Willa Lemken ’74

Willa Lemken passed away Thursday, July 22, 2021. Willa was born to Evelyn M. Lemken (nee Timmerman) and Russell K. Lemken, Sr. in Queens, NY on April 16, 1951.

Willa spent her girlhood in New York enjoying her dad’s wry wit, her mom’s home cooking, outings with her sisters Alison and Hilary for a beverage and some clams casino, and schooling her brother Russ in basketball. Willa attended Hope College, graduated in 1974 and made Michigan her home. New York’s loss was Holland’s gain.

Hollanders soon discovered Willa’s integrity, openness, generosity, and self-effacing sense of humor – qualities that turned her acquaintances into friends, and her friends into life-long companions. In her professional life, Willa always chose opportunities to help others, whether it was planning travel with clients in Holland, managing corporate and international travel programs in Traverse City, serving in the Peace Corps in Lesotho, or providing home-style comfort at her bed and breakfast, the Twin Oaks Inn, in Saugatuck. Willa always put the needs of others first.

Her thoughtfulness wasn’t limited to people. Throughout Willa’s life there were many furry and feathered creatures in her care, including dogs, cats, ducks, geese, chickens, goats, a sway-back mule named Freddy, and especially her constant kitty-companion Daisy.

Willa was predeceased by her mother and father. But, she will be sorely missed by her siblings Alison Grossman (Allan), Hilary Spezzaferro (Mike), and Russ (Helen), and her niece Nina Spezzaferro, nephews Matthew and Peter Lemken, as well as her wide circle of friends who loved her like a sister.

Return to Current In Memoriam