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Welcome to the memorial page for

Susan Steketee Freihofer

April 22, 1926 ~ May 12, 2017 (age 91)


Susan Steketee Freihofer died at Porter Hills on May 12 just a short while after celebrating her 91st birthday at Cook Valley where she had lived for many years. Susan was born on April 22, 1926. Her parents were Donald and Charlotte (Vogt) Steketee. She grew up in East Grand Rapids, attended East Grand Rapids Elementary and Junior High; she attended East Grand Rapids High School then transferred to The Madeira School in Fairfax County, Virginia, and graduated in 1944. She received her B.A. degree in Government and History from Barnard College in New York City in 1948, and completed a one year certificate in Business Administration from Radcliffe College Graduate School in association with Harvard Business School in 1955. Her father Donald Steketee was President of Steketee’s Department Store, the family business started by her great-grandfather Paul Steketee, who founded the company, Paul Steketee and Sons, in 1862. The downtown flagship store on Monroe Avenue, a Grand Rapids historical landmark, opened in 1915. During her youth she developed a love of the outdoors. She went to summer camp in Wisconsin (ages 12 and 13), sailed a 16’ Snype on Reeds Lake at age 14; learned to trout fish on the Pere Marquette river at her family’s summer camp, and spent many happy years at Kinne Creek, a rustic fishing club near Baldwin. She was a serious golfer, winning the Kent Country Club Championship in 1960 and 1962 for which she was very proud. Among her other hobbies were tennis, sailing, skiing, gardening, and playing cards. Her grandmother Vogt taught her to play bridge at age 12 and she played duplicate bridge until her arthritis at age 89 made it impossible to hold a deck of cards. Susan married Walter Brown Freihofer, Jr., an attorney, on January 26th, 1957 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids. She was active in many civic organizations including the St. Margaret’s Guild of St. Marks Episcopal Church (40 years) and the Sideboard Guild of Blodgett Memorial Medical Center (45 years). She was a supporter of the Grand Rapids Art Museum and the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. Art and music were part of her life’s passions. She served on both the boards of the Grand Rapids Symphony (9 years) and Opera Grand Rapids (9 years) and was a devoted supporter of the performing arts. She also served on the board of Kendall College of Art and Design (9 years) during the school’s transitional move from its College Street location to the Manufacturer’s Building on Fountain Street in downtown Grand Rapids and was always proud of the school’s continued growth and reputation for excellence. Walter Freihofer predeceased her in 2012. In addition to her children, Charles of Grand Haven (Katrine Helgeson), Ellen of Grand Rapids (Jerry Learned, deceased), Daniel (Sarah Barnes) of Lyme, New Hampshire, Charlotte (Ted Albers) of Shelburne, Vermont, and Paul (Caroline) of Grand Rapids, she is survived by nine grandchildren: Will, Sarah, Sam, Clare, Erika, Nikki, Joe, Marion, and Anna.  She is also predeceased by her beloved sister Jane (Sheppard) and survived by two nieces and a nephew: Steve, Elizabeth, and Emily. A memorial service will be held at St. Marks Episcopal Church on Friday, June 23 at 11am, with a reception following in the parish hall. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Grand Rapids Symphony, Opera Grand Rapids, the Humane Society of West Michigan, or the charity of your choice.


Charitable donations may be made to:

Grand Rapids Symphony
300 Ottawa Ave NW, Grand Rapids MI 49503

Opera Grand Rapids
1320 Fulton St. E., Grand Rapids MI 49503
Tel: 1-616-451-2741

Humane Society of West Michigan
3077 Wilson Dr. N.W., Grand Rapids MI 49534
Tel: 1-616-453-8900

 Service Information

Funeral Service
June 23, 2017

11:00 AM
St. Marks Episcopal Church
134 Division Ave. N
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

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