Cover photo for Katherine "Kay" Hamstra's Obituary
Katherine "Kay" Hamstra Profile Photo
1927 Katherine 2019

Katherine "Kay" Hamstra

May 8, 1927 — April 25, 2019

Katherine “Kay” (Byker) Hamstra was born May 8, 1927, in Perkins, Iowa. She passed from this life to her rest in Jesus April 25, 2019, in Berrien Springs, Michigan.

Katherine’s father, Date Gerrits Bijker, was born in Friesland, a province in the Netherlands. He came to America with his older brother, Jan Gerrits, in 1910. The brothers would name their first daughters Katherine (Katarina or simply Trina) for their own mother, Trijntje Dates Loonstra, who died when they were young. Her mother, Johanna Wilhelmina Van Leeuwen, was born in Kansas to Dutch immigrant parents. Johanna was named for her father’s mother, Johanna Wilhelmina Overdijking. Such was the custom to pass along important family names.

Date and Johanna met and married in rural northwestern Iowa. For many years the family lived in Lincoln Township in Sioux County. Kay was a straight-A student in school. When she graduated from 8th grade her principal wrote a letter recommending that she attend high school. The reality of rural life during the Great Depression was going to work as a teenager to help support the family. Though she never returned to school, Kay retained her love of learning and she was an avid reader of books and magazines. She had a phenomenal memory for facts and people, did arithmetic in her head and seldom took notes to remember things.

In 1947 the Byker family moved to Hudsonville, Michigan where the younger siblings were able to graduate from Christian schools in Hudsonville. Four of Kay’s brothers graduated from Calvin College. Two of them taught at Calvin College and one taught at Harvard.

In Michigan Kay met the love of her life, Ray Hamstra, at a roller skating rink. Raymond and
Katherine married May 5, 1948 in the Calvin Seminary chapel in Grand Rapids. Their
first home was a trailer on the property where he had grown up.

Ray, Kay and two children moved to Berrien Springs in 1950. The GI Bill paid for his college
education. Her thrift and diligence and his carpenter tools supported their growing family and
renovated the first house they owned. She would paint and hang wallpaper in subsequent
houses they rented or owned. After Ray graduated from Emmanuel Missionary College in
1955, they served in pastoral ministry for over 30 years at 13 different churches.

As a girl Kay learned to cook for a large family. To help her children go to church school, Kay
learned to cook for a small army of hungry students. She also cooked for hundreds of people
on church outings. Within her own family and her extended family she was famous for her
home-baked bread and pies, though in her own mind she never quite baked the perfect pie.
She also enjoyed gardening, sewing and caring for her own family and many other children in
her home, in a church-operated day care center that she managed, and in the Head Start

In retirement Ray and Kay divided their time between their houses in Michigan and Florida and their motor home that went all over the country. In their later years failing health confined them to Hudsonville and then Berrien Springs. In her final years the ravages of Parkinson’s confined Kay in her words “like a prisoner in my own body”.

Katherine Hamstra was preceded in death by her parents, Date and Johanna (Van Leeuwen)
Byker; her husband, Raymond Hamstra; her sisters, Marlene (Donald) De Pree and Jeanette
Byker; and her brothers: Gerrit “Gary”, Henry “Johnny”, Leonard “Lee”, James "Jack", Albertus
“Bert”, and Donald “Don”.

Surviving are her brothers, Willis “Will” and Harold “Harry”; her children and their spouses: Dick (Sherry), Karen (A. Charles) Winans, Jim (Renae), Don (Susan), and Dan (Lynnetta); 15 grandchildren; and 24 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her sisters-in-law: Henrietta, Win, MaryJane and Joan Byker and Ophel “Goldie” Zevalkink; by her many nieces and nephews; and by thousands of people whose lives were touched by her years of service to others.

The memorial service to celebrate the life of Katherine Hamstra will be 3 p.m. Saturday, May 4 at Hillcrest Christian Reformed Church, 3617 Hillcrest Road, Hudsonville, Michigan. Private interment will be at Allendale Township Cemetery.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Katherine "Kay" Hamstra, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Starts at 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

Hillcrest Christian Reformed Church

3617 Hillcrest Road, Hudsonville, MI 49426

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