Elena Grace Bylsma Van Eenenaam, 76, of Watertown


Elena Grace Bylsma Van Eenenaam, 76, the wife of Dr. David Van Eenenaam, Watertown, NY, passed away peacefully and gracefully, at her home, surrounded by her loving family.

She was born November 13th, 1936 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to George P. and Grace Thomasma Bylsma.

She attended Creston High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and graduated from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, with a BA degree in education in 1959.  She was a member of the Sigma Sigma Sorority.

She met David Owen Van Eenenaam at Hope College, and they later married at the Central Reformed Church, Grand Rapids Michigan, August 17th, 1959.

She was an elementary school teacher for several years in the Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, Michigan school systems.

She moved with her husband to Ann Arbor, Michigan while he attended the University of Michigan Medical School and Orthopaedic surgery residency, from 1959 until 1966.

Prior to moving to Watertown, NY in 1968, she spent two years at the Great Lakes Naval Base north of Chicago, Illinois, during the Vietnam War, while her husband served in the Naval Medical Corps.

She was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Watertown, where she served as a Deacon. For the past 24 years she coordinated the memorial flowers for each Sunday service and decorated the Church for each holiday.  She was also a member of P.E.O., a Christian women’s national organization.

She was a volunteer with the Jefferson County Historical Society, the House of the Good Samaritan and Samaritan Medical Auxiliary for many years.

She had many interests including tennis, needlepoint, walking, reading, downhill skiing, and playing bridge.  She would always say “I will be a better bridge player the next time!”

She was an avid golfer, and was the women’s Club Champion at Ives Hill Country Club and three time Watertown Women’s City Champion.  She was President of the Ives Hill Women’s Golf Committee and member of the Sectional Affairs Committee of the NYSGA.

Most of all, she enjoyed being with her family.

She had four children, Peter (Dacia) Van Eenenaam of Watertown and their two children, Sarah and David; Sarah (Jeff) Hanson, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and their three children Jeffrey, Courtney, and Kyle; Amy (Graham) Atkinson, Manlius, NY, and their three children Ellie, Mary, and Kate; Kate (John) Wilson, Manlius, NY, and their two children Caroline and Jack.

She is also survived by her sister-in-law Carole Bylsma of Grand Rapids, Michigan;  a sister-in-law Isla Van Eenenaam Vermeulen and her husband Victor of West Olive, Michigan; a brother-in-law John and his wife Marianne Van Eenenaam of Grand Haven, Michigan and many nieces and nephews.

She was predeceased by her father, mother, and brother, Peter Bylsma.

A Saturday, February 9th funeral service is planned at 11:00 AM at the First Presbyterian Church, 403 Washington Street, Watertown, NY, followed by a reception and celebration of her life at the Black River Valley Club, 131 Washington Street.  There will be no calling hours.

The family would like to extend their appreciation to all who have extended their prayers, words of comfort, meals and support as she peacefully endured her final days.

The nursing and physician staff at Samaritan Medical Center during her recent hospitalizations could not have been more compassionate, caring, competent, and professional.  We all are blessed to have access to such fine medical care in our community.

She has requested donations be made to the First Presbyterian Church flower fund in lieu of flowers.

Arrangements are with Cleveland Funeral Home, Watertown, NY.


Friday, October 9, 2015
, Watertown, NY
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