Remembering The West MI I 94 Crash Victims

Posted at 6:44 PM, Jan 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-24 19:04:55-05

Grand Rapids, Mich. — “This was Marilyn`s old classroom where she taught in the new building, 3rd grade,” said Bernice Wisnieski, showing us around Sibley Elementary.

Wisnieski is a family friend of the Marilyn and Thomas Wolma.

The Grand Rapids couple was killed in the crash Thursday evening on I 94 in Indiana.

Wisnieski said Marilyn Wolma was a well-loved teacher at Sibley Elementary, part of the Grand Rapids Public School System, until she retired a few years ago.

Wisnieski said both Marilyn and her husband Thomas were outgoing, fun spirits.

“Tom was an outstanding husband, father. He and Marilyn met at Calvin College and they settled here and raised their family and were just two o f the most wonderful giving people that I know,” said Bernice Wisnieski a 2nd grade teacher at Sibley.

With Wisnieski being a teacher herself, she said that Marilyn began looking out for her from the moment she set foot in the door at Sibley 16 years ago.

“Everyday I`d go to my mailbox and there would be some activities in my mailbox, suggestions for teaching, lessons, and they`d always say good luck from Marilyn Wolma,” she said.

It seemed for Marilyn that it was second nature for her to help others.

“I said, ‘Marilyn, you`re leaving me all this wonderful stuff,’ and she said ‘Why wouldn`t I?'”

“That`s how she was with everybody, her students, colleagues, family,” said Wisnieski.

She said that Marilyn was likely continuing that familiar giving spirit when that tragedy struck.

She said Marilyn was probably coming back from a trip to Wisconsin to care for her sister who had a hip replacement.

“This morning, a fleeting thought, knowing that she could still be traveling, I thought, ‘Oh no. I hope that`s not them’, but tragically it  was,” said Wisnieski.

We spoke with Daniel Wolma, Thomas’ brother, who said about the crash, “I lost my best friend.”

Some members of the family were just finding out about the extent of the crash Friday.

The Wolma’s three sons are now trying to make funeral arrangements.

“Marilyn was the type of person, if you lost a family member, she would be over with food. If you had an appointment, she`d say, ‘Can I take you?’ She was always the first to say, ‘What can I do for you?’,” said Wisnieski.

Wisnieski said despite the accident, she has a bright spot of hope from Marilyn herself.

“Marilyn was a believer,” said Wisnieski. “So, to know that her and her husband are both with the lord is comforting, her faith was the cornerstone of her life and she exemplified it with every step she took and every breath she took.”