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Mrs. Austra Rinkuss, age 71, of Grand Rapids, was taken from us unexpectedly August 24, 2010 at Metro Health Hospital, Wyoming. The daughter of Karlis and Austra (Klive) Bekmanis, she was born October 8, 1938 in Riga, Latvija. She will be lovingly remembered by John, her husband of 27 years; her godson, sister and husband, brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, as well as a cousin and aunt in Latvija. Austra was preceded in death by both parents, step father, brother, mother and father-in-law and aunts.

After World War II, she emigrated with her family to Richland, Michigan where she graduated from Richland High School. She moved to Grand Rapids in 1957 to attend GRJC, worked at Wurzburg’s and then with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company’s Grand Rapids branch office as administrative assistant and office manager for 32 years until her retirement. Most recently she worked at Courtesy Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep.

Her love for opera began at an early age, when she recalled how her mother often took her to Riga’s Opera House. She was an active member of Opera Affiliates, Friends Of The Opera and the Women’s City Club. Opera Board president Mary Ellen Sullivan said this about Austra: “She was the beautiful lady who greeted everyone at all pre-opera dinners, who was there to welcome the principals at the pre-production parties, and who was always willing to lend a hand. Her warm and friendly smile brightened our lives in countless ways.

B.A. Stanley once described a person “whose life was an inspiration, and whose memory, a benediction.” That was Austra Rinkuss’ life, and that is how she will be remembered.”

A Celebration of Austra’s Life will be held Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 4:30 p.m. at the University Club, 111 Lyon St., NW, Grand Rapids. Memorial contributions may be made honoring Austra to Crash’s Landing, Humane Society of Kent Co., Women’s City Club or Opera Grand Rapids. [Tu un es vienmer, Jano]


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