Violet Reitsma, born Violet Dykstra on April 7, 1927, was the middle child of Len and Margaret Dykstra. She had an older brother Len and a younger brother Mick and they grew up in Prospect Park, NJ. She worked hard all her life, even as a teenager. But she loved having fun with friends and family as well. She was part of a social group that called themselves the tip-toppers, and many of those friendships were life-long. Family bonds and devotion to family were central in her life.
In early June, the extended family would celebrate her father’s birthday with an all-day picnic at Ringwood Manor. Most Thanksgivings were with the entire family at Leonard St. in North Haledon, and Christmas rotated through the households with much self-made music. Violet loved music, playing hymns on the piano in particular. There’s was a musical family.
In the early 1950s, she met a recent Dutch immigrant, Andy Reitsma, and they married and spent their first few years in Texas where Andy was in the service. There they had their first-born, Bill, in May 1953. They had lots of friends that shared a similar life living simply in a trailer. Soon they moved back to NJ to be closer to family and they had their second son, Len, in May 1956. They bought a house in Wayne, NJ where they lived their entire married lives except for Violet’s last eight years at the Holland Home. In October of 1962 they had their third son and last child, Bob.
Life in Wayne was simple and rich. Andy and Violet worked hard to put their boys through the Eastern Christian school system. They were active members of the Preakness Christian Reformed Church. Andy was a volunteer fireman, with stints as the chief, and Violet did the unrelenting work of raising three boys in a neighborhood that had much to offer. Violet also served the Eastern Christian community as a bus driver for 30 years. Her life was one of constant service to others, mostly family. In their later years, she provided a great deal of care for both her mother (late 70s and early 80s) and then her father (late 80s and early 90s) who was also a resident of the Holland Home his last many years. She was a devoted daughter having a great deal of contact time with both of her parents. As well, as her boys grew and married and had children of their own, she provided a great deal of grandmotherly love to them. For her, family was the most important part of life.
Violet was a unique character, someone who could strike up a conversation with just about anyone. She loved getting to know people and looked out for those who needed a friend. She had a generous heart and truly believed that giving to others was one of the most important aspects of being a Christian. Up until her last few years, she continued to share and listen to stories of others. She had many friends, former classmates, even some relatives at the Holland Home and her relationship to those who cared for her was very special to her as well. As one person put it in the last few days of her life, “There was only one Violet.” Her willingness to be open with people about herself brought that same expression out in others. Consequently, she touched a lot of lives right till the day she died on Monday, June 17, 2019 in her room surrounded by family.
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