Avis South ’55 Boelkins


“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.” I John 3:1 Avis Irene Boelkins, a child of God, died Friday, December 22, 2017 surrounded by her family.

Born January 29, 1933, in her grandparents’ farmhouse in Vriesland to Lawrence and Heressa (Wabeke) South, she moved to Muskegon as a young girl. A graduate of Muskegon Heights Schools in 1951 and Hope College in 1955, Avis married William Boelkins on August 3, 1955, at Covenant Reformed Church.

A stay-at-home mother while her six children were young, Avis embodied Covenant Church’s mission statement, “In the city as one who serves.”

In early years, she volunteered as a Churchill School PTA leader, as a Boy Scout den mother, as a receptionist at Mercy Hospital, and as an alto at church and Muskegon Civic Theater.

When her children were older, she was a Children in Worship teacher, an elder at Covenant Church, a member of the Reformed Church in America General Program Council, a leader in the Cursillo/DeColores en Cristo spiritual retreats, and a Mona Shores school board member and president. For her many contributions, Avis was named Muskegon County Mother of the Year in 1977.

Later, Avis was a teacher aide at Michigan Dunes Montessori School until she and Bill wintered in Florida for fourteen years. Even as her eyesight declined, she participated in Bible Study Fellowship, exercised at Tanglewood Park, discussed books at Central Methodist Church, volunteered at Covenant Church’s hygiene pantry, and cheered for the Hope College volleyball team.

Curious about people and caring, Avis was a dedicated writer, sending notes to celebrate, console, and encourage those she loved well and those whom she had recently met.

She is survived by her beloved husband, Bill; daughters: Dawn Boelkins and John Schmidt in Holland, Lynn and Bruce Dake in Newberry, Leigh and Case Van Kempen in Holland; sons: Neal Boelkins and Mary Jo Jaskiewicz in Muskegon, Paul and Mary Boelkins in Grand Rapids, Karl and Stacie Boelkins in Cocksackie, New York; grandchildren: Rebecca Schmidt and David Fleece, Emma and Jeremy Gagnon, Derek and Brook Dake, Hannah Dake, Molly Dake, Abby and Cari Dufel, Peter and Kendra Van Kempen, Paul and Shanna Van Kempen, Chad and Jessica Boelkins, Kate Boelkins, Leah Boelkins, Jennifer Morrill, and Kelsie Morrill; great-grandchildren: Ben, Cooper, Isabel, Cora, Hattie, and Ian; brother, Laverne and Florraine South in Jenison; brothers- in-law Robert and Inge Boelkins in Muskegon and Dennis and Mary DeWitt in Holland.

Her sister, Janna DeWitt; brothers, Larry South and Bobby South; and granddaughter, Lisa Boelkins, preceded her in death.

Visitation will be 4-7 p.m., Saturday, January 6, at Sytsema Funeral Home, Lee Chapel, 6291 Harvey St., Norton Shores, 231-798-1100.

A celebration of the resurrection and a remembrance of Avis will be 2 p.m., Sunday, January 7, at Covenant Community Church, 134 E. Barney Ave., Muskegon Heights, with the Revs. Mark and Miriam Bush officiating. Interment will be private. Memorial gifts may be given to Covenant Community Church, RCA. Share memories with the family at Avis’s online guestbook at sytsemafh.com


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