On December 11, 2020, the eternal choir of Heaven welcomed Audrey J. Tuinstra into its presence.
Audrey was born on January 29, 1933 on the south side of Chicago to John and Eleanor Jackson. Although she was surrounded by a great number of extended family, she only had one brother, Bradley. The most influential person in her life while growing up was her grandmother, Frances Hilberger, who spoke only Polish. As a child Audrey enjoyed playing street games with her friends during the summer months and attending White Sox baseball games with her father.
She attended Lindbloom High School where singing soon became her lifelong passion. What she enjoyed most about this time was her friends and participating in the choir. In her junior year she began conducting a children’s choir at a local Methodist church. Her favorite teen idols were Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. Audrey’s lifelong dream was to become a teacher. She attended the Chicago Teacher’s College of Chicago for only a short time and then began to work for Illinois Bell while continuing to freelance as a soloist and sing in the church choir.
While Audrey was studying voice, she met her husband-to-be, John Tuinstra. They were married at the Methodist Church on 55th Ave. in Evergreen Park on March 20, 1954. In the 1960’s they moved from Chicago to Whitewater where John Jr. helped John Sr. with the landscape/farming business which John Jr. maintained throughout his life. Audrey assisted him in the business handling paperwork, scheduling appointments, performing other duties, and raising four children. Both she and John continued to be musically active in the community maintaining close ties with many performance opportunities through the university. They passed the legacy of their love of music and animals to each of their four children.
When Merrilee and Jay were in their late elementary years, Audrey began her food service career at the Delta Zeta sorority which eventually led to a full-time position at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she worked until her retirement. She continued her love for cooking and students by volunteering for the College Luncheons and after school programs at the First United Methodist Church in Whitewater. Audrey took great pride in updating the “Cradle Roll” of the church and sang in the church choir for over 50 years. FUMC choir director Christine Hayes commented, “Her full sound lifted the soprano section and her solo passages, which she quietly accepted when asked, were exquisite in delivery. I stood in awe of her voice that I could only dream of having. Audrey’s dedication to the choir was boundless.” Audrey’s favorite times of the week were Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. She also treasured having a captive audience to tell her jokes.
The family wishes to thank the nurses and staff at Fairhaven for their care and dedication, to the many lifelong friends who have reached out, and to FUMC for their support.
Nitardy Funeral Home assisted the family with arrangements. Online condolences can be made at www.nitardyfuneralhome.com