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Julia Ouwerkerk Long exemplified with each moment of her 91 years of life what it means to love, through her love of family, friends, nature, and of life itself. She passed away peacefully on July 18, 2021, surrounded by her children, and she is remembered for her boundless capacity of giving of herself to make life less difficult for others. Julia, known as “Mutti” to her children and grandchildren, was an exceptional mother and grandmother, an excellent baker (especially of pies), a prolific artist, and an avid birdwatcher. She was simultaneously timelessly elegant and fun, driving her top-down convertible to visit her family all over the country or Lake Michigan well into her later years.

Julia was born Julia Ann Ouwerkerk on August 18, 1929, in Muskegon, Michigan, the eighth in a family of nine, to Nicholas and Wilhelmina Maria Pfeifer Ouwerkerk, who came to the United States in the early 1900s from the Netherlands. Growing up in such a large family, each child had a specific job, and thus developed Julia’s life-long skill and love of baking. She was married at the age of 20 to Roy C. Long, who passed away in 1977, and with him, had four beautiful children: David, Darcy, Nathan, and Amy.

Julia taught and shared with her children and grandchildren a love of nature- flowers, birds, hikes in the woods- and she enjoyed capturing some of that beauty in watercolor. She was especially fond of Lake Michigan, where she had a little cottage at South Haven which she shared with family and friends and enjoyed long walks on the beach collecting sea glass and admiring the gorgeous sunsets. Julia worked as a realtor and spent many years volunteering at the Welcome Home for the Blind, Meijer Gardens, and Second Congregational Church, where she was a long-time member. Following the death of her husband, she was graced with the companionship of her special friend, Mr. Stan Benford, who became a part of the family. She touched many lives with her quiet strength wherever she saw a need.

Julia was preceded in death by her seven sisters and one brother: Ruth, Hannah, Sophia, Lydia, Mary (Mae), Cornelia (Corrie), John, as well as her husband, Roy C. Long, and son, David Long.

She is survived by one sister, Joan Nedeau of Muskegon, MI, and three children: Nathan (Brenda) Long of Grand Rapids, MI; Darcy (Fred) Scott, of Jacksonville, FL, and Amy (Eric) Peper of Cudjoe Key, FL. She is survived by eight precious grandchildren, who consider themselves the luckiest grandchildren on earth: Mark (Flynn) Scott, Peter Scott, Caitlin (Bob) Ellis, Dr. Robert (Amy) Long, Kathy (Justin) Menno, Michelle (Tyler) Lloyd, Travis (Shana) Peper, and Dr. Katharine (Keegan) McCauley. The joy of her later years was her ten beautiful great-grandchildren: Rosie, Julia, and Patrick Menno, Lucas Long, Mary-Grace Deus, Emily and Margaret Scott, Will and Camden Ellis, and Michael Peper.

It was her wish that we celebrate her life and not mourn her death. A memorial service will be held at Second Congregational Church (525 Cheshire Drive NE, Grand Rapids, MI), on Friday, July 23, at 11 am, with a reception to follow.

Charitable donations may be made in her honor to the charity of your choice or the Billy Graham Association. From Julia, “Goodbye, knowing we will meet again in God’s beautiful heaven!”

To send a message of sympathy to the family, sign Julia’s online guest book, or to share a favorite memory, please visit:

Cremation arrangements are entrusted to Michigan Cremation & Funeral Care, Grand Rapids, 616-452-3006.


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2 Condolences

  1. Debbie Swanson on July 21, 2021 at 9:33 am

    One of the best things we love about our Riverside Gardens neighborhood is friendly neighbors. Julie was the first neighbor we met. She gave us good advice about gardening, and was just an interesting person to spend time with. She was generous and kind. Every time I pick raspberries, I think of Julie. God’s beautiful heaven is a bit more beautiful. Our thoughts go out to Julie’s family at this time. Peace be with you, Debbie & Drew

  2. Paige Hardibg-Harris on July 22, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    So very saddened to hear of Julia’s passing. She was loved by many. I loved our talks together at Singing Sands. I’m so sorry I can’t attend her celebration of Life but you all will be in my thoughts and prayers. With love, Paige Hardibg-Harris

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