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Life Story / Obituary
Evelyn's life provided great love, extensive travel, and a full appreciation of family and friends. She was a loving wife, a caring mother, and a cherished grandmother and friend to many. We will hold our shared memories close, as we find comfort knowing Evelyn has found peace.
Evelyn began her life in 1924. This was a year that made its mark in history with several firsts. The United States launched its first regular airmail services. Additionally, the world celebrated the first Winter Olympic games in France. Also up in the skies, the U.S. Army celebrated two planes completing the first round-the-world flight in 175 days. On the surface of the Earth, New York City held the first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Life was good for many reasons.
On August 26, 1924, Evelyn joined the world. She was the daughter of dairy farmers in the great state of Iowa. Evelyn and her family eventually moved to Michigan.
She spent her childhood creating many warm memories. She fondly spoke of her father, who took great care of her family and was a wonderful provider. She learned the value of hard work as she helped sell the fruits and vegetables on their roadside stand. With her siblings, they explored and learned about the world while playing and becoming good people.
As Evelyn matured, the National Honor Society inducted her as a member. She maintained good grades and enjoyed a fruitful social calendar. She eventually graduated from Godwin Heights High School in the Grand Rapids area. After receiving her diploma, she continued her education, earning a bachelor's degree.
In time, she found love when she met Joseph Van Ek. They were a happy couple and married on July 26, 1946 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was just nine months later that they celebrated the birth of their first son, Richard "Rick." Soon, Rick was followed by Mike, Linda, Lavonne, and Carol to complete their family.
Joe and Evelyn raised their children in the Grand Rapids area before moving to Kalamazoo. Joe supported the family working as a builder. Evelyn happily stayed home, keeping the house comfortable and the children happy. Evelyn did work for a short time, but she spent most of her time at home because Joe was proud and wanted her home.
She did well in the home, as she loved to cook for the family. Her apple pies were one of the family’s favorites. She also made delicious salads and Jellos. Evelyn had a talent for making something plain taste delightful.
Her cooking skills paired well with her abilities to keep a house in order. She had quite simple tastes, and the home decor was minimal with just a few knick-knacks. She enjoyed dusting, waxing, vacuuming, and the daily laundry, and was an excellent house keeper. It was near impossible to spot a cobweb in her house.
Evelyn's talents in sewing and crocheting were remarkable. Evelyn often made all of the holiday dresses, including hats and matching accessories. She and her daughter, Linda, did many crafts together, including painting ceramics and making dolls.
She kept up on her appearance throughout her life. Regular hair appointments, nice clothes (the more sparkles, the better!), and trips to Steinmart, among other stores, kept her in style. Her daughters, Lavonne and Carol, were her clothes shopping friends and support.
In life, Evelyn participated in many activities. In the warmer months, she tended to her beautiful flower gardens. She had skills at the bowling alley where she played in a league. Summertime baseball games were apt to be on the radio or TV, for Evelyn was an avid Detroit Tigers fan.
Though Evelyn enjoyed her opportunities to be social due to her confident spirit, she also enjoyed the quiet moments in life. When these moments presented themselves, she found joy in watching birds, especially Baltimore Orioles and hummingbirds. Reading was another favorite past time, and romance novels were her favorite. A good book with a Diet Coke and a cookie or two made for an enjoyable evening.
Joe and Evelyn shared a happy life for 67 years. Earlier on, they loved riding on Joe's Harley motorcycle - sometimes in groups and occasionally alone enjoying the countryside. Snowmobiling was another activity they enjoyed. They also traveled to all 50 states in their lifetime together. Alaska captivated their stay for two months. Evelyn also accompanied Joe on a trip to Europe, visiting where Joe landed the day after D Day.
As they grew older, they wintered in Englewood, Florida, for many years. Their social life was full, and they enjoyed the warmth with many good friends. Their marriage worked because they both honored their roles as husband and wife.
They celebrated the blessing of grandchildren too. Evelyn adored her 8 grandchildren and her 11 great-grandchildren, spoiling them. Once, she even bought the oldest granddaughter a pony!
Evelyn and Joe celebrated a lovely life together. Sadly, Joe passed away in 2013. This was a challenging time for Evelyn, but she leaned on the support of family and friends. In time, she found the goodness in life again.
Over the last few years, she lived with Rick and Debbie and loved their two cats. The last two years she had been living with Lavonne and David in North Carolina.
After 95 years of life, Evelyn passed away peacefully at Melbane Ridge Assisted Living in North Carolina. We will miss her presence in our lives, but we will never forget her.
Members of her family include 5 children: Rick (Debbie) Van Ek, Mike (Judy) Van Ek, Linda (Jerry) Menck, Lavonne (David) Fox and Carol (Mark) Wright; 8 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Visit with family and friends on Friday (Dec. 6) from 10 AM until service time at 11 AM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. A luncheon will follow in the Life Story Center. Burial at Mt. Ever Rest North Cemetery. Please visit Evelyn's personal web page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you can read her story, archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Southern Care Hospice of Michigan.