Serving West Michigan Since 1899

Sara Van Hekken

September 15, 1940 - January 25, 2018
Holland, MI



Sunday, January 28, 2018
3:00 PM to 5:00 PM EST
Dykstra Funeral Homes
Downtown Holland Chapel
29 East Ninth Street
Holland, MI 49423
(616) 392-2348
Driving Directions


Monday, January 29, 2018
4:00 PM EST
First Reformed Church
630 State Street
Holland, MI 49423
(616) 392-8085


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Hope College

The Renucci Hospitality House at Spectrum

Life Story / Obituary


Sara L. (VandePoel) VanHekken, age 77, of Holland, went to be with her Lord on Thursday, January 25, 2018. She inspired many as she fought multiple battles with cancer with Dutch determination and graceful resolve.

Sara was born September 15, 1940 to Russell and Olive VandePoel in Holland, Michigan. She graduated from Holland High School and Hope College. On the night of their high-school graduation, she began dating James Terry VanHekken, whom she had known since seventh grade. They married on Tuesday, November 20, 1962 and remained life partners until her death.

Sara taught elementary school in Zeeland and continued when she and Jim moved to Grand Rapids in 1964. She is survived by her loving husband Jim of 55 years and children: Matthew (Debra) of Grand Rapids; Daniel (Kimberly) of Clarkston, Michigan and Rebecca McIlwaine of Denver, Colorado. Sara and Jim returned to Holland full-time in 1998 where they re-engaged with old friends and enjoyed sunsets over Lake Michigan. Sara also enjoyed traveling, reading and was an active supporter of Hope College--especially sports and theater.

As a faith-filled member of Fifth Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Sara started a pre-school program and was actively involved in Women’s Circle. She returned to her childhood church, First Reformed Church, upon their return to Holland. Throughout her life, she was a constant caregiver for her children, parents and in-laws. She also volunteered for over a decade helping residents at Freedom Village.

Sara was a beloved Grandma to six grandchildren Zachary (17), Ella (14), Sean (14), Nicholas (14), Owen (13) and Ryan (12). Sara is also survived by her sister, Mary VandePoel and brother, James (Irene) VandePoel and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 4:00 pm, Monday, January 29, 2018 at First Reformed Church, 630 State Street in Holland. Rev. Dr. Daniel Gillette will be officiating.

Visitation will be from 3-5 pm, Sunday, January 28, 2018 at Dykstra Funeral Home – Downtown Chapel, 29 East Ninth Street in Holland, and one hour prior to the service at the church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations made in Sara’s name to Hope College or The Renucci Hospitality House at Spectrum in Grand Rapids.