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Ida May "Jill" Wiersema

July 20, 1928 ~ August 20, 2017 (age 89)

Ida May “Jill” Wiersema, age 89, of Grand Haven, passed away on August 20, 2017 after living with Parkinson’s for a number of years.  She was born in Niles, MI on July 20, 1928 to Charles and Anna (Messenger) Gillette, but was raised by her uncle and aunt; Dr. Clarence and Ruth (Wells) Gillette because Anna died when Jill was an infant. Jill graduated from Niles High School in 1946, attended Stephens College in Columbia, MO for two years and then transferred to Michigan State University. There she joined Kappa Kappa Gamma and graduated in 1950 with a BA in English Literature. She was employed by Upjohn Pharmaceutical in Kalamazoo where she met Raymond Wiersema. They married on March 29, 1952 in Niles and recently celebrated their 65th Anniversary. Jill and Ray resided briefly in Washington DC, Brooklyn NY, Fremont OH, and then moved to Grand Haven in 1958. They joined the First Presbyterian Church and Jill served as Clerk of Session, Elder, President of Women’s Association and Sunday school teacher. Through the years she volunteered for schools, hospitals and community organizations. Upon Ray’s retirement they sailed their sailboat from Grand Haven to Florida and cruised the Bahamas. Later, they repeated their Florida journey with a power boat. Over the years they wintered in Briny Breezes, FL and traveled the Americas, Europe and Asia. She was deeply devoted to her family and will be warmly remembered for her loving kindness. She was a patient and encouraging listener, kept a jar filled with chocolate chip cookies, was a champion bedtime story reader, a tidy housekeeper, an adventurous hiker, a stylish dresser, a seasoned sailor and an enthusiastic card player. Jill enjoyed reading, cooking, sewing and gardening. She is survived by her loving family; husband Ray, 3 daughters and spouses; Lynn (David) Phipps of Elizabethtown, KY; Carol (Dr. Douglas) Jensen of Charlottesville, VA and Dr. Janet (Cheri Peterson) Wiersema of Brooklyn, NY; seven grandchildren; Leslie (Stuart) Povall, W. Gregory (Shiraz) Phipps, Julianne (Dr. Zachariah) Miller, Dr. Lisa (Kevin) Mitchell, Dr. Mark (Sarah) Jensen, Kathleen (Mark) Schairbaum, and Valerie (Bradley) Tulenko; eight Great Grandchildren and brother, Jim Gillette. She was preceded in death by her brother. A Family Memorial Service for Jill is being planned. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions in Jill’s name can be made to the First Presbyterian Church. Interment will be in Lake Forest Cemetery. Arrangements by Klaassen Family Funeral Home.


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