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Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Willemina Van Egmond, it is easy to see that she exemplified what it means to be the hands and feet of the Lord she loved. She worked hard in everything she did, and she took great pride in using her gifts and talents to provide for her family. She didn’t shy away from sharing her mind, but everything she said and did was because she cared about her family and wanted the best for them.
It was during the vibrant decade of the 1920s when jazz music, ballroom dancing, and motion pictures in both color and sound all colored the cultural fabric of America. This was also a time of great excitement for Nick and Alice (Hoogland) Kimm as they announced the birth of the baby girl they named Willemina Catherine on the family farm in Manhattan, Montana, on March 31, 1924. The oldest of five, she was joined in her family by her siblings, Audrey, Winona, Ethel, and Clarence. Sadly, Willemina’s father was killed in a farm accident when she was a young girl. In addition to attending Manhattan Christian Elementary school, she had various farm and household chores. Willemina later went to Manhattan High School and also played the marimba. When her mother became ill, Willemina nursed her to health for two years until she recovered. After high school she took some classes at a business college in Bozeman, Montana, where she learned shorthand. Willemina then spent some time working as a seed analyst at Montana State University.
New and exciting changes were in store for Willemina when she met the man who would forever hold the key to her heart. His name was Peter Van Egmond, and they met at church. They dated for three years, and with a desire to build a life together they were married on November 30, 1946, at Manhattan Christian Reformed Church. The newlyweds made their home in Bozeman. Her husband farmed with his brother and also worked with his father on his farm in Coffee Creek. In the summers, the family lived on the farm, where they had no running water and an outhouse. They had a community tub in the kitchen for baths on Saturday night, which continued when Willemina and her husband had their own children. Together they were blessed with the births of four children, Rollan, John, Marie, and Patricia. Willemina’s husband died unexpectedly in 1956 during heart surgery to repair damage caused by rheumatic fever. She was pregnant with Patricia and her oldest was just seven. To make ends meet, Willemina initially did laundry and ironing for people, then worked as a receptionist for a year in a doctor’s office before going back to being a seed analyst at Montana State University for 33 years.
As her family and friends can attest, Willemina was frugal and resourceful. She kept a big garden and grew corn, potatoes, beans, raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, and lots of flowers. Her grocery bill was very small, just $13 for meat, cheese, and soap for the whole week. Potatoes were obtained by the children gleaning in the fields of relatives with potato farms for free. Since they couldn’t afford baggies for lunches, Willemina took the wax paper from cereal boxes and used those; one bag per kid per week. The kids also had jobs so they could put their earnings in the family money box after payday, and they helped around the house, too. All the kids went to Christian grade school, only Marie went to the Christian high school. Willemina was the workhorse of the family as she worked until lunch, walked home to put dinner in the oven so it would be ready later, and then walked back to finish her work day. As a family they attended Bethel Christian Reformed Church, where Willemina was a charter member.
During the years the children were in school, all the relatives would plan large holiday celebrations that included extended families. It was a fun time. During this same time, Bethel church provided Christian support and love in extraordinary ways to help the family! This support is lovingly remembered by Willemina and the children. The church was always the central connection to much joy and fellowship.
Willemina was reluctant to let the boys use the family car for any purpose. No one knows why exactly, but this instilled a great work ethic for the boys to save money to buy their own car. The girls thought they were cool riding in their older brother’s cars.
Over the years all of Willemina’s children moved away, but they regularly got together for large family reunions. She lived on her own for 20 years and retired from Montana State University in the early 90s. Willemina liked to travel with her children and went with them to Yellowstone, the Tetons, Glacier, Banff, Jasper, and throughout Montana on many occasions. Willemina also took a trip to Alaska, including the inside passage and Denali. While there she even took a twin engine flight to the top of Denali to see all the glaciers and wildlife. Willemina loved seeing the moose, bear, elk, sheep. mountains, and often spoke of this trip.
There were many things that kept Willemina busy. Her faith and church family played a primary role, and she attended Bible Study Fellowship for over 19 years, which provided her with “a wealth of Bible knowledge that enriched her spiritually.” Among her favorite passages were Psalms 18:1, Psalms 37:3, Proverbs 22:1-3, and Ephesians 2:1-5, among many others. Her favorite hymns were Blessed Assurance and Now I Belong to Jesus. Willemina enjoyed reading books by Christian authors and playing Scrabble. She liked working with her hands especially knitting, crocheting, and petit-point stitchery
After living in the same house for 63 years, Willemina sold her home and moved to Michigan. Once there, she lived with Rollan for six weeks until she became the first resident at Waterford Place. While in Michigan Willemina often traveled to vacation destinations throughout the state with her children. She also took several bus trips with church groups.
She was accompanied by a deep and unwavering faith, and her devotion to her family was easy to see. Greatly missed, Willemina leaves behind a timeless collection of memories that her loved ones will forever cherish.
Willemina Catherine (Kimm) Van Egmond (96) of Jenison, Michigan went to be with her Lord and Savior on Easter, April 12, 2020 at the Brookcrest Rehab & Life Center in Grandville, Michigan. She was born on March 31, 1924 to Nick and Alice Kimm on their farm near Manhattan, Montana. Willemina was raised on their family farm and attended Manhattan Christian Elementary School and graduated from Manhattan Public High School in 1943. She later graduated from the Bozeman Business School. She married Peter Van Egmond in 1946 with whom she would have 4 children: Rollan (1948), John (1950), Marie (1954) and Patricia (1957). Peter passed away in December 1956 at the age of 37 from complications related to childhood rheumatic fever.
Willemina was employed by Montana State University and worked for 33 years in the Plant Sciences & Pathology Department as a laboratory seed analyst. She tested the purity of seed samples for farmers, seed growers, and other state agencies. In retirement she did volunteer work at the Law and Justice Center, Love, Inc., and the Chamber of Commerce in Bozeman. Willemina was a long-time member of the Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Churchill, Montana and its Evening Fellowship Ladies Group. Her special joy in life was participating in Bible Study Fellowship for 19 years. Through this study, she acquired a wealth of Bible knowledge which enriched her spiritually. She also loved to knit, crochet, read and do petit-point stitching.
In 2009, Willemina moved from Bozeman, Montana to the independent living community at Waterford Place in Jenison, Michigan. While in Michigan she became a member of Ridgewood Christian Reformed Church and attended regularly until her death. She loved playing card and board games as well as constructing puzzles with her fellow Waterford Place community residents.
Willemina is preceded in death by her parents, her husband Peter, her sister Winona Vander Molen and her brother Clarence Kimm. She is survived by her sisters Audrey Flikkema (Manhattan, Montana) and Ethel Bestebreur (Sunnyside, Washington) along with numerous nieces and nephews. She is also survived by her 4 children: Rollan (Marijo) Van Egmond, Grand Rapids, Michigan, John (Janna) Van Egmond, Tucson, Arizona, Marie (Jeris) Vermeer, Maurice, Iowa, and Patricia Van Egmond, Tucson, Arizona along with her 12 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.
Memorials may be sent to the Bible League International in Crete, Illinois or the Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Manhattan Montana.
Willemina enjoyed God’s presence and direction in her life and knew that her eternal hope was in her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We will miss her earthly presence but rejoice in her liberation to heaven where she is now glorifying her heavenly Father forever.
I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:1-2 NIV)