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Sarah VanDreumel Memorial Fund
Life Story / Obituary
Vibrant, loving, and gregarious, Sarah VanDreumel lived a wholehearted life centered in her devotion to those she loved. A woman who knew no stranger and had a gift for welcoming others into her heart and home, Sarah was a friend to all and an inspiration to many. Though her time here was much too short, Sarah’s legacy will live on in the hearts and lives of those she treasured most.
1983 was the year Swatch watches, Cabbage Patch dolls, and the Atari 5200 filled poured into our lives. The thrill of watching Sally Ride become the first American woman in space on the Space Shuttle Challenger’s maiden flight softened the end of an era with the final episode of M*A*S*H*. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi opened in theaters, Fraggle Rock made its debut on HBO, and the influential music of Michael Jackson and David Bowie gained in popularity. As the nation looked to the future with hope, nowhere was there more happy anticipation for the future than in hearts of Allen and Deborah (Wilson) Greiner of Shelby, MI as they welcomed their daughter Sarah into their family on January 15th.
Growing up as the oldest of the four Greiner kids: Sarah naturally possessed a generosity and zest for people that framed her entire life. Along with her siblings, Crystal, Tim, and AJ, Sarah attended Saints Peter and Paul Elementary School after the family moved to Grand Rapids. From a very early age, her gregarious personality and genuine care for others meant she was often everyone’s best friend. Sarah never met a stranger, rather all people were friends waiting to be made.
Sarah’s love of people was only equal to her interest in art. She liked all mediums and over the years tried her hand at many of them, including fashion which was evident in her unique sense of style which authentically reflected her unique and attractive personality.
After attending Grandville High School for a time, Sarah left school at the end of 10th grade. One of her favorite teen hangouts was at Big Melons coffee shop on Leonard St. She spent her time drinking coffee, playing pool, and enjoying the good company of her fellow patrons. It didn’t take long for her to catch the eye of bouncer Joe VanDreumel who was instantly smitten with Sarah. Though she wasn’t interested in Joe, he proved undauntable in his quest for her heart and with persistence and time he got his much desired first date.
The pair quickly fell in love and were married shortly after Sarah’s 18th birthday on February 21, 2001, in a ceremony at City Hall. Soon the happy young couple joyfully welcomed their children Angel and Skyler into their home, and a tremendous sense of completeness enveloped the family.
Sarah relished in family life. A deeply devoted wife and mother, Sarah found true joy in creating a loving home that focused on the children. She enjoyed her pregnancies, tending to her babies, and sharing each moment of their growth. She and her sister Crystal spent many a good time creating art for the children and enhancing the home with their personal touches. She loved picking out clothes for the babies and was always taking pictures of her precious people to help capture her delight. She and Joe spent hours together fishing and enjoying the quiet of the inland lakes and drama at the Pier. Joe was Sarah’s beloved, and he was hers. Though they didn’t always agree with one another, their love and loyalty proved unshakable; they truly were each other’s whole life.
While Sarah’s focus was centered on her family, her home was a welcome haven for others. With an open door policy for all, many a friend sought the comforts of Sarah’s good company at all hours of the day and night. No one was ever turned away from Sarah’s generosity, and she never hesitated to share her money, home, food, confidence, drive, and generous heart.
In January of 2010, Joe enlisted in the Army. With a desire to provide a good life for his family, he left for boot camp at Fort Knox in Kentucky and then was sent to GrafenWoehr, Germany. Sarah and the kids eventually joined him in Germany where they enjoyed being together as a family before he was deployed to Afghanistan.
On August 14, 2011, Joe was killed in Southeast Afghanistan by a roadside bomb during a vehicle recovery mission. Though Sarah and the children returned to Coopersville, Sarah’s heart was buried with Joe’s. Her signature spunk and zest for life were choked out by her immeasurable grief and her will to live withered. Soon her health began to suffer, and various challenges occurred. In time, Sarah developed respiratory issues that resulted in several recent hospitalizations. After losing consciousness at home, she was rushed to St. Mary’s where it was soon revealed that she had been without oxygen for too long and the family made the difficult decision to remove life support. On February 5, 2018, Sarah died in the company of her family who lovingly gathered at her side.
Without a doubt, the world is markedly duller without Sarah’s bright spirit. Though her departure has resulted in unimaginable grief, may our hearts be comforted by the faith that Sarah’s light shines on in each of our lives. Each time we enjoy something sweet--especially brownies, read an adventure like Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter, watch a comedy or love story, welcome the sweet-melancholy of Autumn, delight in a glass of sweet tea or iced coffee, or witness the twinkle in Angel and Skyler’s eyes, we celebrate Sarah’s legacy and the gratitude we have for the time we shared with her. In so doing, Sarah’s light will always continue to shine.
Mrs. Sarah VanDreumel, aged 35, passed away on February 5, 2018. She was preceded in death by her husband, Cpl. Joseph A. VanDreumel. Sarah is survived by her children, Angel and Skyler; father, Allen Greiner; mother, Deborah Greiner; sister, Crystal (Alan) Conklin, brothers, Tim Greiner and A.J. Greiner; grandmother, LaVerle Greiner; sister-in-law, Amanda (James) Chenoweth; brother-in-law, Adam (Holly) VanDreumel; father and mother-in-law, Dennis and Karen VanDreumel; niece , Lily; and nephews, Joshua, Elliott, Alan, Max, Chevy, and Colton. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 AM on Friday, February 9, 2018 at Holy Spirit Parish, 2230 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Friends and family will gather from 9:30-11 AM on Friday at the church. Interment in Rosedale Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory may be made to: https://www.gofundme.com/sarah-vandreumel-memorial-fund. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read Sarah’s life story, archive a memory, photo, or to sign the guestbook online.