Olive “Marjorie” Hoeksema, the Voice of the Elderly
Marjorie Hoeksema, the inspiration behind Holland’s Evergreen Commons which recently celebrated its 25th Anniversary, passed away on May 20th, 2010 at the Hospice House of Holland.
On February 12, 1918, Marjorie was born in Canterbury, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, the daughter of Richard and Mary Isabel (Moad) Coombes. On April 2, 1944 she received orders from the U.S. Fifth Air Force Service Command for whom she was working, to go to Brisbane, Australia to assist with the war effort. On that same day, Renze L. Hoeksema Sr. received orders from General Douglas MacArthur to also report to Brisbane. Marj and Renze would meet at the Albert Street Methodist Church and marry on March 21, 1945 at the Coologootha Street Methodist Church back in Canterbury.
Marjorie first came to Holland, Michigan in 1946, where she supported Renze’s studies at Hope College. While joining Renze in his Foreign Service career that took them to the Philippines, Pakistan, Iran and Thailand, she volunteered her time to local charities, particularly those focused on the elderly. In Thailand she taught English at Thammasat University in Bangkok, worked with Alma Link at the Link House caring for those who had suffered from leprosy and volunteered at the Cheshire Home for the Elderly.
On returning to Holland in 1971, Marjorie became involved with the Good Samaritan Center where her passion for helping senior citizens was further ignited. She established the Senior Services Advocacy Council and became an advocate for Alzheimer research and care, founding the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association in 1983. Issues such as senior citizen housing, long-term care and community services remained a top priority. Her advocacy took her to Lansing and Washington, DC but her interests always remained local. She began to have regular meetings with Edgar Prince, founder of Prince Corp., to discuss the needs of Holland and her vision for a senior center. After several years, Ed and his family took on this vision and established the Evergreen Commons in 1985, a facility that still stands as a model of senior services 25 years later. Many of the programs Marjorie initiated or supported were incorporated into the center.
Marjorie also served on the Board of Resthaven, and received their Good Shepherd Award for her service to others. In 1995 the Holland Chamber of Commerce recognized her with the Distinguished Service Award as a tribute to her commitment to the community. She was also recognized as the Advocate of the Year by the Michigan Alzheimer’s Association in 2002.
Marjorie was preceded in death by a brother, Frank (Pearl) Coombes.
She is survived by her husband of 65 years, Renze L. Hoeksema Sr., children, Richard and Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Margot and Barry Wynveen, Renze Jr. and Kristin Hoeksema; six grandchildren, Katharine Hoeksema, Bryan, Renee, Leslie and Leigh Wynveen, and Michael Hoeksema, in-laws, Emma Hoeksema and Gladys Timmer. She will be greatly missed but her love and devotion to service lives on in our hearts.
A Memorial Service will take place on Thursday, May 27 at 11:00 A.M. at Langland- Sterenberg Funeral Home at 315 East 16th Street, Holland with Dr. Timothy Brown officiating. Burial will be in Dutton Cemetery. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service.
Memorial contributions may be made to Evergreen Commons, 480 State Street, Holland, MI 49423 to support their Alzheimer’s care services or Resthaven, at 9 East 8th Street, Holland, MI 49423 on behalf of their Good Shepherd Home.
The family would like to express their thanks to Dr. Keith Marcus, the Zeeland Community Hospital and Hospice House of Holland for the special care they provided.