Lynn Marie Hamstra was many things to many people: a brave warrior, a loving wife, a mother and grandmother, a zealous disciple of the arts, a generous and kind friend. She was as unique as she was authentic. She lived her life with love and purpose and was an extraordinarily bright light to all she touched. Her spirit found meaning in nuance, individuality, creativity, and spirituality.
Lynn passed away peacefully in her sleep on March 26, 2022 after living with pancreatic cancer for four and a half years. She spent her final days surrounded by those dearest to her, conveying her love and appreciation to each person by her bedside.
Lynn was born in Chicago on April 19, 1961 to Lawrence Raymond Coffey, Jr., and Adeline Frances Coffey. The oldest of five, she was a sweet, caring, and nurturing sister. Her moral compass always pointed north, and her siblings proudly called her “Big Sis.” Every summer Lynn went camping with her family in Wisconsin, Colorado, or Wyoming. Despite an extraordinarily close call with a bear, her love of the outdoors continued the rest of her life. She and her husband, Dan, took their children camping every summer and instilled an appreciation of nature in each child.
A cheerleader in high school, Lynn cheered at her brother Larry’s games and coached her sisters, Laura and Lee, to join the team cheer squad. She taught her youngest brother Tony the entire French alphabet by the time he was five. She loved Pink Floyd but would still pray over her sisters the morning after a high school party. Lynn’s capacity for depth and sincerity matured early as did her skills in the kitchen. She was known to make the best fudge in the family. In later years, her own children would delightedly watch their mother make batch after batch of fudge. She never settled for anything less than perfection.
Lynn graduated from Hinsdale Central in 1979 and attended Purdue University to study electrical engineering. Her discipline and dedication led her to excel in a male-dominated field. After graduation in 1984, Lynn wore a hardhat to work every day at Commonwealth Edison.
During this time, Lynn met the love of her life, Daniel Lee Hamstra. Her siblings knew Dan before she did. Her brother Larry had played baseball with Dan at the University of Illinois, and after learning Dan would trade nights partying for leading FCA meetings, the siblings agreed, “Boy, do we have a sister for you!” Lynn was watching from the stands on April 7 when Dan pitched a no-hitter, the only one of his career. Lynn had been waiting to introduce herself. Within six months, Lynn and Dan were dating. Some of Lynn’s fondest memories of Dan’s baseball career were spring training in Arizona and driving around Iowa and cheering for him. A treasured moment she always recounted was when they stopped at a tiny white chapel on a pleasant spring day. Her eye and appreciation for detail and beauty, as in the chapel, color the memories of her life. Lynn’s brother Tony had been ordered by his father to go bother any boyfriend that came around his sisters, but for Dan, he was ordered to stand down. Lynn and Dan were married on July 26, 1986.
The love between Lynn and Dan only strengthened with time. During 35 years of marriage, they were often told how inspiring their love was to others. One shining example of their joyful relationship was ballroom dancing. They continued these classes for more than 10 years, a reflection of how much Lynn and Dan valued spending time together. Throughout these classes and their life, they smiled and laughed whenever together. They were truly best friends.
In February, 1988, the Hamstra’s had their first child, Rachel Marie Hamstra. When Rachel was born, Lynn’s sister Laura was obsessed with babysitting. Lynn made Laura a homemade pizza every time she came over, even though Laura clearly didn’t need a bribe to babysit.
In July, 1989, Lynn and Dan had a second child, Timothy Lee Hamstra. Shortly after, they moved the family to London where Lynn’s lifelong love of tea and scones began. Her sister Laura, her mother Adeline, and her grandmother came to London for a visit, and Lynn joyfully took them to Harrods for tea and scones, as well as, cooking a feast every day — homemade pancakes, muffins, and waffles. The family returned to the US in 1992 and settled outside of Dallas.
In July, 1995, Zachariah Andrew Hamstra was born. These years raising her three children were some of Lynn’s fondest. She loved them well and dearly and had strong, unique relationships with each. Lynn made an effort to always be available and to understand and appreciate their passions. She often knew her children better than they knew themselves, always citing her intuition.
For Rachel, Lynn passed on her strong laugh and convictions. She taught Rachel early that Rachel could do things on her own with the mantra, “I am not an encyclopedia, look that up yourself.” She also told Rachel nightly that she could be whatever she wanted when she grew up, even president. As the only daughter, Rachel and Lynn did not always see eye to eye, but that always made their relationship stronger. They enjoyed spending time together, whether it was over a cup of tea at TeaHaus in Ann Arbor, on the phone for a morning chat, or on a trip to Nordstrom. One of Rachel’s favorite memories is of their trip to New York City in 2010. This was the first time either of them had visited the city, so they diligently planned each day, filling the trip with restaurant visits across Manhattan, Broadway shows, and, of course, lots of shopping. The trip was so perfect, Rachel ended up moving to NYC soon after. Another fond, recent memory that Rachel will cherish was the time Lynn and new granddaughter Olivia spent together. Lynn was a baby whisperer, and even though she was quite sick by the time Olivia came into the world, she was still able to tell Rachel from the couch, with eyes closed, exactly what Olivia needed when new-mother Rachel couldn’t figure it out.
