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School on Wheels
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Life Story / Obituary
Dee Vaupel was a cheerful, loving person and lived her life with positivity and grace. She loved her family and enjoyed spending time with them. She was a talented artist, enjoyed games of all kinds and was a people person. Dee brought a special energy into a room with her kind words, quick wit and loving actions. Dee had a saying for every occasion, and the saying, “To know her was to love her” is an accurate description of her.
Dee was born at her grandmother’s house in Evart, Michigan on April 29, 1943 to Fred and Ollie Heuschele. She spent her childhood years in Grand Rapids with her parents and her siblings Diana, Dale and Dennis. Dee was active in band and graduated from Godwin Heights High School in 1961. Upon high school graduation she continued her education at Michigan State University where she earned a degree in teaching. She also met her future husband, Paul Vaupel while attending Michigan State.
After graduation from college Dee taught English and drama for several years at Charlotte Public schools. She married Paul on June 21, 1968 in Wyoming Michigan. Paul served in the Army and they moved to El Paso, Texas where Paul was stationed. Dee worked as a teacher there for the first year of marriage. On July 21, 1969 they welcomed Sherry into the world and Dee became a stay at home mother to raise her family. The family moved to Germany in 1971 and Kim was born on February 21, 1972. Dee poured herself into raising her family and she was a wonderful mother to her daughters. She was always so proud of their accomplishments, whether it was academic, musical or sports related. Dee was their biggest fan. Dee also passionately loved her grandchildren and was so proud of what they achieved. She loved to visit with them and she was not only a grandmother, but a friend.
Dee and Paul traveled extensively during Paul’s time in the army. They moved numerous times: back to El Paso, back to Germany and to Massachusetts. Dee enjoyed exploring the areas where they lived and embraced learning about the people and places where they were stationed. The family frequently took day trips, learning about different places and the cultures where they lived. They traveled around Europe and throughout the New England States. Dee learned Spanish and German during this time. Upon Paul’s retirement from the Army, they moved back to Michigan where she lived with Paul until his passing in June, 2006.
Dee was a talented artist and painted beautiful pictures in oil paint. She also loved flowers and worked at several nurseries while raising her family. Eventually she combined her gift for art with flowers and became a florist. She worked as a florist for several years in and went on to become a business owner of Schoeder’s House of Flowers in Howell, MI. She ran her business while her girls were in high school and eventually sold the business to enjoy more free time. After working for several more years as a florist, Dee eventually retired.
Dee also enjoyed decorating and her homes were always beautifully appointed. She always believed in leaving things better than you received them and her homes were testament to that. She always had beautiful flower beds and her homes were tastefully decorated. She especially loved decorating for Christmas and her home felt magical during the holidays. She has been part of numerous home renovations over the years and has always made her homes a showcase of style.
Another activity that Dee liked was bowling. She had bowled for years and was part of various leagues. She was an accomplished bowler. It was during bowling that Dee met her longtime partner, Gary Cooper who is also an avid bowler.
They found that they had more than bowling in common and spent many years together. Dee and Gary moved down to The Villages in Florida for several years before returning to live again in Michigan. They both enjoyed traveling and explored the country together, helping her to accomplish the feat of being in all 50 states. During their time together they moved 4 times, each time improving the homes they lived in and enjoying what each area had to offer. They enjoyed many laughs together.
Dee passed away on December 28, 2022 after a rapid decline in her health. She was preceded in death by her parents, Fred and Ollie Heuschele, her husband of 38 years, Paul Vaupel, her sister Diana Gates and her brother Dennis Heuschele. Dee is survived by her daughters Sherry Nicole (Christoph) Hintze of North Carolina and Kimberly Susan Poma of Colorado; her five grandchildren Sabrina (Anthony) Guimond, Samantha Poma (Cody Edwards), Philip Poma, Gray Hintze and Paul Hintze, her longtime partner Gary Cooper and her brother Dale (Elma) Heuschele.
Dee lived a joyous life and always had a positive outlook. She touched so many lives and brightened the days of everyone she met. She was a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, partner and friend. Although she will be dearly missed, those whose lives she touched are fortunate.
The Memorial Service will be held at noon on Sunday, January 15, 2023 at Alt and Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504. Visitation will be for one hour prior to the service. Contributions in her memory may be made to Schools on Wheels. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to read her life story, submit a favorite memory or photo or to sign the guestbook.