Cover photo for Hope Leatrice DeKorte's Obituary
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1922 Hope Leatrice DeKorte 2024

Hope Leatrice DeKorte

April 4, 1922 — June 8, 2024

Kalamazoo, Michigan

Hope Leatrice (Longjohn) DeKorte of Kalamazoo, Michigan, died on June 8, 2024, at the age of 102. Hope was born in Kalamazoo on April 4, 1922, to the late William and Hazel (Allen) Longjohn. In 1971, Hope married Neal DeKorte. The two were married 25 years until Neal’s death in 1996.

In her early life, Hope graduated from Central High School, then went on to attain a degree in business from Western Michigan University. After college, Hope spent a remarkable 48 years working as an Executive Secretary for the Upjohn Company. 

Hope was known for her legendary white Cadillac. She loved to drive and wasn’t afraid to let the horses under the hood test the speed limit. When her little brother was 12 years old, with the promise of not telling their father, Hope taught him to drive. This lesson made a lasting impression on her brother, as he remained a lifelong race car fan.

As time went on, Hope developed a foot condition that accompanied weakness in her leg, and it became necessary for her to use a cane. Hope would not be satisfied with any cane – it had to be stylish and feminine. When the time came for her to upgrade to a walker, a cute sign, made by her brother, adorned the front of it - it read “Hope DeKorte’s Roadrunner” with a picture of the iconic cartoon character. Eventually, she moved to a wheelchair, which she deemed her “new Cadillac”. Undaunted as always, Hope accepted it all with tranquility, smiles, and humor.

Wherever Hope ventured, whether near or far, she was recognized and greeted by someone who knew her. Cole Gilmore’s, where Hope purchased her vehicles, would roll out the red carpet when she pulled in. Clerks in stores would give her a hug and strike up a joyful conversation. The employees where she did her banking would always treat her like royalty, and she, in turn, would leave them with her trademark peppermint candy. In her favorite clothing shops, she would be waited on like a queen – not because she expected to receive special treatment, but because she was loved by so many. Hope never counted her popularity as anything unusual. She simply enjoyed people and lived to bring joy to others.

Since its beginning in Kalamazoo, Hope was a faithful member of Calvary Bible Church. After retiring from the Upjohn Company, the church was her home away from home. When her brother couldn’t find her, he knew she would be in one of two places – Calvary Church or shopping in Shipshewana.

Hope was an active member of the Young at Heart group at Calvary and would be sure that every group meeting was decorated appropriately for the occasion. The group often sponsored bus trips. Hope anticipated these trips with enthusiasm – especially the trips to Clementine's in South Haven. Hope’s favorite dish was their famous onion rings. She never had much of an appetite until that stack of onion rings appeared. 

Although she didn’t have children of her own, Hope loved everyone else’s children, and the young at church (and everywhere else she went) had an attraction to her youthful and joyous character. She was the fun, favorite aunt to all her nieces and nephews. Memorable excursions and the best birthday and Christmas gifts were a hallmark of her generous spirit. When Aunt Hope drove in, everyone knew there was a good time in store.

It is difficult to say just a few words about someone like Hope. How can anyone capture such a personality - such a life - in just a few words? All who knew her can attest to what a remarkable woman she was. Hope would want to be remembered for her love of God, family, friends, and our country. This love was not just words spoken but lived throughout her life.

Hope is survived by her sister-in-law, Joan Longjohn; nephews, David (Yuan) Longjohn, Steven Longjohn, Dan (Heather) Longjohn, Dan (Andi) Benke; nieces, Mary (Erik) McConnell, Colleen (Mike) Yonge, Lynda (Larry) Jones, Pam (Terry) Noel; and many great-nieces and nephews and their children. 

Hope was preceded in death by her beloved husband; her parents; siblings, Peter, Sidney, LeEtta (Bill) Benke, Edythe (Darl) Eley; stepchildren, Paul (Julie) DeKorte and Marsha DeKorte. 

A funeral service will be held at 11:00 am on Wednesday, June 19th, at Calvary Bible Church, 855 S Drake Rd, Kalamazoo, MI 49009. The family will be welcoming guests for visitation beginning at 10:00 am. Interment will be on Thursday, June 20th, at 10:00 am at Mt. Ever-Rest Memorial Park North, 1717 N Drake Rd, Kalamazoo, MI 49006.

Memorial contributions may be made in Hope’s honor to Right to Life of Michigan, Samaritan’s Purse, and Calvary Bible Church.

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Wednesday, June 19, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Thursday, June 20, 2024

10:00 - 10:30 am (Eastern time)

Mt. Ever Rest Memorial Park North

1717 N Drake Rd, Kalamazoo, MI 49006

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