Saturday, September 22, 2018
11:00 AM EDT
St. James Lutheran Church
2040 Oakwood NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
Friends may visit with the family at church from 10 AM until the service
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.
Life Story / Obituary
Humble, loving, and kind, Judith Kippen lived a heart-centered life rich in family and service to others. Judy was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, nurse, and friend. She was a generous caretaker who gave willingly, loved freely, and proved a powerful role model. A Judy’s legacy of love and care will long live in the hearts of many.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, the power of hope undulated in the hearts of many. With a natural drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, the nation continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was there more hope than in the Grand Rapids home of Frederick and Maxine (Bevens) DeYoung as they welcomed their first born child, Judith Ann, into their hearts and home on July 30, 1937.
Born in a time of plenty and having grown up in a time firmly rooted in a focus on family, Judy’s life was built on the firm foundation of family values and hard work. The oldest of the DeYoungs’ three children, Judy developed a deep sense of responsibility by the age of seven because her mother had Multiple Sclerosis and Judy assisted in providing much of the day to day care for her younger siblings, John and Carol. With this role, Judy helped ensure that the family’s home on Knapp and Plainfield was both loving and a place of sanctuary for all.
From a very early age, Judy found much happiness in life’s simple things. She loved having pets and had the good fortune of sharing the companionship of many four-legged friends over the years. Whether rabbit, cat, or dog, all were welcome friends and the benefactors of Judy’s loving care. When not tending to her pets or other responsibilities at home, Judy loved to play ball!
Her first job outside the home was working at a creamery on Fuller Ave. At the age of 15, Judy had the good fortune of meeting her best friend’s handsome neighbor, Jack Kippen during a game of ball. They soon began spending time together and by the end of her senior year of high school, the knew they would spend the rest of their lives together.
Judy graduated from Creston High School, and on October 8, 1955, she and Jack were married at St. James Lutheran Church. Following a honeymoon to Niagara Falls, the newlyweds purchased a house on Northlawn Street NE where they were blessed to live for the rest of their lives. Judy continued to work her job at the telephone company that she first started working at during her senior year in high school to meet their goal of paying off the house as soon as possible. Judy and Jack’s hard work and sacrifice made it possible to pay off the house within nine years.
With the home paid off, they were ready to start a family. Over the next seven years, they were blessed to welcome four children to their family. Gregory, Joni, Deron, and Pamela were Judy’s greatest joy. With signature love and grace, Judy poured herself into creating a wonderful home for her sweetheart and children.
Judy thoroughly enjoyed her years as a homemaker. However, once Pam began school, she was ready for a change, and chose to go to school too! Judy enrolled in classes at Grand Rapids Junior College and soon became a registered nurse. She began her career working in the ICU at Ferguson Hospital. Years later when the hospital closed, she started working at Blodgett Hospital in the Digestive Disease Unit where she continued to work until her retirement in 2009.
While her kids were still home, Judy worked afternoons so she could be home with them in the morning. She made their lunches each day and helped them get off to school. She liked working second shift because of the type of work she did, but it was important to her that she be able to help the kids start their days. With Jack being home in the evenings, it worked out well for the family, and they never needed outside care for the kids. Judy loved her job and the lifelong friendships she built with many of her coworkers. She worked every other weekend and enjoyed Thursdays off by playing card games with friends.
If she wasn’t working, she was enjoying the simple pleasures of family life. Judy had a regular routine she followed that included spending many Sundays baking pies from scratch or a Texas sheet cake to be enjoyed throughout the week. She also canned fruits and vegetables and made delicious jam. The family looked forward each year to their annual vacation to Mackinaw City and enjoyed additional camping adventures and even a trip to Niagara Falls. A regular treat for the family was the many weekend trips to the beach where Judy loved to find a spot in the shade to read or enjoyed a walk on the pier.
Judy required very little sleep and often went to bed around 2 AM and was up by 6 AM. With endless energy, she knew what she wanted, how she wanted it, and wasn’t afraid to make things happen. Despite her ability to take-charge, Judy was quiet in new situations and often relied on Jack’s humor and charm to make new friendships. Once the initial gestures were made, Judy would open up and become more talkative.
Judy and Jack were humble people who did not want for material things. They lived faith-centered lives and were members at St. James Lutheran Church for many years. They also saw to it that their children received a Christian education through the school and did their best to make sure the grandchildren did as well. Judy was actively involved in a Bible study for many years as well. Though easily content keeping things simple for themselves, they gave generously to their family, especially for birthdays and Christmas. Judy loved her family dearly and was thrilled to welcome grandchildren. She loved nothing more than spending time with her family and often watched them. She loved attending the kids’ school activities and cheering on their sporting events. Without a doubt, Judy was happiest when surrounded by her family and treasured the times when everyone could gather together. Later in life, Judy and Jack bought a trailer on Silver Lake near Hart, MI. They enjoyed many getaways at the trailer and especially enjoyed when family would visit them there.
By the time Judy retired, Jack’s health challenges began to keep them closer to home. Judy kept vigilant care of Jack until she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about two years ago. At that time, Jack moved to Vista Springs assisted living until November 14, 2017, when he took his final breaths surrounded by his family. Just ten short months later in the comforts her home where so many family memories were created, Judy passed away on Saturday, September 15, 2018.
Judy's family will find comfort in their many treasured memories. Judy relished in caring for others, a good meal, good books, and time spent with those she loved. Whether baking a pie, tending to a grandchild, gathering for a holiday, or cheering on a game, Judy’s heart and thoughts were always centered around the well-being of others; there simply was no safer place for others to be than in Judy’s heart. A gift and a treasure, Judy will long be remembered in the hearts of those she loved.
Judith A. Kippen, age 81 of Grand Rapids, passed away September 15, 2018. She was preceded in death by her husband of 62 years, Jack. Judy is survived by her children Gregory (Roxane) Kippen of Grand Rapids, Joni (Salvatore) Pirrotta of Grand Haven, Deron (Kari) Kippen of Comstock Park, Pamela Eck of Comstock Park; grandchildren, Andrew & Noah Pirrotta, Branden (Liz) & Brittany Bennett, Tyler & Gabrielle Kippen, Taylor, Alexis & Rachel Eck; great-grandchildren, Tait and Reid Bennett; sister, Carol De Man; brother, John (Joyce) De Young; brother-in-law Richard (Eileen) Kippen; and several nieces and nephews. The service to remember and celebrate Judy's life will be held on Saturday, September 22, 2018, at 11 AM at St. James Lutheran Church, 2010 Oakwood Ave NE. Friends are invited to visit with her family on Friday from 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - 1833 Plainfield Ave NE and on Saturday at the church beginning at 10 AM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to either Immanuel St. James Academy or Faith Hospice are appreciated. To read more about Judy's life, to share a memory or to sign her guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com