It is with deep sadness, but incredible joy for her, that we share the passing of Elizabeth Mae (Sikkema) Gerritsen (“Betty’) on November 8, 2022. She was predeceased by her parents, her brother William Sikkema and her husband Adrian Gerritsen (“Ed’). She is survived by her daughter Beth McKee and her son Jim Gerritsen; their respective spouses, Bill and Kathy; as well as six grandchildren - Libby, Will, Nick, Jamie, Kelley, and John. More recently she was blessed with four great grandsons - Carter, Levi, Jack, and William - with one more on the way. Betty was born in the bedroom of her childhood home on May 24, 1934 to Nicholas and Bertha (Sybesma) Sikkema. Located in her precious Preakness Valley in Wayne, New Jersey, she grew up only 25 miles from Manhattan Island, but otherwise worlds away. Her dad and uncles were dairy farmers there and she spent an idyllic childhood playing with her brother and cousins in the barns, fields and stream that ran through the property. She proved to be a bright student, skipping a grade in school only to become valedictorian of her class. So, much to her dad’s dismay, she insisted on leaving her beloved valley to earn her teaching degree at Calvin College her denomination’s college in far away Grand Rapids, Michigan. Home for Christmas break one year, Betty met a handsome young man on leave from the Army. They fell in love, married and bought a house being built on property from the farm that had been sold to developers. They raised Beth and Jim there, moving to Grand Rapids after Ed and she had retired in 1995 to be closer to their kids and grandkids who were now in the Midwest. Mom well used her education degree, teaching fifth grade and eventually middle school and high school English in the Eastern Christian School system. She was the faculty sponsor of the school newspaper, yearbook, and directed several plays. Reading and dissecting books was her passion. When she wasn’t reading she was playing bridge. She enjoyed puzzles and games of all sorts - anything that would challenge her keen intellect. Betty lived her life with a conviction to her Reformed Christian faith. Her love for the Gospel and its message came through in every aspect of her life. She loved teaching her English classes about the Christian symbolism in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Along with Dad, they would wake up at the crack of dawn for over a decade to answer a Christian help line. Always a teacher, she enjoyed tutoring a Somalian immigrant through the Literary Center of West Michigan. She used her depth of Biblical knowledge to instruct women in several Bible studies. But, most of all, she desired that her children, grandchildren and succeeding generations would embrace the faith she so treasured. That would be the legacy she hoped to pass on. The family would be pleased to receive Betty’s relatives and friends at the Metcalf and Jonkhoff Funeral Chapel from 4:00 to 7:00pm on Friday, November 18th and at 10:00 am on Saturday, November 19th with an 11:00 am service immediately following at Metcalf. For those who wish, memorial contributions may be made to Eastern Christian School Association, Calvin College and World Renew.
World Renew United States
8970 Byron Commerce Dr SW, Byron Center MI 49315-7400
Calvin University Development Office
3201 Burton St. SE, Grand Rapids MI 49546-4388
Eastern Christian School Association
50 Oakwood Avenue, North Haledon NJ 07508