Hazel Kragt ’49

Hazel (VanderWoude) Kragt of Spring Lake, Michigan, passed away peacefully on the morning of her 92nd birthday, May 20, 2020.

Hazel was born in Missaukee County, Michigan on May 20, 1928 as the only child of Janet (Abbring/Buikema) and Harold Vander Woude.

Hazel graduated from McBain high school as the valedictorian of her class and received a full scholarship to Hope College. She graduated from Hope College in 1949 and married Earl Kragt on August 31, 1949. Together they shared a calling to serve God throughout their lives. Although at the time women were not granted degrees or allowed ordination, Hazel was the first woman to attend Western Theological Seminary. She later received her Master’s in Christian Education from Hartford Theological Seminary.

Hazel and Earl were missionaries in the Philippines for 12 years in Naga, Cebu and Manila. In later years they taught at the Taiyuan University in north-central China. Earl served as pastor of Hope Reformed Church in Grand Haven, Michigan and Casnovia Reformed Church in Casnovia, Michigan. Hazel used her theological education and heart for service as she worked along-side Earl as director of adult and children’s Christian education, youth leader, choir director, pianist, organist, Vacation Bible school director and church secretary.

Hazel and Earl also lived, worked and served in California, Canada, New Jersey, Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Toledo, Ohio. Hazel was an excellent teacher and Bible scholar. Her heart was always to serve God and serve others. She loved to read, write, write poetry, paint and teach and did these activities until her last day on Earth. In the last years of her life she spent much of her time teaching and writing a book on the rich symbolism she saw in St. John’s book of Revelation.

She is preceded in death by her husband of 64 years, Earl. Together they raised five children: Paul Kragt currently in Dalian, China, David Kragt of Muskegon, Michigan, Janice Kragt of Ft. Washington, Maryland, Daniel and Anna Kragt of Goshen Indiana and Mary and David Thornsen of Spring Lake, Michigan. They have 8 grandchildren: Rebecca Kragt and Blaise Kyrios, Caleb and Allie Kragt, Benjamin Kragt, Abigail and Truman Finnell, Jack Thornsen, Samuel Thornsen, Isaac Thornsen and Joseph Thornsen. They also have two great grandchildren: Reuben Kragt and Lydia Kragt. Hazel is survived by her sibling in-laws: Marvin and Nancy Kragt, Phyllis Kragt, Norma VanLoo, and Beverly Kragt, numerous nieces and nephews and cousins from the Cadillac area.

She is preceded in death by sibling in-laws: Betty Kragt, Donna and Con Boeve, Barbra and Edward Altena, Roger Kragt, Cornelius VanLoo, and Cornel Kragt, and two nieces: Deborah Lambers and Sue Kragt. She enjoyed friendships made at Norton Pines, in her neighborhood and all over the world. She is a member and part of the church family of First Presbyterian Church of Grand Haven.

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