Life Story / Obituary
Mickey Mathews was a loving wife, proud mother, and devoted grandmother. She enjoyed the company of people gathered together and no one was ever a stranger in her eyes. Mickey cherished her growing family and wanted nothing but the best for each and every one of them. The wonderful memories she leaves behind will forever be etched on the hearts of her many special friends and loved ones for generations to come.
Miriam Ruth arrived on December 10, 1928, on the brink of what would later be recognized as the turning point in the Great Depression in America. As unemployment rates began to decline, her loving parents, Dutch immigrants, Herman and Jean (Vander Zwaag) Van Oosten welcomed her into their loving arms at their home in Walker, Michigan. Born one of five children, her birth brought great joy to her family.
Growing up on Kinney Avenue, Mickey lived a typical childhood of the times. She loved to be adventurous and keep up with her brothers including climbing trees once falling and breaking her arm! Raised in a close-knit family they shared many family holidays together in her childhood home. Her parents instilled in her a solid foundation of faith which she leaned on throughout her life. She and her siblings enjoyed ice skating on Gleason’s pond and getting into their fair share of childhood mischief! Mickey also spent plenty of time in the kitchen with her mother learning how to bake pies and cookies, a pastime that stuck with her for many years. She was a proud graduate of Grand Rapids Union High School.
Not to be forgotten was the meeting of Tom Mathews. They were both clerks at Herpolsheimer's Department Store. Mickey worked in the lingerie department and Tom worked in jewelry. She was taking modeling classes at the time with Betty Bloomer, who later became the First Lady as Betty Ford! Set up on a blind date, Mickey and Tom spent their first date swimming at Myers Lake Park. He was struck by her natural beauty and the rest was history! They went on to date for a year until joining in marriage on September 3, 1948, at the Country House followed by a small reception. The happy couple honeymooned in Pennsylvania at a cabin owned by Tom’s family. Afterwards they settled back in Grand Rapids, in a small trailer on her parent’s property until Tom was drafted to serve in the United States Navy during the Korean War. When he was discharged, they purchased their first home on Kentfield Street in Wyoming, Michigan. Together they welcomed home their three wonderful children; Nancy Sue, Sally Jo, and Daniel Thomas.
As a family, they enjoyed making many lasting memories. They cherished taking countless summer vacations renting cottages at their favorite places including Elk Lake, Silver Lake, and White Lake in Montague. As their family grew, they later built their forever family home on Evansdale Street where they remained over the next forty years. Mickey treasured her role as a mother and was an active member of the school’s PTA. She attended and planned for many of their special school events over the years. Sports minded, she especially enjoyed following Dan’s athletic teams. Nothing brought her greater joy than to share in her children’s many successes.
Mickey held a wide variety of interests. She was a homemaker for several years, but returned to work later by working at Michigan Bulb Company. Throughout her life she enjoyed cheering on the Detroit Lions and the University of Michigan football teams as well as following politics. She kept herself informed on many issues and was never shy from letting others know her opinions on a wide variety of topics. Mickey was also an avid music fan and enjoyed listening mostly to Christian and gospel music. A woman of strong faith, she enjoyed reading her Bible and devotions daily. As a matter of fact, her greatest possession was her Bible as well as their family home. Mickey also cherished celebrating the holidays with her family. She would spend countless hours preparing which included baking her special Christmas cookies, Bankets (a Dutch pastry), mouth-watering pies, and wonderful peanut brittle. Born with an insatiable appetite for sweets, there were never enough in her opinion!
During their retirement years she and Tom enjoyed traveling. They especially grew fond of heading down to Fort Myers Beach, Florida and staying at the Dolphin Inn with their close friends. They later sold their family home and moved into a condominium where they shared many happy memories. During Mickey’s last two years, she lived at Grand Village Assisted Living where she made many new friends and received loving care from staff who simply adored her. Described as a friend to all and a second mother to many, Mickey lived her life as a beautiful example of Jesus’ teachings. May her loved ones always feel blessed by her love and may her warm memories be eternal.
Miriam “Mickey” Ruth Mathews [VanOosten], aged 91, of Grand Rapids, passed away on Sunday, May 31, 2020 and entered into eternal glory with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She was preceded in death by her husband of seventy years, Thomas R. Mathews, daughter-in-law, Lynn Mathews as well as her four siblings. Miriam is survived by her children; Nancy (Chris) Kay, Sally (Doug) Smith, Daniel Mathews and his fiance Jan Viglione; four grandchildren, Chad (Jennifer) Russ, Dr. Brian (Kris) Russ, Thomas (Megan) Russ and Mitchell Smith; six great grandchildren; many sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, and friends. She was a loving and dedicated wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and a friend to all who knew her. She will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered. Due to the current COVID-19 virus restrictions, Miriam will be laid to rest with Thomas during a private graveside service at Rosedale Memorial Park. To leave your own memory of her and to sign her guest book, visit her web page at www.heritagelifestory.com