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Wilbur Hofstra, 83, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was received home by Jesus on November 18, 2020.  Born to Andrew and Trienje (Wybenga) Hofstra on January 25th, 1937, in Beetgum, Netherlands; he was the third of five children including: Maynard, Tina, Harry and Lucy. His family migrated to the United States aboard the Queen Elizabeth in 1950. He graduated 9th grade at Baxter School after which his family needed him to work. He was always the hardest worker.


            His working life included being a dishwasher for Bierling’s Bakery, a night baker, a day baker, and eventually co-owner with Hank Mulder.  Selling his half, he became Floor Manager for Cream Curls Bakery in Hudsonville from which he retired in 2002.


            At the age of 21, Wilbur married his only love, Johanna Melles on Dec 5th, 1958 in Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church, where they raised their five children in the faith.  They also sacrificed to put their children through Christian schools.


            Upon retiring, he and Johanna moved from Jenison to Bellaire, Michigan, where he fulfilled his dream of owning horses with land to ride on.  The horses he owned though the years ( Bless, Alicia, Coco, Princess and King) were all a part of the family.  Along with horseback riding, he taught his children, their friends, relatives, and their children, to water-ski, play chess, tennis, soccer, biking, cross-country skiing and just about anything that was active.  He would often say, “Turn that TV off and get outdoors! It’s a sin to be inside on a nice day like this!”  And if you didn’t fall skiing he’d say, “Then you weren’t trying hard enough.”


            Alzheimer’s resulted in his having to leave Bellaire and his life with horses behind, returning to Grand Rapids, and eventually residing at The Woods at Samaritas.  Some may claim that COVID-19 took him, but his family would argue that it was the isolation from visit restrictions and from the dementia.  Still our faith calls us to remember that not a hair can fall from our heads without the will of our Father in Heaven (Mt 10; Lk 21), and so ultimately it was God who made good on His promise to take Wilbur home to the place He’s been preparing for him (John 14).


   Wilbur is preceded in death by his parents; his brother and sister-in-law, Maynard and Anne; his sister, Tina Diedering, and sister-in-law, Shirley Hofstra. He is survived by his wife, Johannah; brother-in-law Henry Diedering, brother Harry, sister and brother-in-law, Lucy and Chris Vanlonkuzyn.  Children: Edward & Ella, Laurie & Lee, Henry & Mary, Mark & Kimberly, Amy & Bob; 21 grandchildren: LaRaine (Caleb)Thurston, Jayne (Shannon) Purkey, Heather (Connor) Brink, Luke Hofstra, Rene Macapagal, Caesar Macapagal, Rina Macapagal, Jacob Macapagal; Alison (Brian) Murphy, Hayley (Ryan) Van Heck, Maddie Scott; Christopher (Heidi) Hofstra, Joshua Hofstra, Katie Hofstra, Alisha (Barry) DeYoung, Pieter Hofstra, Hannah (Austin) Ogrin, Pipo Hofstra, Isabella Hofstra; Rachel (Egon) Stowers, Ryan Felton and 15 great-grandchildren: Payton Velthouse, Phoenix Velthouse, Noah Thurston; Jackson Purkey, Alle Purkey; Joey Brink, Fisher Brink; Havyn  Rene Sachiko Clymer Hofstra;; Cassidy Murphy, Duncan Murphy;; Ava Hofstra, Ellie Hofstra & Judah Hofstra;; Melody DeYoung, Hezechiah DeYoung. And too many extended family to list.


            Per his wishes, cremation has taken place and a memorial service is being planned for the spring in the pasture in Bellaire where he kept his horses.  Feel free to remember him by singing his favorite hymn in Dutch, “Ere Zij God” [Glory to God (Luke 2:14)].

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

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


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18 Condolences

  1. Belle M Schmidt on November 23, 2020 at 11:24 am

    So sorry to learn that Wilbur has passed. I have many great and kind memories of Wilbur in relationship to learning to waterski 43 years ago at Spider Lake ? and listening to different Hofstra Family stories throughout the years. My mother, Evelyn Schmidt, was Shirlee Hofstra’s sister.

  2. Gerrit J Zylstra on November 29, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    Joanne so sorry to read of Wilbur’s passing. You have my deepest sympathy. I have many pleasant memories of the Saturday morning breakfasts at Mr. Burger and the golfing afterwards.

  3. Luanne Hindenach on December 4, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Wilbur was my boss at Creme Curl Bakery. He worked right beside us and always asked about our families. He was always smiling and we knew he cared about us. I was happy he could move near his daughter in Bellaire but we really missed him. My deepest sympathies to his family.

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