For Tim, Lynn passed on her passion and her intuition. As far back as he can remember, his mother would block off a little time in the week for the two of them to chat. Early on, it was Saturday mornings at their favorite donut shop. In high school, he would sit at the kitchen table while she cooked, snacking on Oreos and milks and answering her intuitive questions about his day. In his college years, Lynn and Tim would drive two hours to meet each other for lunch on Sundays so Lynn could hear about Tim’s week. In her last years, Lynn insisted that Tim come to their house for potatoes and eggs every Sunday morning for life chats. They also spent countless hours together in her kitchen where she taught Tim her cooking secrets. He was the only one in the family that could handle her meticulous, almost militaristic culinary vision.
For Zach, Lynn passed on her energy and creativity. From an early age, Lynn’s love of running was reflected in Zach. He would wake up and run to the breakfast table, he would run to annoy his older siblings, and he would run to his bed when it was time to sleep. She encouraged his imagination, curiosity, and divergent thinking. When Zach became interested in ancient Egyptian burial practices in elementary school, Lynn took him to a Queen Hatshepsut exhibit and permitted him to mummify and bury a chicken in the backyard. When Zach began art lessons in middle school, Lynn took lessons with him. When he began his running career, she introduced him to mindfulness as a way to remain present both in competition and life. Lynn would remain Zach’s biggest supporter as he began running collegiate track and cross country. In her last years, Lynn supported his rekindled painting hobby, helping him to varnish his mediocre paintings.
Lynn’s caring nature extended to all in her life. In 2002, she spent two months caring for her sister Lee while Lee fought leukemia. On one occasion, a nurse mixed up Lee’s medications which triggered Lynn’s fierce and protective side. All 5’3” of Lynn cornered the distracted nurse and told her, in no uncertain terms, that this sort of error was entirely unacceptable. With the help of Lynn’s vigilance and unrelenting love, Lee overcame leukemia.
In 2004, Lynn was told by a doctor that she would never be able to run again. She did not listen. She began a rigorous and multi-faceted approach to health. She learned more about food and nutrition than most dieticians. She discovered mindfulness, yoga, acupuncture, and Muscle Activation Technique. Lynn believed in discipline which brought her a greater sense of self and a more realized being. Just seven years ago, she completed a half marathon (her second) with her kids by her side.
2008 was a pivotal year for Lynn. She began her Master of Liberal Studies at SMU with a concentration in Art History. A life-long, meticulous learner, she took more credits than were required before graduating in 2017. Lynn’s crowning achievement during her graduate work was her development of “Focused Looking,” a program at the Meadows Museum designed to help doctors to increase observation skills. In a session, Lynn would lead a one-hour observation and discussion in front of a single piece of art. The goal was to get participants to take a deeper look and feel and understand the emotions evoked by the artwork. One of the many positive reviews of the class highlights Lynn’s ability to connect with her students: “To stop and appreciate the details in flowers, buildings, people: there is beauty in everything, and I think we could all slow down in life to explore what is there and notice these things; I think it would calm our minds.”
Lynn brought a power of observation and appreciation of detail to her relationships. She saw everyone as beautiful, unique individual souls and never as a statistic or archetype. She never wanted things to be simple. She didn’t mind when things were complicated or messy because this made them real and powerful. She preferred ambiguity because it more accurately reflects the nuance and complexity of life. Lynn deeply appreciated one-on-one visiting time. This allowed her the chance to slow down, feel what the person in front of her was feeling, and offer her perspective. She was honest, emotional, and strong in her convictions. When she felt, she felt completely. When she thought, she thought completely, but she was always open to revising her stances; a true student of life.
Lynn Marie Hamstra will be remembered for her deep emotions, her energy, her smile, her sweet yet forceful nature, and her creativity. She was an artist and relationships were her medium.
Her proudest accomplishments: her children and her “Focused Looking” program.
Her favorite smells: blooming roses and baking cinnamon.
Her most cherished sights: her three children being born and growing up.
Her favorite travel memories: Paris, Spain, Greece, Italy, Jerusalem.
Her loves: her family, cooking, art.
Lynn is survived by her husband, Daniel Hamstra; her daughter, Rachel Hamstra LeMier; her son-in-law, Ryan LeMier; her granddaughter, Olivia Lynn LeMier; her sons, Timothy Hamstra and Zachariah Hamstra; her mother, Adeline Coffey; her sisters, Laura (Coffey) Girgis and Lee Ellen (Coffey) Wilson; and her brothers, Larry and Tony Coffey.