Obituary for Nicolaas Jacob Tensen

Nicolaas Jacob Tensen

Birth Date: Apr. 27th, 1931
Date Passed: Jul. 3rd, 2020


Nicolaas (Nick) Jacob Tensen went to his lord on Friday, July 3rd, 2020. Defined by family, faith, and farming, he will be fondly remembered by his family, friends, and communities in the Netherlands, Canada; and Ravenna, Michigan. Born on the farm of his youth in Groote Keeten, the Netherlands; on April 27th, 1931, he was a farmer from his childhood to the day of his death. He lived a full life and peacefully passed the way he spent his happiest days: working on the farm that he built.Nick’s passion for agriculture and growing food was genuine, and shaped by his experiences growing up in the Netherlands under Nazi occupation during WWII. He often spoke of the horror of watching people suffering from starvation, and as a result he had a deep appreciation for the food from his family’s farm. One of his most memorable days from that time was when his town was freed from the Nazis by the Canadian army, and a soldier handed him a banana from a tank. Every day he could for the rest of his life, Nick would eat a banana. In his later years he shared more stories about the war, both good and bad. Shaped by his horrific childhood experiences, he sincerely valued the veterans of his countries. Nick and his wife Gerrie Tensen (née Doppenberg) met when they were nineteen. They were deeply in love throughout their long marriage. He missed her greatly after her passing in 2018. Whenever visiting his childhood village, he tried to stop by the bridge where he saw Gerrie for the first time. After the war, Nick and Gerrie emigrated from the Netherlands to Canada. Nicolaas spoke of the pleasure of driving delivery trucks and farming in Ontario. In 1961 Nick, Gerrie, and their first three children were sponsored by Gerrie’s sister and brother-in-law—Bernice and Jerry Kass—and legally immigrated to Michigan. In 1964 their youngest child was born an American citizen. With few resources, Nick and Gerrie began their own dairy farm: Tensen Acres, where they would farm well over 1000 acres with over 500 head of cattle. A respected farmer, he was recognized with awards such as the Muskegon County Conservation Farm of the Year (2000); Muskegon County Environmental Excellence for Agricultural Stewardship (2001); and Muskegon County Farm Bureau Distinguished Services Award (2003). Nick was also featured in Successful Farming magazine(1994). He has served as the president of Muskegon County Farm Bureau, was on the board of the Muskegon County DHIA (Dairy Herd Improvement Association) and was the president of the Muskegon County Soil Conservation Board. Nick served as a 4-H leader and dairy superintendent at the Muskegon County Fair. He received awards for high milk production, often having the top herd in the country. He was an excellent Dutch dairy farmer and a good cow man. Nick was active in the First Reformed Church of Ravenna. He helped build the present sanctuary shortly after he and his family emigrated from Canada. A faithful member, he attended almost every Sunday he could. Over the years he served as a Deacon and an Elder. Nick served his community in many ways. He also served as a Trustee and Supervisor for Ravenna Township for a combined total of 36 years. Ravenna’s acceptance of him—an immigrant—as an elected official was something Nick truly treasured. Nick was also proud that he was able to have voted in all three of the countries he lived in. Nicolaas was preceded in death by his wife, Gerrie Tensen; parents Klaas Tensen and Gerritje Visser; son-in-law Dale (Margret) Link, sisters-in-law Grietje and Nin Doppenberg and brothers-in-law Jan Geertsema, Rob Leegwater; Lubbert, Wim, Gerrit, Jan and Arend Doppenberg. Nicolaas is survived by children Margret (Rick) Kingsbury and Geraldine (Arden) Eadie from Conklin, MI; Nicholas (Kathy) Tensen from Effingham, IL; and Arend (Paula) Tensen from Lyme, NH; sisters Annie Geertsema-Tensen, Trudy Leegwater-Tensen; brother Dick (Ellen) Tensen; sister-in-law Bernice (Jerry) Kass; sisters-in-law Janet, Norma, and Leona Doppernberg; and his twenty grandchildren, fourteen great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. Memorials: Ravenna Area Fire Department or First Reformed Church of Ravenna.


6:00pm to 8:00pm on
Jul. 11th, 2020 at First Reformed Church
Map/Directions to First Reformed Church


2:00pm on Jul. 12th, 2020 at First Reformed Church
Map/Directions to First Reformed Church


2:00pm on Jul. 6th, 2020 at
Ravenna Township Cemetery
Map/Directions to Ravenna Township Cemetery