Wednesday, January 31, 2024
10:00 AM EST
4575 Remembrance Rd NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Ottawa-North Kent Blue Star Mothers
Beautiful You By Profile
4669 Alpine Ave NW suite a
Comstock Park, MI 49321
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Jan VanderWal was known for her sincere compassion for others. A lover of all people, she enjoyed entertaining and spending time with family and friends. There was never a dull moment with Jan around! She loved to fill her days with laughter and fun. Gone too soon, Jan will be missed by all who knew and loved her.
The 1960s were characterized by great social changes. Midway through this decade in our nation’s history, The Vietnam War continued to worsen and there was great civil unrest, yet there was still promise. Exciting things were on the horizon with the St. Louis Arch being completed and The Beatles releasing four new albums. Janice Kay was born to a set of loving parents in the small Midwest town of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Born the youngest of four children, her birth brought great joy and happiness to the family home.
Growing up, Janice lived a typical childhood of the times, except for losing her mother at the tender age of eleven years old. Her father was a hard-working brick mason who owned his own company and supported the family. As a child, she took piano lessons and enjoyed swimming. They lived on Omaha Street in Grandville and attended Hope Christian Reformed Church. Her education matched her faith as Jan attended Grandville Christian through middle school and graduated with the Class of 1983 from Calvin Christian High School.
After high school, Jan entered the world of work as a nurse’s aide at Christian Rest Home. Her co-worker, Lois, set her up on a date with her twin brother, Lou. Smitten from the very start, they made plans to marry at Douglas Walker Park with a reception at the shelter house. It was a beautiful fall day after weeks of record-setting rain totals. The newlyweds honeymooned in northern Michigan’s beautiful Traverse City. They settled into their first home on Adams Street SE in Grand Rapids and later moved to the west side of town. Together, they raised two wonderful children, Karlee and Matthew.
As a mom, Jan was loving and caring. Active in her kids’ lives, she volunteered at their school and was always signed up for special events and fundraisers. The beauty of their growing years was knowing their home was the chosen spot for their friends to come and hang out as everyone loved Jan! As a family, they enjoy taking trips and camping for many years. A special highlight was a trip to Hawaii to visit their son Matt while he was in the service. Thanksgiving was always a big deal for the VanderWal household. Jan loved hosting the large gathering that always included extended family. The more people she could fit around the table, the better! The food was always wafting from the kitchen, steaming up the windows, and making everyone excited to share the meal. There was never any doubt that she loved her family.
Beyond her role as a mother, Jan worked for over twenty years at Jack’s Service Center. She worked as the cashier and often brought baked goods and meals from time to time. On occasion, she would also bring birthday cakes to celebrate with co-workers. Jan had a special way of always making others feel special. She treated everyone as family.
Jan held many special pastimes. A fabulous cook and baker, no one was ever made to go home hungry from her home. She had perfected her lasagna which became one of her family's favorites. When it came to baking, she would lean into her creative side making special desserts and even assembling Christmas wreaths out of food items like cookies and cereal. Jan was a proud member of the Blue Star Mothers when Matt entered the service. She was very passionate about encouraging and supporting the troops. Jan thrived on helping with fundraisers, sending care packages, and raising money for wreaths to place on veteran’s graves. When it came to sports, she loved her MSU Spartans! Every basketball season, she cheered them on! As for music, Jan was a faithful Bob Segar fan! Anything she set out to do in life, she always did with fun in mind.
Sadly, she was diagnosed with cancer in April of 2020. A fierce warrior when it came to the treatments, Jan persevered through it all without ever complaining. Described as a generous and very kind person, Jan loved to enjoy conversation and good cheer and looked forward to every family gathering. May her sweet personality warm the hearts of her many special friends and loved ones as they reflect on her life and may her memories be eternal.
Janice Kay VanderWal, age 59, passed away on January 26, 2024, with her loving family by her side. Jan was born November 21, 1964, in Grand Rapids, to the late George and Ruth (Diepstra) Werkema Jr. She was also preceded in death by her in-laws, Lavone Smith, Wayne VanderWal, and Dick Laman. Jan was a longtime cashier at Jack’s Service Center. She was a member of the Blue Star Mothers and was very passionate about supporting and encouraging our service men and women. On September 12, 1986, Jan married Louis VanderWal. Her husband of 37 years survives as do their children, Karlee (Greg) Shepard and Matthew (Shelby) VanderWal; one special grandchild due in July; siblings, Sharon (Don) Winkle, Tom (Kathy) Werkema, Gary (Lori) Werkema; in-laws, Pat (George) Nobel, Ruth VanderWal, Lois (Mike) Wise, Ruth Laman; and many nieces and nephews.
Friends may visit with Jan’s family on Tuesday, January 30th from 3-5 and 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. A funeral service will be held Wednesday, January 31, 2024, at 11 AM at Remembrance Church, 4575 Remembrance Rd NW visiting at the church will begin at 10 AM. Private interment will be in Rosedale Memorial Park. Memorials may be made to Ottawa-North Kent Blue Star Mothers or Beautiful You by Profile. To leave a memory or sign the guestbook, please visit www.heritagelifestory.com.