Maria DeGruyter

September 8, 1925April 30, 2019

Maria DeGruyter, age 93 of Haslett, passed away April 30, 2019. She was born September 8, 1925 in Alkmar, Netherlands to parents Henry Jon and Margaret DeRichmont.

Left to cherish Maria’s memory are her husband, Walter DeGruyter; sons, Walter A. (Jamie) DeGruyter and Michael John DeGruyter; daughter, Margaret Rita Graham; and grandchildren, Walter James, Adam Vaughan, and Alison Vaughan DeGruyter.

Maria received her schooling in the Netherlands before becoming a special education teacher at the Beekman Center.

At her request, no services will be held. Interment will occur at East Lawn Memorial Gardens.

The Lady of the Lake

Most people knew Rita as the “Lady of the Lake”. Always sitting on her throne with a waving hand as boats passed by, knowing everyone on the lake like she keeping track of all her people. Everyone would smile and yell, “Hey Rita!” always making her smile and laugh as she would yell, “Woo-hoo” especially if it was happy hour. I remember the lady of the lake always loving a great party, any night of the week, especially ones that took place on a floatila (multiple boats tied together) in the middle of her lake.

I remember as a little kid I was always so excited to stay with her. Every other day I got to lower the bird feeder, which was on a cool pulley system, and fed the birds. I would build forts in the basement and she would bring all of her plants next to it making it seem real to me. Or going down to the lake with a tiniest little tub, catching crawfish and bluegills with a net and some bread. I remember when I was in 6th grade, I was having some problems with people at school, and that didn’t fly with her, so she taught me how to swear at them in Dutch. That made my parents really happy, I’m sure. HAHAHA

In the Netherlands, she was a kindergarten teacher and continued to teach when she came here to the States. One of her favorite things do was to read to me; maybe that’s why I became a teacher. She was always so proud and excited to hear about it. She was the first person to ever teach me how to cook, it was only eggs, but I thought it was cool. Plus she let me salt and pepper them. As I got older, I was able to celebrate her 50th, 60th, and even the 65th wedding anniversary to my Opa. Through 65 years of marriage it was always funny to hear her argue with him because it always started in English but ended in Dutch. They always loved each other, always said good night, and always communicated with each other. She would tell me stories about surviving the war and how she met my Opa. She was ice skating and she twisted her ankle, so my Opa came by with a chair and started pushing her around laughing and having a great time.

To many, she was the Lady of the Lake but to me, she was my Oma. She taught me so many life lessons, whether it was the teacher in her or just being my Oma, I learned so much from her. She taught me to enjoy life, from her stories of survival, her countless trips and cruises around the world, and the endless friends she had. She taught me how precious time with people you care about is. Every time I came home I would try and visit. From the time I walked in the door to the time I left she had a smile on her face. When I left she would give me a hug and a kiss and tell me how much she appreciated me coming to visit her. She taught me to love and cherish the people in my life. The most important lesson she taught me is to have fun and to enjoy the life we live. She was always the life of the party, and maybe that’s where I get it from, or my love for Gin and Tonics.

As I sit here thinking of all the great memories, crying and drinking a Gin and Tonic, I ask for everyone who knew her or heard some amazing stories of my Oma, the Lady of the Lake, to not be sad. Instead, celebrate her life with a Gin and Tonic or many, like she taught me!

Tot Ziens Oma


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Maria DeGruyter

have a memory or condolence to add?

Mike DeGruyter

May 6, 2019

What a beautifully expressed witness of love from your heart, Jr. if you don’t mind, I’ll share your post as words for me are like some cosmic fruit salad in these moments and I don’t think I could be more eloquent than your testimony.

I can tell you that was there as she let go of her final sweet breath holding her hand.

I had an instinct to tidy up the room, open the window a little, move the gently opening tulips at the edge of the bed and rearrange the chairs in the room. The very second that was complete and I sat next to her she let breath go. We sat quietly for a while. She knew you were there earlier to be with her, she knew Opa was there earlier to say goodnight, she knew your dad and mom were there earlier to be with her.

Her body was completely worn out and she is dancing on twinkling stars into a another rebirth.

I’ll add a few other random photo of OMA and OPA from young to old if you don’t mind.

You are right, she was a wonderful teacher.

Jerry Chaffin

May 3, 2019

She was smart, kind and such an all around nice lady. I'm always going to have very fond memories of Rita and Walter. 🌹 ❤