Date of Death:  July 25, 2021

Service Details

Visitation will be held September 11, 2021 at 10 a.m. at Hohner Funeral Home, 1004 Arnold St., Three Rivers, followed by a memorial service at 11 a.m. at the funeral home. Pastor Dan Lane will officiate. A video of the service is available here.

Obituary Notice

Joan Elizabeth Dykstra, 65, of Sturgis, passed away Sunday, July 25, 2021 in Engadine, Michigan.

She was born February 13, 1956 in Three Rivers, the daughter of Ray C. and Joyce Elaine (Rider) Gilbert.

Joan met her husband, Terrill “Terry” Dykstra while working at Harding’s Pharmacy in Three Rivers; the couple married on May 14, 1976. Terry was the love of her life, with whom she cherished two children, Elizabeth and Brian.

After graduating from Sturgis High School in 1974, Joan received her associate’s degree in computer programming from Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

She worked at Telemark and later for Sturgis Public Schools, where she assisted with computer classes and special education classes before retiring in 2012.

A member of Three Rivers Christian Reformed Church for many years, Joan taught Sunday School, led youth group, and directed Vacation Bible School. She loved her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and trusted in His mercy, looking forward to eternal life with Him.

Joan valiantly battled ovarian cancer for 13 years, inspiring many with her fortitude, determination, and zest for life. Six months after her diagnosis, she completed the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Goofy Challenge, finishing a half marathon and full marathon over two days. She went on to finish countless other races across the country. She was a fountain of energy, taking up activities like paddleboard yoga, and was an avid gardener and landscaper. She enjoyed photography, music, watercolors, and crafting.

Joan most enjoyed being with her family, especially at Hiawatha Sportsman’s Club in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where she vacationed her entire life. There she enjoyed the beach, fishing, looking for deer, hoping to spot a bear, and watching beautiful sunsets. It was there, surrounded by loved ones, that she spent her final earthly days.

Remaining to cherish her memory are her husband, Terry; daughter, Elizabeth (Eric) Delle; son, Brian (Samantha) Dykstra; brother, Steve (Pam) Gilbert; sisters, Barbara (Wayne) Taylor and Eloise (Mona Posinoff) Gilbert; brothers- and sisters-in-law Denny (Jeanie) Dykstra, Arlen (Joyce) Dykstra, and Dave (Diane) Dykstra; and many nieces and nephews, whom she adored.

She was preceded in death by her parents.

Joan has willed her body to the University of Michigan for medical research, ensuring that she will give others the gift of life.

Additional Information

Donations in Joan’s memory may be directed to the Michigan Ovarian Cancer Alliance. Envelopes are available at the funeral home.

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  1. Brian, I am so very sorry to hear of this great loss. We will most certainly keep your family in our prayers as you grieve. May your mother rest in the Peace of Christ, and may that same Peace fill your own heart.

  2. Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal. Joan was such a fierce warrior. She is an inspiration to all of us in how to handle adversities in our lives. So sorry for your loss.

  3. My dear Brian And Samantha.
    Our hearts go out to all of your family for the loss of your dear Mother. Joan was so blessed with all of you and your unwavering love. She fought a long hard battle and the Lord knew that in the UP and with her family that loved her at her side was where she wanted to enter his eternal kingdom. God bless you both and your family.

    Love Aunt Mary and Uncle Dick.

  4. To the entire family
    Our heartfelt sympathy goes to each of you with her passing. What a lady! So many good times when we all worked at Hardings. May her joy of life live in each of you all the days of your life. Our love to each of you

  5. We knew Joan as a student, as a colleague who was wonderful with her students, and as a friend. We so admired her strength and her positivity. Our conversations with her ranged from light and fun to deep and philosophical. Her giggle was infectious. She has touched the lives of so many and we are all better people because of her. She remained strong for so long and now she can rest. We hope your loving memories of her can carry you through the rough days ahead. Our sincere sympathy to you.

  6. Joan was a constant inspiration! She was in yoga classes with me several years ago and her positive, cheerful personality was always appreciated! Her laugh was contagious and I always looked forward to seeing her and talking with her.
    What I always saw in her was a strong fighter who possessed grace and hope and positivity. I was so very glad to know her and offer my deepest condolences to her family.

  7. There’s nothing better than having that wonderful relationship with your Mother. Nothing worse as when the day they are taken from us, from life as we know it. Different to have to live without them. We still have memories, pictures and all the ways they show love. Your Mom fought the battle of ovarian cancer as my Mom did. Mine passed after 9 years of fighting. Know I’m thinking about you & praying you feel the love, comfort and peace of God always 🥰

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