Gardening 03

Shirley VandenBerg

September 17, 1927 ~ May 22, 2021 (age 93)


Shirley Jane Anderson VandenBerg September 17, 1927 – May 22, 2021

If you had asked our mom how she would like to be remembered, she would have said without hesitation, “as a good mother.” She was all about family but also found time to serve the community as a volunteer in our school classrooms, the Blodgett Hospital Auxiliary, The Junior League of Grand Rapids and the West Michigan Environmental Action Committee.

When the Junior League put on the play The Wizard of Oz one year, the rehearsals often took place in our living room where Mom delighted (surprised?) us with her interpretation of the Wicked Witch of the West. In costume we didn’t recognize her! She taught us how to step outside our expectations and boundaries with fun and joy. 

When the original Grand Rapids City Hall was to be demolished, Mom and her friends dug up the tiles from the floors with crowbars, determined to save at least part of the heritage of the building. As children we learned so much about the importance of values and preservation from her example. 

Mom loved the outdoors and instilled in all of us a great appreciation for nature’s gifts. From gardening, to bird watching, to summer camping trips, she and our dad, too, enjoyed life with enthusiasm which we all carry with us to this day. 

Our dear mother died peacefully at home at the age of 93. Her husband of 47 years, William Oliver (Bill) predeceased her in 1995. She is survived by her son William Christian and wife Betsy Neubig; her daughter Juliana and husband Norman Schwartz; and her daughter Susan, wife of the late Nino Cupaiuolo. Another son, Peter, who died of cancer in 2008, is survived by his wife Nancy VandenBerg. Mom was also a special “Oma” to nine grandchildren and one great grandson. 

Memorial contributions in her memory can be made to the East Grand Rapids School Foundation: William and Shirley VandenBerg Scholarship Fund.

Though we mourn her passing, we celebrate her loving support, gentle guidance and everything she accomplished. We know how lucky we have been to have our mother as we ourselves are in our 60’s and 70’s. With every good and kind thing that we do, we will be bringing her back to us. We will miss you beyond words, Mom.

Your loving daughters and son,

Susan, Juliana and Chris

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