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Thomas D Wolma
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Birth: unknown
Death: Jan. 23, 2014
Michigan City
La Porte County
Indiana, USA

The Grand Rapids couple killed in a massive 45 car/semi pileup on I-94 in Michigan City, Indiana were retired, one as a Grand Rapids Schools teacher and the other as a government worker.

Thomas Wolma, 67, and Marilyn Wolma, 65, died in the 2 p.m. crash.

Marilyn Wolma retired in 2008 as an elementary teacher with Grand Rapids Schools. She still worked as a substitute, most recently at Sibley Elementary.

School officials say she began her teaching career in 1988 as a substitute and temporary teacher before being hired full-time.

She worked at Buchanan Elementary and later at Sibley Elementary.

Grand Rapids Schools leaders and teachers who knew Marilyn Wolma were gathering at Sibley Elementary this morning to talk about her.

Neighbors who lived near the Wolmas' home in Grand Rapids said Thomas Wolma was a retired government employee who worked at a downtown Internal Revenue Service building.

The couple loved to travel the world, neighbors said.

Thomas and Marilyn Wolma were among three people killed in the pileup that involved 46 vehicles, including 19 semi-trucks. Police said up to 20 others were injured.

The couple was on their way back from Wisconsin, where they helped care for Marilyn Wolma's younger sister because of recent surgery, school officials said.

All who knew Thomas and Marilyn Wolma would agree that their relationship exemplified what God intended for marriage to be. They were companions, partners, and best friends in every way. Both Tom and Marilyn were accompanied by a lifelong faith that never wavered, and the storms of life only drew them closer to Him and also to one another. Tom was the provider and the rock of their family while Marilyn personified the role of a loving, giving, and protective parent. They both were active servants in their community and truly viewed everything that came their way as part of God's perfect plan for their lives. The legacy they leave behind that is deeply rooted in faith, love, and compassion toward others will be proudly carried on by those who follow in their footsteps.

With the end of WWII in 1945, America was making the shift from being a nation at war to a nation at peace. Industry was no longer needed to support the war effort, and rationing became a thing of the past. It was during this exciting time that Maurice and Fredricka (Vander Schie) Wolma were blessed with the birth of the son they named Thomas D. on June 11, 1946, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was the youngest of three survivng children in his family, raised in the family home alongside his siblings, Carol, and Dan. Tom's father was a milkman and part-time realtor while his mother was a homemaker.

Tom was an active boy right from the start. He enjoyed water skiing and boating and was a student at West Side Christian School during his youngest years. Tom went on to graduate from Grand Rapids Christian High School in 1964 and was also a member of the swimming and golf teams. His education continued at Calvin College where he played soccer and later at the University of Michigan. Tom was raised in the Christian faith and attended Twelfth Street Christian Reformed Church with his family.

When Tom was nearly two, Richard and Anne (Van Dam) Van Vuren from Wausau, Wisconsin, celebrated the birth of their baby girl on August 19, 1948. Marilyn was one of eight children in her family and was raised with her siblings, Phyllis, Cynthia, Roger, Leonard, Nathan, Rachel, and Lisa. Her father worked as a farmer and plasterer while her mother was both a homemaker and an assistant on the farm. The Van Vuren family was very close, and they remained that way even when separated by long distances as adults. Vacations were few and far between as their farm duties required true commitment, even from Marilyn and her siblings as they had their fair share of work.

They were members of Birnamwood Christian Reformed Church.

Marilyn attended a one-room schoolhouse during her younger years while her high school years found her at Everest High School where she took a home economics class in which she excelled at sewing and modeled a dress that she made for her self as well as one for her sisters. After graduating in 1966, she continued her education at Calvin College, completing her undergraduate work there and went on to compete her graduate studies at Grand Valley State University.

It was while at Calvin that Tom and Marilyn's paths crossed when they were set up on a blind date. After dating for two years, the sweethearts became husband and wife on December 23, 1970, in the Seminary Chapel of Calvin College. The newlyweds enjoyed a honeymoon in Bermuda and then returned to begin their new life together in an apartment on the Northwest side of Grand Rapids. Tom and Marilyn later moved to a home at 1014 Rosalie, where they welcomed three boys into their hearts and home, Stephen, Timothy, and David. Tom worked as an engineer for Blackmer Pump and later for the United States Government with the Department of Defense while Marilyn spent several years working as a teacher, recently retiring from Sibley School.

