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Life Story / Obituary
A beautiful woman, wife and mother, Marilyn Vleugel, a beloved teacher in Vicksburg MI for 40 years, was actually more than just an educator but a friend to nearly 4 generations of students in the community schools there, from 1952 to 1993. She was one of a kind, having taught in each of the 1 room schoolhouses in the area as well as the Old Elementary, Sunset, Indian Lake, Tobey, Fulton Elementary, also the Junior High and High School!
She had the privilege of teaching alongside many exemplary teachers as her weekly schedule permitted her to move class work and supplies from room to room, school to school. During the mornings she’d be with impressionable elementary children and progress toward her “middleschoolers”, then deal with her favorites, the High school kids. This was where she shined. If you had her as a teacher of Art class or Business class or were involved in Yearbook you knew you’d be challenged but after all was concluded and the work was done, you’d recognize your accomplishment, know it was something to be proud of and she’d smile along with your successes!
She was highly respected as a teacher having been involved at the KIA and Kendall School of design. A devoted wife and mother, Marilyn was proud of her family. Her beauty, her grace, and her selfless compassion were known to many. Although she accomplished so much in which to be proud, Marilyn was a humble woman who used her gifts and talents to bless those around her. She will be deeply missed, but the timeless collection of memories she leaves behind will never be forgotten.
Marilyn Jeane was born October 3rd, 1931 and living during the period was anything but easy as the entire decade was cloaked in the hardship of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, unemployment severe and countless families lived with hardships and just went without necessities. Despite the hardship around them, Marilyn’s father and mother, Orville and Margaret (Willis) Schroeder were able to shift their focus to an exciting time as they anticipated the birth of their baby daughter as the beauty of fall began to cover the city of Pontiac, Michigan. She was the second of four children in her family and was raised alongside her older brother Orville. Later, younger brothers Robert and Frederick came along after moving to Kalamazoo. Marilyn’s father owned and operated Dutch Treat Bakery, her mother volunteered as a Sunday school teacher, playing piano at St Luke’s Church. As a youth, Marilyn often worked along her Dad’s side helping in the bakery and recognizing the importance of learning. Her father had an English degree from the University of Michigan, played football there and had served in the military prior. Later in life, after having sold the bakery, he remained active in business, serving a term of president for the Kalamazoo Board of Realty. This all rubbed off on Marilyn as she herself became accomplished and active in life but always respected people’s efforts and hard work.
In many ways Marilyn was a pioneering young woman of her generation. She was an excellent student who attended Kalamazoo Central High School graduating there in 1949. She enjoyed the ladies softball league playing outfield and throwing them out at home plate. Not to be forgotten during Marilyn’s younger years was her introduction to the man she would eventually marry. His name was Dick Vleugel. She was around the age of 14 when they met at the ponds of Crosstown Parkway during wintertime. While ice skating, Dick bumped into her, grabbing a hold so as to not fall but rather to dance her into his arms. They were smitten with one another from that moment on.
Marilyn went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in Art Education from Western Michigan University in 1952. She married Richard Vleugel while attending college there, November 10th 1951.
She helped him acquire his art/biology degree from WMU after returning from serving in the Marine Corp after Korea. This ultimately led them both into becoming educators in Vicksburg where they raised two children, Robin Renee and Richard Ryan who remain in the area.
All who knew Marilyn would agree that she was one busy lady. Within her community she was an active participant and past president of the Ladies Lions as her husband was an active member and former president for Lions club there. Marilyn was also a member of the MEA, NEA, and Michigan Art Education Association.
During the early years of the Rotary Showboat, she and Dick were being asked to design the back drops for the minstrel show from scratch every year. Their hand drawn murals were masterpieces, bringing reality to the stage that was beyond compare. In fact, because of their talents, education and civic duty, they volunteered to create the scenery for the Showboat for 13 years.
1975 was a big year, Marilyn and Dick moved to their first new house. Highview Shores on Indian Lake was home for years and she and Dick loved living there, enjoying sailing and being with good neighbors. With her own creative flair, Marilyn loved decorating her home there. Most everyone was aware of Marilyn’s love for shopping, primarily for clothes as she took care in looking her best. She enjoyed sewing, too, and she found great companionship in her beloved dog, Sandy.
Art was her lifelong passion. She’d say “Art is everywhere, just stop and use your senses to recognize the beauty that surrounds us. Discover it’s more than a painting, a sculpture, or a design you see. It’s the spectrum of colors and texture; it’s a body in motion, dance, athletics, the styles of clothes or shoes we wear. The homes or automobiles, Cityscapes, flowers, or the suns diamond reflections on windblown waves, crafted by human hands or that of nature, art is the wonder of life”
Described as resilient and determined, loving and inspiring, Marilyn Vleugel was a blessing to those around her. She had a certain spunk about her that even made her sassy from time to time. Whether her family or her students, Marilyn encouraged others to do their best. A longtime resident of the community she loved, she will be forever remembered.
Marilyn J. Vleugel, of Kalamazoo, formerly of Vicksburg, died on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Marilyn’s family includes her two children: Robin R. Vleugel, of Kalamazoo; Richard “Rick” (Julia) Vleugel, of Vicksburg; four grandchildren: Erik and Kristin Vleugel, Kimberly and Caitlin Courval; Her brother, Frederick (Tina) Schroeder, of South Haven. Marilyn was preceded in death by her husband, Richard “Dick” Vleugel; two brothers: Orville and Robert Schroeder. The family will receive friends on Sunday from 2-4 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, 409 S. Main, Vicksburg (269-649-1697). A funeral service will be held on Tuesday at 11 a.m. at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 247 West Lovell, Kalamazoo. Please visit Marilyn’s webpage at www.lifestorynet.com where you can sign the guestbook and leave a memory and/or share a photo. Those who wish may make contributions to the Southwest Michigan Hospice and/or Vicksburg Community School Foundation.