Thursday, January 26, 2017
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EST
Life Story Funeral Homes - Rupert, Durham, Marshall & Gren
120 South Woodhams Street
Plainwell, MI 49080
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.
Southern Care Hospice
1911 W. Centre Ave
Portage, MI 49024
New Friends Memory Care & Assisted Living
3700 West Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Helen Thiel was very much devoted to her family. A caring nurturer, Helen cherished her years as a mother and was delighted to spoil each of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well as one very special great-great-granddaughter. Social by nature, she loved to entertain or meet up with many special friends and neighbors over the years, and looked forward to a good game of cards. Living her life to the fullest and enjoying the company of each and every person who came her way, she leaves behind a rich legacy of accepting all people with compassion. Her warm personality, genuine friendship, and loving ways will be deeply missed.
It is hard to find any area that was not directly impacted by the effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Banks were still closing but there was a promise of a new election year awaiting. By 1931, mobster Al Capone was locked away in Alcatraz, the Empire State Building had finished completion, and one of the greatest droughts in American history had hit the Central Plains region. During the midst of one of the toughest decades in American history, Edward and Nellie (Rosell) VanderMeer welcomed home the arrival of their newborn daughter, Helen on February 26th in Walker Township near Grand Rapids, Michigan. Born the second of five children, Helen brought much joy to the family in a tough economic era.
Helen lived a typical childhood of the Great Depression. Her father was a hard working furniture trimmer and her mother was a homemaker. Attending local schools, she graduated with the Class of 1949 from Central High School in Grand Rapids. As a high school student, she ran cross country. Soon after her graduation, she worked at Leer Electric. Helen began the dating scene as a young woman often going on double dates. On one such double date, she met the man of her dreams who was actually on a date that night with the other gal. The two of them seemed to hit it off and after the date exchanged phone numbers. Their romance ensued and with a strong desire to spend the rest of their lives together, they married on February 2, 1951. Soon after their wedding ceremony, George was drafted and proudly served his country in the United States Army. When he was discharged, they settled down in the Grand Rapids area. Throughout their beautiful sixty-four years together, they raised three wonderful children; Steve, Deb, and Kevin. Helen cherished her role of motherhood staying home with her children and giving them the very best she had to offer. She and George shared with their children their strong belief in living faith-filled lives.
Helen had many special interests over the years. She was an excellent cook and baker and loved to make her son, Steve his favorite cheese souffle on his birthday! Whenever her husband, George was out of town, however, she treated her growing family to their favorite TV dinners or treats at McDonald’s. Helen enjoyed many years camping and looked forward to trips to Blue Lake. She also enjoyed bowling with her family and special friends as well as spending time at her favorite place; the golf course. She was an avid golfer and even managed a hole-in-one at the Crestview course in Cooper Township, which is every golfer’s dream! She loved to cheer on her favorite NFL team, the Detroit Lions each Sunday satisfied no matter if they won or lost. Known to fill up the plates of her guests and never let them go hungry, she also loved to serve Manhattans from a recipe that she had perfected over the years. A simple person who enjoyed the music of Tina Turner, curling up with her favorite Danielle Steele or Nora Roberts books, or watching the Golden Girls, Helen was content and happy doing just about anything!
Always one to be active, when she wasn’t out on the golf course, she loved spending time with her growing family. Throughout her life, Helen savored every moment she spent with them. She was thrilled to become a grandmother, and she loved having her grandchildren over whenever she could. She loved to share her special Donald Duck impression with her grandkids and never ran out of their favorite treats; Combos and Fruit Roll-Ups. She was deeply devoted to her loved ones, and it was easy to see that her family was her greatest source of pride and joy. Always there for those in need, Helen was truly selfless of her time and her resources. Her wonderful collection of memories will be lovingly remembered by all those who knew and loved her.
Helen J. Thiel, of Cooper, died on Friday, January 20, 2017, at the age of 85. She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Plainwell. Helen’s family includes her children: Steve (Becky) Thiel, Kevin (Leanne) Thiel; 12 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren and one great-great-granddaughter. She is also survived by her sister, Lorraine Spoelstra, of Otsego, and brother, Robert “Bobby” (Patty) VanderMeer, of TX. Helen was preceded in death by her husband, George; daughter, Debra Crouch; brother: Ed VanderMeer and one sister: Barb Gillette and brother-in-law, Warren Thiel. The family will receive friends on Thursday, January 26, 2017 from 10:00-11:00 at the Life Story Funeral Home, Plainwell; 120 Woodhams St. (269-685-5881). A funeral will follow at 11:00 a.m. at the same location. Please visit Helen’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a memory or photo and sign her memory book online before coming to the funeral home. Memorial donations can be made to Southern Care Hospice and New Friends Memory Care & Assisted Living.