Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Katherine Vanden Hout, it is easy to see both her unwavering strength and her unconditional love for her family. She was a shining example of kindness and generosity, and her unshakeable faith formed the foundation of all that she did. Nothing brought Kay greater joy than spending time with her loved ones. Her primary focus in life was fostering deep and personal relationships with those around her. Deeply loved, Kay will be forever missed by those who knew her best.
The 1930s are remembered as a troubling decade for the United States. The Great Depression had a devastating hold on the nation, and many families struggled to pull together and make ends meet. It was during this tumultuous time that Edwin and Della (Payette) Fagerman of Grand Rapids, Michigan, were eagerly anticipating the arrival of their baby. On October 7, 1934, their wait was over, and they welcomed their daughter, Katherine Elvera, into the world.
Growing up, Kay was a typical young girl of her generation in many ways. She was raised in the family home on Turner Avenue NW in Grand Rapids alongside her siblings, Gus, and Terry. Throughout her childhood, Kay was very close with her siblings. Her father, Edwin, supported the family by working for Chevrolet while her mother, Della, babysat and worked as a housekeeper while also caring for her own home and family. Growing up during WWII was not easy for Kay and her siblings. Like many other families across the nation, they faced strict rationing, but they always tried to make the best of their situation. Whenever their parents went to the store, Kay and her siblings would rush to make and eat homemade fudge before their parents returned. Often, the children would hide it to eat later and forget about it. Holidays were spent with family. Kay attended local schools, including Turner Elementary School, Harrison Middle School, and Union High School.
New and exciting changes were on the horizon for Kay as she met the man who would soon become the love of her life. His name was Gerald Vanden Hout, and the two first met at a wedding. He was working at American Seating at the time. Kay and Gerald sensed an instant spark between them. They dated for about five months, and their relationship continued to blossom into something truly special. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Kay and Gerald were married at City Hall. The newlyweds then settled down into their first home together, an apartment on Turner Avenue NE, before moving to their longtime home on Swensberg Avenue NE.
All who knew Kay can surely agree that, of all the things she loved in life, she treasured her family above all else. She and Gerald welcomed their three beloved children, Ann Marie, Gale Ann, and Gerald Walter, into their hearts and home. Kay truly thrived in her role as a mother. She always supported her children in their activities, sports, and concerts, and she was their biggest cheerleader. Later in life, Kay was thrilled to become a grandmother and even a great-grandmother as well. She adored her grandchildren and doted on them whenever she could. Kay always considered herself blessed to watch her family tree grow to include so many loved ones.
Over the years, the Vanden Hout family enjoyed traveling across the state and the country. The Fagerman cottage on Blue Lake in Bitely, Michigan, was the backdrop of countless family memories. They also traveled to Traverse City, Mackinac Island, Mammoth Cave, Cedar Point, and Tennessee. Later on, Kay enjoyed traveling to the Upper Peninsula and visiting her sister in North Carolina. She also liked taking bus trips to Branson, Dollywood, and visiting the cottage on Lake Cecilia.
Never one to sit still for long, Kay pursued many hobbies to stay busy in her free time. She was a dedicated member of First Presbyterian Church until it closed, then switched to Oakhill Church. Kay was very involved in her church and served as a deacon. She also volunteered at a local food bank, pouring back into her community. Kay was an amazing cook and enjoyed making soups for herself and her loved ones. She had a creative streak and liked to paint with oils and watercolors. Kay was an avid reader of Christian fiction. Her most prized possessions were her Bible and her father’s pocket watch. Kay was an excellent seamstress, and she made many articles of clothing for herself and her children. She enjoyed listening to country music, attending pops concerts, and watching musicals like the Sound of Music.
As family and friends can certainly attest, Katherine Vanden Hout truly understood the secret to a life well lived. She was a constant source of strength, even in the most difficult of times. A devoted wife, mother, and grandmother, Kay was a friend to many and beloved by all. She was always willing to go above and beyond to serve those around her, and she exemplified what it meant to live a life of love, faith, and generosity. Though she will be dearly missed, Kay leaves behind a priceless legacy that her loved ones will be proud to carry on in her footsteps.
Katherine Elvera (Fagerman) Vanden Hout, age 89, passed away January 16, 2024. Kay was born October 7, 1934 in Grand Rapids to the late Edwin and Della (Payette) Fagerman. She was also preceded in death by her husband, Gerald Vanden Hout; sister, Betty Jacot; and sister-in-law, Carrie Fagerman. Kay was a member of First Presbyterian Church, then Oakhill Church and resided at Clark Home since 2013. She loved sewing, water color painting, reading, time spent at the cottage near Baldwin, cooking and playing cards. But her greatest joy was her family and sharing her faith with others. Kay is survived by her children, Ann (Mike) Moon, Gale (Tom) Donald, Gerald (Dianne) Vanden Hout; grandchildren, Matt Moon, Stephanie (Rhett Kirgis) Moon, Kate (Ryan) Moore, Jon (Anni) Donald, Lisa (Tom) Whiteley, Brandon Vanden Hout, Chris Vanden Hout; great grandchildren, Selah, Jonah, Katelyn, Noah, Riley, and Zoie. She is also survived by her brothers, Gus and Norma Fagerman, Terry Fagerman; and several nieces and nephews. Interment is in Rosedale Memorial Park. A private family service will be held. Memorials may be made to Clark Foundation Benevolent Fund or Emmanuel Hospice. www.heritagelifestory.com