Saturday, October 28, 2017
9:00 AM to 10:00 AM EDT
Westend Christian Reformed Church
1015 Westend NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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.
West Side Christian School Foundation
955 Westend NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
On April 3, 1933, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Donna Jalaine was welcomed into the world by her parents Harry and Ethel (Rader) Francis. Her 17-year-old sister, Jean, and her 14-year-old brother, Harry Jr., welcomed their sweet baby sister's arrival. The family of five lived in the North Park area of Grand Rapids early in Donna's life, and eventually moved to the Creston neighborhood. Their home was memorably pink in color and located, appropriately enough, on Sweet Street.
Donna was the baby of the family. As such, her sister and brother were older, but so were all of her cousins. She was surrounded, however, by an abundance of love from her entire family. As a child, her family home was constantly filled with visitors, as her parents were very generous. Being raised in this environment, Donna learned the social graces and compassion for others that she practiced throughout her lifetime. As she grew into adulthood, her relationships with her siblings deepened as well.
Though her siblings were older, she had many friends in the neighborhood with whom she enjoyed playing. During the summer, her father parked the Plymouth outside so that Donna and her friends could play “house” in the garage. One of her favorite childhood companions was of the furry variety - her dog, named Mitzy, who she spoke of often.
Donna attended Palmer Elementary and later Creston High School. She loved to read, and she had a strong affection for stories, whether on the printed page or in conversation with others. She had a special interest in the Civil War because her grandfather had fought in it as a young man. Later in life she also found cemeteries very intriguing, as the stories within them were virtually endless.
Early on in high school she was blessed to meet the young man with whom she would eventually spend the rest of her life - though after the first date that was not completely obvious. She met Lawrence "Lawrn" Vander Klipp on a blind date with another couple. Lawrn was four years older than Donna, and though there was some chemistry, they didn’t immediately hit it off. Soon after, Lawrn was drafted and left for the Army. A connection remained, as they did exchange some letters during this time. Meanwhile, Donna and her family maintained their routine of attending church together as faithful members of North Park Presbyterian Church. Donna also continued her education, attending Grand Rapids Junior College, where she earned her associates degree and graduated with distinction. Donna also pursued her education in the Blodgett nursing program and proudly graduated a degreed nurse and an RN.
When Lawrn returned home, they reconnected one day, seemingly by chance. Donna and her mother happened to spot Lawrn by a barber shop in North Park. Donna's mother called out to him, and the three of them talked. There he asked if he could phone Donna. She agreed, and soon the two became more serious and began courting. Finally, they happily decided to plan a wedding. They exchanged vows on October 28, 1955 at North Park Presbyterian. The happy couple enjoyed a honeymoon in Niagara Falls and in the mountains of Pennsylvania. Upon returning home, the newlyweds rented a home for a short time before moving to their longtime neighborhood on Gordon Street NW.
Donna began work at Blodgett Hospital, but soon secured a position at the Christian Rest Home which was located just a few blocks away from their home. There Donna began a successful and fulfilling position as a charge nurse. Her career there spanned over 34 years.
Donna's religious faith was the foundation of her life. The first Sunday after they moved on to Gordon Street, she and Lawrn attended Highland Hills CRC, which later became Westend CRC. This church became the center of their spiritual and social lives—the place where they raised their family and formed lifelong friendships. Donna kept a busy calendar, and aside from worship and socializing, the church also provided Donna with a lifelong the opportunity to serve others. Among many of her volunteer ventures, she helped out with the elderly patrons, assisted in youth ministry, and hosted couple groups. Later she helped with Kids’ Hope, volunteered for Crossroads ministries, and became a Stephen’s minister. Her nursing background also afforded her the chance to take a medical mission trip to Honduras.
