SIOUX CENTER—A former Sioux Center resident and school board member died while on a trip to Italy.
Dori Groenendyk, 51, of Sioux Falls, SD, died suddenly Wednesday, Oct. 9, in Florence, Italy. She and her husband, Harry, had traveled to Italy to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.
Anne Elizabeth, a friend of the family, wrote in an Oct. 10 Facebook post: “ … Our friend, Dori Groenendyk, was critically injured after being hit by a bus in Italy and died yesterday. She and her husband were there on their anniversary, their four adult children were flown over … she was a leader at Community Bible Study and moved to South Dakota. Heaven indeed gained a jewel, but our shock and sorrow is great. Her love for Christ will never be forgotten.”
Visitation is noon-3 p.m. Friday, Oct, 25 followed by the funeral service at 3 p.m. at Community Reformed Church, 6800 E. 41st St., Sioux Falls, SD.
Funeral service details are through the Heritage Funeral Home in Sioux Falls.
She was born in Pierre, SD, and grew up throughout the upper Midwest, including Kansas City, MO; Mitchell, SD; and Orange City. She received her bachelor’s degrees in English from Dordt College in 1991 and her master’s in education from Covenant College in 2015.
“Hearing of her passing was truly hard news to hear,” said Dale Kraayenbrink. He and Groenendyk served on the board together for a couple years before he came off in 2009. Groenendyk is the one who threw him a retirement party. However, he ended up filling her spot on the board again after Groenendyk resigned from her position in May 2010.
Groenendyk served on the school board three years, 2007-10. She resigned as her husband took a job in Maryland. The couple, who have four children — Jake, Ellie, Jessan and Hannah — later moved to Sioux Falls.
“She left a lasting impression on Sioux Center while living here,” Kraayenbrink said.
School board president Tim Gesink was elected to the school board the same year as Groenendyk.
“Those first couple of years we were working on our board belief statements — the ones we say at the beginning of every board meeting and that are posted throughout the district today,” he said. “She gave input on those and really shaped those statements. She truly had a passionate heart for kids and education.”
Kraayenbrink said Groenendyk also showed her passion by teaming up with Lori Zomermaand, who was also on the school board at that time, to make meals for different groups of staff members.
“They made a breakfast for the bus drivers, the custodians — just different groups to say thank you,” Kraayenbrink said. “As a board, we wanted to do something like that but it took a woman’s touch, their touch, to make it happen and do it well.”
Kraayenbrink recalls Groenendyk joining him and his wife, Brenda, for drives to different school board related meetings in Des Moines.
“We never had the radio on,” he said. “We talked about kids, family, church, our lives, and it was so natural. She was so easy to talk to, so caring. We had a blast. She was a blast to have on the school board.”
Groenendyk has Multiple Sclerosis, Kraayenbrink said, and she was passionate about running as a way to keep her body healthy.
“Every time she went to Des Moines, she was always in search of the trails so she could run,” he said.
Kraayenbrink even remembers the exact date Dori and Harry Groenendyk got married.
“They got married June 10, 1989 — the same day as my sister,” said Kraayenbrink, who works in Co-op Gas & Oil service department. “I got to see Harry this summer when he stopped in with some tire issues. I got to wish him a happy 30th anniversary. He told me then about their trip to Italy, who was excited they were to celebrate this milestone in that way. It’s sad how it turned out. We’re praying for the family.”