardens in East Grand Rapids, seeing shows at the local movie theater, knitting, and sewing. She also loved going to the beach with her friends but never learned to swim. For a time, she worked as a nanny for the Siegel’s Jewelry Family. She proudly graduated with the class of 1950.
At the age of 16, while skating at Ramona Gardens in East Grand Rapids, Yvonne had the good fortune of meeting Herman Sharphorn, an Army veteran who served in WWII. The young couple dated for the next four years, nurturing the growth of their relationship and love. On June 6, 1952, they exchanged their vows in a marriage ceremony at Wallin Congregational Church. After a three day honeymoon to Traverse City, they later took a three week trip out west.
The newlyweds lived in an upstairs apartment in downtown Grand Rapids for the first ten months of their marriage. During this time, Herman and his father built a new home on 20 acres of his father’s property on Johnson Street. It became the home where Yvonne spent the rest of her life.
Their 56-year union was blessed with three beautiful daughters; Donna, Julie, and Amy were the centers of their lives. While Herman worked in maintenance and refrigeration with the A&P Grocers, Yvonne was a proud homemaker. Yvonne and Herman centered their home on the firm foundation of their Christian faith. As devout members of Walker United Reformed Church, the family was very involved in their church community. Yvonne was a leader for Calvinett’s, a girls club, and she saw to it that all three daughters earned every single merit badge available. She and Herman also attended the couples fellowship groups at church often.
Yvonne relished in her roles as wife and mother. She embraced her responsibilities with dedication, tenacity, and perfectionism. Driven to be her best at anything she took on, her perseverance was unwavering. Once she got her girls involved in 4-H, she spent much time with them doing crafts of all sorts. Yvonne was a great crafter; her macramé, painting, knitting, sewing, and string art was unrivaled. Yvonne became a leader in Kent and Ottawa 4-H, and she and the girls attended every 4-H event in Kent and Ottawa Counties. With signature commitment and passion, Yvonne poured herself into her duties, which quickly became a yearlong project.
The family also enjoyed the good company of several collie dogs over the years, while also raising a beef cow, a goat, and a horse at the homestead. Herm built an oversized camper on the back of an F100 pickup truck, and the family traveled to all parts of the country, taking multiple month-long trips. They also sometimes rented a cottage in Silver Lake and Glenn Arbor, Michigan. It was tradition to stop for milkshakes and collect rocks on their adventures.
Once the girls were grown, at the age of 50, Yvonne began working as the Activities Assistant at the Christian Rest Home. There she planned ministers for Sundays and Wednesday evenings, as well as guests to entertain the residents. She loved the residents and the staff, and they loved her. She loved her job so much she worked at the home for 35 years, retiring at the age of 85.
Without a doubt, Yvonne’s greatest joy was her family. As her daughters blessed her with grandchildren, Yvonne enthusiastically grew into her new role. She cherished every moment spent with her grand kids and always looked forward to their company. An unflappable supporter of each of their endeavors, she never missed a special day or sporting event or graduation. Yvonne hosted Sunday dinners for her family each week and showered her family with gifts on holidays and birthdays. She was undoubtedly QVC’s best shopper!
Herman retired at age 62, and they quickly found themselves enjoying the extra time together. They went antiquing, played cards with his cousins on weekends, attended many Travel Logs at the Civic Auditorium downtown, enjoyed meals at the Cracker Barrel, and took many day trips often visiting family and friends. As Herman began to suffer from dementia, Yvonne met the challenges with loving and steadfast care. When his needs grew, and he required additional help, Yvonne sought the support of the community she’d given so much to, and Herm moved to the Christian Rest Home. There, Yvonne continued to lovingly care for him until he died in 2008.
Despite the loss of her beloved husband, life went on for Yvonne. Leaning into her faith and family, she met each day with determination, love, and grace. She remained active, spending time with her family, friends, and working at the Christian Rest home. She remained healthy and experienced very few health issues until recently. In the past few weeks, she suffered a UTI and dehydration. Ten days ago, she was admitted to Blodgett Hospital, where she passed away on Tuesday, April 21.
It is difficult to imagine life in the absence of Yvonne's tenacity and good love. Her unwavering faith assures us that she has been reunited with Herman and is enjoying the splendors of Heaven. May we find comfort in carrying her beautiful legacy forward. With each challenge we faithfully meet, Hallmark Chanel movie we watch, cookies and candy we buy for our loved one, and Glenn Miller song we sing, we celebrate the many ways Yvonne gifted us. In this way, we keep her spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired us.
Yvonne Donna Sharphorn (Nielsen), aged 88 of Grand Rapids, went to be with her Lord and Savior on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. She was preceded in death by her husband of 56 years, Herman Sharphorn, and her daughter Julie Andrews. She is survived by her daughters and sons-in-law, Donna and Daniel Hoekzema, Amy and Kevin Keen; son-in-law, Kurt Andrews; her grandchildren, Joshua Hoekzema, Jacob (Katie) Hoekzema, Matthew (Carrie) Andrews, Melissa Andrews, Amber (Matt) Boetsma, Amanda Keen; great-grandson, Kepler Andrews; several beloved cousins and many, many friends.
Because of the coronavirus, a private family service will be held on Friday at the funeral home. You can “Live Stream” the service or watch it later from her web page. A public celebration of her life will be held at a later time. Contributions may be made to the Edison Christian Health Center Foundation. You are all encouraged to visit her web page to read more about Yvonne’s life, to sign her guest book, to leave your own memory of her at her web page at www.heritagelifestory.com