Two years after wedding bells rang, Donna and Lawrn entered the adventure of parenthood together. In 8 years, they welcomed 3 beautiful daughters who were promptly followed by twin boys. Needless to say, their home was a constant buzz of energy. Donna was amazing at keeping everything in order. She worked tirelessly to keep the house and care for her family while still continuing to work outside of the home.
Donna also created many fond memories with her children. All of the kids (reluctantly) participated in harvesting the produce from their family garden, in addition to the many visits they made to the local fruit farms. As a family, they would pick, can, freeze, pickle, and lay up delicious food throughout the seasons. All of these activities helped to keep the family's pantry full. The change of seasons and the holidays were special times for Donna, as she loved to decorate her house and host holiday gatherings throughout the year. Her children's birthdays were always important too, and Donna marked these occasions by dressing everyone up, inviting over all the grandparents, and providing a delicious meal with a homemade cake.
For vacations, the family spent happy summers at multiple west Michigan campgrounds, where they camped with other church families. Every year, they would spend two weeks with just their family at Young State Park on Lake Charlevoix.
In time, as their children matured to find lives of their own, Donna and Lawrn looked forward to spending more quality time together. They were blessed with the gift of 20 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Donna was a loving grandmother, and she always looked forward to seeing and visiting with each of her grandchildren. She and Lawrn attended hundreds of athletic and artistic events, tirelessly supporting their grandkids’ various endeavors.
After retirement, they took a few special trips, traveling to both Europe and Alaska where they made many wonderful memories together. They also traveled frequently to Arizona, Wisconsin, and Traverse City to visit with their children who had moved out of Grand Rapids. In 1995 they purchased a cottage on Hamlin Lake, where for the last 22 years they enjoyed long summers and countless visits from family and friends.
Ultimately, Donna was perfectly content to surround herself with family and friends. She loved people, good conversation, and laughter. The church was always a space in which she found peace, happiness, and joy: she was typically one of the last to leave after a Sunday service because of her desire to maintain friendships. Anyone who knew Donna well would agree that she was warm and engaging, always asking about others, eager to hear their stories and talk about her family. She also shared her faith in an open and welcoming way, and easily talked about her love for Jesus with those around her - friends, children and grandchildren included.
After suffering a stroke in 2013, Donna’s health declined somewhat. She recovered and was grateful, but always talked about going home to meet her Savior. She and Lawrn traveled with dear friends to North Carolina a few weeks ago, and upon their return, she did not feel well. After a series of events she entered the hospital, where for 10 incredible days she accepted visits from family and loved ones. True to her nature, even from her hospital bed she was able to show appreciation and encouragement to those she loved. She left this life fully aware of her condition and fully confident in her ultimate destination. She passed peacefully, surrounded by her loving family. She leaves behind an amazing legacy.
So often Donna asked, “What could I have ever done to be so blessed?” The answer to that question is easy: Donna loved her Lord, and reflected that love to others every day of her life.
Donna Jalaine Vander Klipp, aged 84, was surrounded by family as she passed into the waiting arms of her precious Lord and Savior on October 17, 2017. She was a godly and wonderful wife, mother, and grandmother, and a faithful member of Westend CRC. She is survived by her devoted husband of 62 years, Lawrence, as well as three daughters and twin sons: Jill (Chuck) Haak of Tucson, AZ; Julie (Howard) Johnson of Grand Rapids; Jane (Phil) Bylsma of Brookfield, WI; Mark (Suzanne) Vanderklipp of Traverse City; and Michael (Jennifer) Vander Klipp of Grand Rapids, as well as 20 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and a large and loving extended family. The service to remember and celebrate her life will be held on Saturday, October 28, 2017, at 10 AM at Westend Christian Reformed Church. Friends are invited to visit with her family on Friday from 2-4 & 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW and on Saturday at the church from 9 AM until the service. Memorial contributions can be made to the Christian Rest Home Foundation or to the West Side Christian School Foundation. We love you, Mom, and we will see you again soon. “Blessed are those who die in the Lord…they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them” (Revelation 14:13).