Life Story / Obituary
With quiet strength and an unending love for family, Helen Watts created a timeless legacy to be treasured. She may not have had the riches of some, but her heart overflowed with blessings. Helen’s greatest joy was found in those she loved while making precious memories along the way. Always a caring and giving woman to know and love, she will be dearly missed.
While the nation struggled through the worst year of the Great Depression, the year 1933 saw an unprecedented U.S. jobless rate of over 15 million. At the same time, great strides were being made in the culture of America as Radio City Music Hall opened and The Ranger, the first U.S. aircraft carrier, was launched. FDR held his first “Fireside Chat” to boost the spirits of Americans while they also continued their thirst for entertainment as a deviation from hard economic times. Despite the changes in the world around them, Henry J. and Theresa (Katsma) Timmer of Hudsonville, Michigan found much to be thankful for on December 26, 1933, when they lovingly welcomed the Christmastime gift and birth of their little daughter, Helen Mae into their arms.
Lovingly named after both of her grandmothers, Helen was the oldest of the eventual seven Timmer children, who came to include John, Marcia, Bill, Terry, Linda, and Holly in their bustling household. Helen’s father maintained their small little farm and also worked as a carpenter while her mother remained at home as a busy homemaker. Being the oldest, Helen often helped her mother with the younger children and with household chores, yet growing up in rural Hudsonville offered a young girl like Helen much adventure. She and her siblings shared great times in the cornfields chasing the pigs that often escaped from their coop, and it was a big treat to be able to get a comic book when they went to the store. Helen was very close to her Grandma Timmer and liked recalling fond times spent with her. It was always a good time enjoying all the family reunions on both sides of her family, and the many Friday and Saturday nights playing Shanghai Rummy with her family around their kitchen table were times Helen loved to remember.
Helen attended the local schools and in high school she played the cornet. Friday night football games found her marching in her school’s marching band, as well as dating her high school sweetheart, Wayne Kooienga who was a year younger than Helen. After graduating from Hudsonville High School in 1954 and at the age of 18, Helen and Wayne were married. Before long they welcomed the birth of their daughter, Debra, although their marriage was not meant to last. By this time Helen’s parents had moved to Florida, so after her marriage to Wayne ended, Helen packed up and she and her daughter joined her parents in Florida.
While living in Florida, Helen worked hard to support herself and her young daughter by working as a bank teller and bookkeeper. She came to know love again when she met a handsome gentleman by the name of Kenneth Watts. A Navy man, the two fell deeply in love and on March 17, 1968 they were joined in marriage. Ken took on Helen’s daughter, Debra as his own and together they shared the love of two more children, Dawn and Bryant, in addition to Ken’s children, Kenneth and Cassandra. A wonderful and devoted wife and mother, Helen made a good home for her family. She remained at home with her children, never ceased in being there for them, and pretty much kept to herself. As a family they loved family vacations to Kentucky and Michigan in addition to their travels to New York and Niagara Falls.
To support their family, Helen’s husband eventually retired from the Navy and went on to become a teacher. Helen continued the family tradition of playing Shanghai Rummy every Friday night. After their Friday trip to the grocery store, she could hardly wait to get home where everyone gathered to play the game. More than anything, Helen loved being surrounded by her family. In her free time she loved working on puzzle games, especially crossword puzzles. She was also an avid reader, particularly stories about World War II. Helen always drove a nice car and even named them! She also liked cooking or going out for a good smelt dinner, too. Being in the midst of her grandchildren always brought Helen the greatest joy. She loved spending time with them, especially playing rummy and hearing about their school events and other activities.
Helen suffered a stroke in 1989 and following the death of her beloved husband and mother, she returned to Michigan in 2007 to be closer to her daughter, Debra who lived in Twin Lake. As her needs increased, Helen became a resident of Christian Care in Muskegon, Michigan where she lived for the past several months.
Gone yet never to be forgotten are the wonderful memories Helen leaves behind. Everyone loved her quick witted ways and often times, dry sense of humor that delighted all in her company. Helen’s love for family was without end, and for those who came to know and love her, she will be dearly remembered.
Helen Mae Watts, age 83, slipped from the bonds of earth and went home to heaven on Monday, January 9, 2017. SURVIVORS: Daughters, Debra (Paul) Lisinski of Twin Lake, MI, Dawn Watts Westfall of Great Valley, NY; son, Bryant J. Watts of Twin Lake, MI; stepchildren, Kenneth W. Watts & Cassandra Watts of Kentucky; grandchildren, Steven (Heidi Hurst) Lisinski, Stacy (Timothy) Hartzell, Amy, Megan & Leah Westfall; great-grandchildren, Chloe Lisinski, Jaxon Lisinski, Ayden & Ashton Hartzell as well as step-grandchildren & step-great-grandchildren; former husband, Wayne L. Kooienga; sisters, Marcia (late Donald) Spink of Bushnell, FL, Linda (Chris) Hill of Tampa, FL; brother, Terry Timmer of Bushnell, FL; sister-in-law, Carol Timmer of Baldwin, MI; She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers, John H. Timmer, William J. Timmer; sister, Holly J. Timmer; and husband, Kenneth L. Watts.
SERVICE: Saturday, January 14, 2017, 11:00 am with visitation one hour prior at the Clock Chapel - Muskegon with Rev. Ken Shady officiating. Interment in Sunrise Memorial Gardens. VISITATION: Friday, January 13, 2017, 5-7 pm at Clock Funeral Home - Muskegon. MEMORIAL: Christian Care. To share a favorite memory or photo or Helen and to sign her online guest book, please visit www.clockfuneralhome.com. Clock Funeral Home- Muskegon