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Life Story / Obituary
With unending love for her family, Jerri Remynse was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother who lived to care for and nurture her family. She was accompanied by an unwavering faith, her faith was the compass she used to guide her steps, and she counted whatever came her way as God’s perfect plan for her life. Jerri was known for her quiet strength, her kind heart, and her genuine spirit that drew others near with ease. Jerri worked hard in everything she did both in and outside of the home, her work ethic and attention to detail providing those around her with much to aspire for. Although she cherished her roles as a wife and mother, Jerri just may have argued that becoming a grandmother was her richest reward. She leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on.
It seems only fitting that Jerri’s journey began during a time that was as vibrant as she was. It was the Nifty Fifties when Elvis Presley took the music world by storm with his rock ’n roll music and James Dean made young girls swoon on the silver screen. Civil rights gained momentum when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus, and by the end of the decade we had put the first man on the moon. Amidst this exciting time there was great anticipation in the lives of Douglas and Marie (Genther) Duryea, who were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as the heat of the summer set in on Allegan, Michigan. The big day finally arrived when the baby girl they named Jerri drew her first breath. She was the oldest of four children and was raised in the family home in Hopkins alongside her siblings, Benjamin, Raymond, and Sarah. As an older sister, Jerri loved scaring her siblings with “the look”, which her children also came to know.
In many ways Jerri was a young girl of her generation. While in grade school, her family moved from Hopkins to Portage, where she attended local schools. Jerri loved spending time on her grandfather’s 40 acre dairy farm, and she also loved visiting the cabin up North in White Cloud where she spent hours just walking in the woods. An active girl, she also regularly swam in Diamond Lake as well as in Lake Michigan. Jerri was also a gifted pianist who played piano at church. After spending the bulk of her school years in Portage, Jerri's family moved to Climax at the beginning of her sophomore year and she went on to graduate from Galesburg Augusta High School in 1975. While in high school she was also a cheerleader.
New and exciting changes were in store for Jerri when she met a young man named Richard Van Beck. They were married on September 21, 1975, and together they welcomed their first child, Angela, in 1977. Angela was later joined by three additional siblings, Jason, Nicole, and Jonathon. Because Jerri’s husband was in the Navy, they spent some time living in Virginia before returning to Kalamazoo for the rest of her life. Although her marriage ended in divorce after 33 years, Jerri was forever grateful for the children they shared.
From the moment she became a mother Jerri fully immersed herself in the role. She took great care in preparing home cooked family meals, which wasn’t easy since all of her children were picky eaters. They all had their favorite dishes including lasagna, roast beef, and special birthday cakes as birthdays meant a grand celebration in her home. Jerri was there for all of her children’s school and sporting events, and they enjoyed spending time at the cabin and on vacation as a family for two weeks in the summer. In addition to running the household and raising her children, Jerri held various jobs outside of the home including working on the line at Valley Plastic. In 1985 Richard started his own roofing company, Van Beck Roofing, and she then began working in the office there.
Throughout her life Jerri maintained an active lifestyle and was a woman of many interests. Her faith was a cornerstone in her life, and at first she was Lutheran, but she later became part of the Christian Reformed Church. Most recently Jerri had been attending Centerpoint Church. She enjoyed reading religious and inspirational books in addition to various devotional Bible studies. As an avid card player Jerri taught her children how to play double solitaire, known as “nurtz”, which she learned from her father and used to play with her family. They also played the board game, Aggravation. Jerri loved all animals, and they had a few dogs but cats were primarily a part of her home. She enjoyed going to flea markets to look for Depression glass to add to her collection, and she also loved shopping for her children.
Later in life Jerri experienced additional blessings. One such blessing was when grandchildren began arriving, and she loved nothing more than doting over them and helping out with them whenever she could. Jerri’s grandchildren knew they could call her and she would let them do whatever they wanted as she was completely focused on what interested them. Holidays were favorite times as it gave everyone the opportunity to gather together. Jerri’s life was forever changed when she met Rick Remynse at the divorce support group at Centerpoint. Since no one could date while in the class they completed the class before having their first date. Sparks flew right from the start, and they were married on November 21, 2009, in an intimate ceremony with only their children at Centerpoint Church. After a honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas, Jerri and Rick returned home. She loved having family over, which included Rick’s two children, Nathan and Beth, as well as their families. She was an amazing hostess who wanted to do all the cooking herself. Jerri and Rick moved in with Rick’s parents and she assisted with their care; she worked one day a week at Stay At Home Companion, and volunteered at Borgess Visiting Nurses. Jerri also continued working as an accountant for her son Jason’s business, Capstone Home Improvement, and she and Rick were currently building a new house.
In November of 2011, Jerri and her family were given a tough pill to swallow when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought hard, never complaining, and her cancer went into remission in 2013. Sadly the cancer returned in August, 2014, and Jerri was unable to overcome the war that raged against her. Jerri was never left alone; her daughter Nicole was with her every day and her family was with her until the end.
Compassionate, fun-loving, and nurturing, Jerri Remynse was a blessing to everyone she met. She was the matriarch of her family who taught her loved ones so much about what true love is. Jerri will never be forgotten.
Jerri Remynse died on February 16, 2015. Jerri’s family includes her husband, Rick Remynse; 4 children: Angela (Doug) Smith, Jason (Lisa) Van Beck, Nicole Van Beck (Donald Barraia) and Jonathon Van Beck; 4 grandchildren: Blake, Caden, Jonah and Benjamin and one expected in August; father, Douglas (Shirley) Duryea; 2 siblings: Raymond Duryea (Eddie Buitrago) and Sarah (Eddie) Burgen; 3 step-sisters: Lynn (Charlie) Shoemaker, Vickey (Kevin) Christopher and Debbie (Tom) Benzie and many nieces, nephews and cousins. Jerri was preceded in death by her mother, Marie Duryea, and brother, Benjamin Duryea. Visit with family and friends on Thursday from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 375-2900. Services will be held Friday 11:00 AM at Centerpoint Church (2345 North 10th St.) in the chapel followed by a luncheon in the church hall. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo. Memorial contributions may be made to Susan G. Komen or Rose Arbor Hospice.