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Life Story / Obituary
Esther M. Van Ark, 93, passed away on January 8, 2021. She was born on December 7, 1927 in Chicago, IL to Charlie and Esther Hare Van Houten. The family moved to the Holland area in 1942. Esther graduated from Holland High in 1945, where she met Bill (William) Van Ark. They married in 1945 and started their family of eight children. Esther was a marvelous mother, very engaged in her children’s lives, serving as a Cub Scout and Camp Fire Girls Leader, knitting many pairs of mittens, taking her kids on different outings, serving wonderful meals and teaching her children how to cook and take care of themselves. And perhaps most importantly, how to sing together! Her “Arktet” of children eventually put on a series of popular concerts and of course continue to sing when they get together, especially when cousins, aunts & uncles are present to join in.
Esther was a very talented woman in many areas: a singer and pianist, an artist, and very good with words, serving as publicist for different organizations. She joined the alto section of the Holland Chorale and became its Business Manager. She participated in theatre at the Red Barn in Saugatuck and then joined Holland Community Theatre, both on stage and off, in varied areas. Following her first job as a rural carrier for the Holland Sentinel, Esther worked at Sears for 25 years until her retirement. After raising her eight children, she enrolled at Hope College, taking courses in music. Esther was an active Ottawa County Democrat for many years, serving as a delegate and at elections. She was a member of the Women’s Literary Club, Holland Garden Club, Holland Audubon Club and of Grace Episcopal Church. In 2002 the Board of the Holland Friends of Art bestowed a life membership on her for her years of dedicated service.
Esther was preceded in death by her husband Bill in 2008, by three brothers, John (1980), Charlie (1987) and Henry (2015) and by her oldest son Bill in 2018. She is survived by her children: Charles (Suzanne), James, Dawn, Velma Neau, Robert (Nancy), Laurie, Sally Gunn, and daughter-in-law Judy; sisters Jane Wiersma and Celesta (Vern) Root, brother Adrian (Sharon), sisters-in-law Karen Van Houten, Betty Van Houten, and Barbara Van Ark; many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.
A private family visitation and service will be held Friday (January 15), at Grace Episcopal Church. Burial will be in Restlawn Memorial Gardens.
In lieu of flowers donations could be made to Hospice of Holland, Holland Community Theatre or Grace Episcopal Church.
Arrangements are by the Dykstra Funeral Home-Mulder Chapel.