In everything they did, their family was first and foremost in the lives of Marilyn and Tom. She loved to cook, and her family loved her scotcharoos as well as several of her other baked goods in addition to her Sunday roasts. It wasn't just her family who enjoyed Marilyn's cooking as she also loved bringing meals to those who were in need. They enjoyed fun-filled trips to places like Disney World, Gulf Shores, Alabama, the Blue Ridge Mountains, Washington, D.C, the Far West, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, and the Upper Peninsula. They traveled abroad to Romania, Mexico, and river trips in Europe, but their favorite spot was the cottage up North.

It was easy to see that both Tom and Marilyn had hearts that beat to serve others. He served as a deacon and she as a deaconess while he also served as an elder at their church. They both volunteered with Kid's Hope, and Tom served on the committee for an addition to the West Side Christian School and also volunteered at Rehoboth Christian School in New Mexico. Marilyn frequently opened her home to host foreign exchange students and also reached others through the Lenten devotionals that she wrote.

Both Marilyn and Tom enjoyed keeping busy. She liked reading everything from spiritual books to the latest book she was reading with her book club. Gardening and spending time with friends were other favorite activities, and she was amazing when it came to knitting and crocheting. Marilyn also loved music including classical music and praise music as well as the occasional musical. For several years she was a member of the Red Hat Society. Tom enjoyed talk radio, news, finance programs, and sports radio, and he never could turn down well done crispy french fries.

Later in life both Tom and Marilyn fully embraced both the peaks and valleys along their journey together. When she developed breast cancer in the early 2000s, their relationship only deepened to a new level. Their children remarked that they were more affectionate in such a sweet and special way, and what could have been a stumbling block in their lives became a growing experience instead. Together Marilyn and Tom delighted in their grandchildren, Chloe and Jonathan, and she was even more deeply appreciated for her strength, timeless wisdom, and selfless spirit. Marilyn's thirst for life bloomed fully, and she continued to challenge herself to new ways of expressing her creativity in the things she loved.

Thomas Wolma will be remembered for his generous, happy, and approachable personality while Marilyn Wolma will be remembered for her tenderness, her generosity, and her desire to love Jesus more deeply with each new day. They will both be dearly missed but never forgotten.

WOLMA, THOMAS AND MARILYN Thomas D. Wolma, age 67, and Marilyn J. Wolma, age 65, died unexpectedly Thursday, January 23, 2014, of accidental injuries. They are survived by their children, Stephen Wolma of Maplewood, NJ and his children, Chloe and Jonathan; Timothy Wolma of Walled Lake and David (Laurel) Wolma of Royal Oak. Also surviving are Tom's sister, Carol (Pat) Kommendyk; and brother, Daniel (Kay) Wolma; Marilyn's brothers and sisters, Phyllis (John) Leder, Cynthia (Jim) Hoekstra, Leonard (Brenda) Van Vuren, Roger (Sally) Van Vuren, Nathan (Pam) Van Vuren, Rachel Van Vuren, Lisa (Todd) Witter; and many nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be held Thursday at 11 AM at LaGrave Ave. Christian Reformed Church, 107 LaGrave Ave SE. Friends may meet the family on Wednesday from 2-4 and 6-8 PM at Heritage Lifestory Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW and on Thursday at the church one hour prior to the service. Memorial contributions may be made to Rehoboth Christian School, PO Box 41, Rehoboth, NM 87322-0041. To leave a memory, read the Wolmas' lifestories, or sign the online guestbook, please visit

Published in Grand Rapids Press from Jan. 26 to Jan. 28, 2014

Family links: 
  Marilyn J Wolma (____ - 2014)*
*Calculated relationship
Created by: AMCorBTC
Record added: Jan 24, 2014
Find A Grave Memorial# 124033040
Thomas D Wolma
Added by: AMCorBTC
Thomas D Wolma
Added by: AMCorBTC
Thomas D Wolma
Added by: Elizabeth & Ron
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- Steve
 Added: Jan. 24, 2014

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