Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Janet Van Geison

October 28, 1921 - October 7, 2021
Kalamazoo, MI



Saturday, October 23, 2021
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EDT
Second Congregational Church
525 Cheshire Drive NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505


Saturday, October 23, 2021
11:00 AM EDT
Second Congregational Church
525 Cheshire Drive NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505


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.

Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan
1323 Cedar Street NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 776-1300
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


All who knew Janet VanGeison would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. With faith as a solid cornerstone in her life, her desire to selflessly serve others served as a shining example of what it means to be the hands and feet of the Lord she loved. Second only to her faith, Janet viewed her family as her most priceless treasure. Strong, independent, and resilient, she faced whatever came her way with grace and faith in God’s goodness. Deeply loved, Janet will be forever missed.

The 1920s were a vibrant time in American history when the cultural fabric was colored with new things - motion pictures in both color and sound, cars that were mass produced on assembly lines, and both jazz music and ballroom dancing. It was in October of 1921 that Rollo and Nellie (Casaday) Smith were pleased to announce the birth of the baby girl they named Janet Lucretia, on the 28th in Hastings, Michigan. As the oldest of four girls, she was raised in the family home alongside her sisters, Doris, Joan, and Jean. Janet’s parents divorced when she was about six, and her grandmother lived with them as well.

As a young girl the strong work ethic that served Janet well throughout her life began to take shape. The 1930s ushered in the Great Depression, and as a result Janet’s family didn’t have much. To help make ends meet, she had several jobs including baby-sitting and taking care of household chores for a local family. She earned just $.25 a night, and Janet also set women’s hair for $.50. Later on, she worked for a prominent family, working as a nanny and helping with big dinner parties for several years. During the summer, she enjoyed spending time on Torch Lake with that family. Janet moved to Howell with them and continued her school there. A few years later, she returned to Hastings and took a job in an office. Not too long after, Janet decided that all the sitting required wasn’t something she enjoyed. Then, she took a job as a cosmetician in a local pharmacy and helping with the books. Over the next 40 years, she worked in five different pharmacies.

New and exciting changes were in store for Janet when she met the man of her dreams. His name was Martin VanGeison, and they met on a blind date. Although he was quite shy, he did send her a postcard asking her for a second date. From there, their relationship began to grow. About six months later, Martin enlisted in the Air Force. Janet was able to visit him while he was stationed in Texas. From there he served in Africa and Italy during WWII before returning home in the fall of 1945. Although they were physically separated, they continued to correspond by letter. Once they were reunited, the sweethearts were married on December 22, 1945, at First United Methodist Church in Hastings.

At first the newlyweds settled in Lansing, but they later moved to Big Rapids since Janet encouraged Mart to finish his schooling. While he was in pharmacy school at Ferris College, they started their family. Once he received his degree, the young family moved to Grand Rapids and purchased a home on Ellsmere. This became their home for the next 50 years and where they would raise their three daughters, Jean, Ruth, and Elizabeth. Janet and her husband also had a son, but he sadly died shortly after his birth. Although she also worked throughout most of her life, she did spend a bit more time at home when her girls were young. Janet also helped out on the playground at Huff School.

Janet’s hard work also extended inside the four walls of her home. She did a lot of baking and canning, and she was a creative cook who loved trying new things. Janet loved going to the farmer’s market. She also loved entertaining and was a fantastic hostess who regularly had friends over. Janet hosted numerous bridal and baby showers over the years. She enjoyed working in her flower garden and was also an excellent seamstress who made a lot of clothing for her girls. Janet’s skills also extended to needlepoint and knitting. In addition to things in her home, she enjoyed so many things both close to home and far away. She and Martin liked playing in Bridge clubs and were active members at Second Congregational Church. As a family they looked forward to vacations in the summer. Sometimes it was a camping trip close to home like in Muskegon and other times they traveled further including trips to the Smokey Mountains and other places of historical significance on the East Coast.

One of Janet’s biggest blessings was becoming a grandmother, and she didn’t shy away from helping when they were young as she really loved taking care of young children. She often played on the floor with them, and as they got older reading books became a favorite. As her granddaughters grew, she spent time teaching them to cook. She kept life interesting too, as she could throw a baseball over the house. All of Janet’s grandchildren knew about her candy stash in the corner cabinet and knew if they helped themselves a time or two it wouldn’t be a problem for her. Family holidays were always at Janet’s house, and her legendary Easter egg hunts were a favorite. For a few years Janet and her husband camped at Lincoln Pines, and the kids came to visit.

During her retirement years Janet continued to be active. She and Martin took a few trips including a memorable trip to Nova Scotia and several trips to the Upper Peninsula. They also traveled to Europe with their church choir. Janet also worked a little at the Fulton Street Market and helped care for a few older ladies who needed some extra help. As Martin’s memory started to deteriorate, they moved to Holland Home. When he passed away in 2006, Janet returned home and lived independently for several more years. She also sang in the church choir and was the cashier at the church’s second best sale for many years. In time Janet needed some assistance and has spent the past six years in assisted living where she remained sharp until the very end.

With a life that spanned nearly a century, Janet VanGeison touched the lives of so many in such a special way. Although she could talk to anyone, she was an even better listener. Janet’s deep devotion to her family was easy to see, and she was thrilled to become a grandmother and great-grandmother later in life. She will never be forgotten.

Janet L VanGeison, age 99 (only 3 weeks shy of her 100th birthday) of Kalamazoo and formerly of Grand Rapids, went home to be with her Lord and Savior on October 7, 2021. Janet was preceded in death by her husband, Martin, and her sisters Doris Covey, Joan Kasinsky and Jean Morehead. Janet is survived by her children Jean Sizemore, Ruth (Russ) Ainslie, and Elizabeth (Mark) Vanderson; grandchildren Lindsay (Daniel) Lundberg, Heather (Adam) Roszkowski, Kyle (Amber) Welmers, Megan (Jake) Manne, Emily (Ryan) Miersma, Sarah (Casey) McClurken, Katelyn (Billy) Woodard; 18 great-grandchildren as well as several nieces and nephews.

The service to remember and celebrate Janet’s life will be held on Saturday, October 23, 2021, at 11 AM at Second Congregational Church, 525 Cheshire Drive NE where friends are invited to visit with her family beginning at 10 AM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan are appreciated. To read more about Janet, to share a memory or to sign her guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com