We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Memorial Alternatives
Harriett Ann Bieri-Keast (Criswell), of Grand Rapids, passed away on August 7, 2021 at the age of 78. She will be dearly missed by her loving family, including her sisters Susan (Joe) and Lynn (Chuck), son Thomas (Akiko), son Scott (d.1966), daughter Deborah (John), son Michael (Gail), her grandchildren Joseph, Leah, Zachary, Daniel and Elijah, her three great grandchildren Octavio, Aniyah, and MiaBella, and other extended family.
Harriett was a proud graduate of Blodgett Nursing School and she never stopped actively learning. Professionally, she was committed to patient care and became actively involved in improving and creating better systems for care of the elderly. In addition to working as a nurse in hospital and nursing home settings, she was one of the original founders of the Michigan Medicaid Waiver program. Later she co-developed and delivered an educational series to over 400 Medicaid Waiver Case Managers throughout Michigan, helping them to support waiver recipients in making informed decisions about care based on best practices and individual values. Her care for people was also evidenced by her work in Job Corps, where she helped motivated but socially disadvantaged people gain skills and certifications that would help them launch productive careers. She became a nursing case manager, focused primarily on supporting accident patients, in the later years of her career. She remained active in patient support even after retirement, volunteering regularly at Blodgett Hospital.
Harriett developed a love of travel and adventure from an early age, visiting many parts of the USA with her family. Iowa and Montana in particular always held special places in her heart. Travel and enjoyment of nature continued with her former husband, Michael, and their three children, and in later years included extensive domestic and international travel with her children, their spouses, and her grandchildren. She loved to combine travel with formal learning about the culture and the natural environment of where she visited, as well as with volunteer activities in her destinations. She also loved reading books, playing and listening to music, tending her garden, watching sports, and attending the theater. She actively shared these loves with her family and friends. She did all she could to support her grandchildren and great-grandchildren in all their interests and endeavors, whether it was cheering them on at sports games, attending performances, joining cooking classes, taking them to places near and far where they could learn and experience new things, or just spending time talking to them.
Harriett combined many of her loves with a desire to contribute to a better world by volunteering. She was a member of P.E.O. International, a philanthropic organization promoting educational opportunities for women, for nearly 60 years. She and husband Michael supported troubled or disadvantaged youth through volunteering at the Youth Commonwealth Seidman Center and through taking in several foster children. She promoted education, as well as supported her grandsons and their friends, through volunteering at Grand Rapids Public Schools in support of Academic Games.
Harriett will be remembered as a quiet but strong force, committed to supporting others and bettering society, and dedicated to her family. Her greatest legacies are the memories of shared times, the appreciation she fostered for the activities that she loved, and the passing on of her values and best qualities to many others.
Based on her wishes, there will be no public memorial. We would ask that you honor her memory in your own way. In lieu of flowers or other gifts for the family, please consider volunteering or donating to environmental, youth or elder support organizations, or to Kindred Hospice who helped provide excellent care and support in her last days.