Sara Vande Poel ’62 Van Hekken

Sara L. (VandePoel) VanHekken, 77, of Holland, went to be with her Lord on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018. She inspired many as she fought multiple battles with cancer with Dutch determination and graceful resolve.

Sara was born Sept. 15, 1940, to Russell and Olive VandePoel in Holland.

She graduated from Holland High School and Hope College. On the night of their high school graduation, she began dating James Terry VanHekken, whom she had known since seventh grade. They married on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 1962, and remained life partners until her death.

Sara taught elementary school in Zeeland and continued when she and Jim moved to Grand Rapids in 1964.

She is survived by her loving husband Jim of 55 years and children, Matthew (Debra) of Grand Rapids; Daniel (Kimberly) of Clarkston, and Rebecca McIlwaine of Denver, Colo. Sara and Jim returned to Holland full-time in 1998 where they re-engaged with old friends and enjoyed sunsets over Lake Michigan. Sara also enjoyed traveling, reading and was an active supporter of Hope College–especially sports and theater.

As a faith-filled member of Fifth Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Sara started a preschool program and was actively involved in Women’s Circle. She returned to her childhood church, First Reformed Church, upon their return to Holland. Throughout her life, she was a constant caregiver for her children, parents and in-laws. She also volunteered for over a decade helping residents at Freedom Village.

Sara was a beloved grandma

to six grandchildren Zachary (17), Ella ( 14), Sean (14), Nicholas (14), Owen (13) and Ryan (12). Sara is also survived by her sister, Mary VandePoel and brother, James (Irene) VandePoel and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 29, at First Reformed Church, 630 State Street in Holland. Rev. Dr. Daniel Gillette will be officiating.

Visitation will be from 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, at Dykstra Funeral Home– Downtown Chapel, 29 East Ninth St. in Holland, and one hour prior to the service at the church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations made in Sara’s name to Hope College or The Renucci Hospitality House at Spectrum in Grand Rapids.

To sign an online registry or leave a memory please visit dykstrafuneral

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