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.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN 38105
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Life Story / Obituary
Although there were so many things that were important to Shirley Van Allsburg, nothing was more near and dear to her heart than her beloved family. She was a kindhearted and generous woman who loved talking to people wherever she went. A loving wife and devoted mother, Shirley was filled with unspeakable joy to witness her family tree blossom to include her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Funny and even feisty at times, she was the sort of person who knew what she wanted, and her love for life was contagious to all who were near. Deeply loved, Shirley will never be forgotten.
The 1920s are often recalled as the Roaring Twenties as the decade was one of great excitement, progress, and prosperity. It was during this time that the silent film era ended and the lights of Broadway shined brightly while Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb made baseball America’s favorite pastime. Also during this time was a time to celebrate in the lives of William and Josephine (Michaelson) Mansfield as they welcomed a healthy baby girl into their hearts and home on December 4, 1927, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As the middle of three children, she joined her older sister, Betty, in the family and later on her brother, Bill, completed their family.
Shirley was raised in the family home on Ann Street, NE, and experienced a fairly typical upbringing. Her father worked as a painter while her mother focused her attention at home. Although she was rather petite in stature, Shirley was fiercely protective of her younger brother despite his strength and size. She attended Catholic Central High School and also worked as a soda jerk in a drugstore downtown. Always adventurous, Shirley often took the train to Canada near Montreal with a friend. She went on to graduate from high school in 1945.
Not to be forgotten during her years as a young woman was Shirley’s introduction to the young man who would forever hold the key to her heart. His name was Floyd Van Allsburg, and he hung around with her cousins. After the end of WWII in 1945, they were set up on a date by some friends. Although Shirley was a bit feisty and was known for running off a lot of boys, Floyd was different and took care of her. That date led to more dates, and after a couple of years the sweethearts were married on August 13, 1949, at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church. The newlyweds spent their honeymoon in a family member’s travel trailer at Wolf Lake and then returned to Grand Rapids. They settled into a place, and Shirley worked at Keeler Brass while Floyd worked for Kelvinator. Eventually, they moved into Floyd’s family home at 3455 Butterworth Street, SW, and this was the place Shirley called home for the rest of her life.
It was in their home that Shirley and Floyd raised their six children, Sue, Judy, Floyd, Laura, Beth, and Amy. Their home was filled with plenty of laughter, especially when they were having one of their regular water fights. Shirley was actively involved in her children’s lives including as a den mother, a bluebirds leader, and also in the PTA. Shirley was the one to teach Amy to drive since her cancer kept her from taking the mainstream driver’s training. As a family they enjoyed camping with Mackinaw being one of their favorite places in the days before the Mackinaw Bridge was even constructed. They also camped up near the Upper Peninsula.
Throughout her life Shirley was a woman of many interests. She was an amazing seamstress who made wedding dresses, Halloween costumes, and clothes for her kids, and she enjoyed knitting, too. Always creative, Shirley also made the most amazing wood fiber flowers that looked just like real flowers. Perhaps what Shirley was most known for was her cooking as it was so good that others often encouraged her to open her own restaurant. Among her many dishes, her baked beans and potato salad were a couple of her specialties. The summers found Shirley hosting numerous cookouts. Also a talented baker, she made fantastic lemon pies from scratch. Shirley enjoyed tending to her rose bushes, and when relaxing she liked watching various sports like Notre Dame football and even big time wrestling. She was also a fan of watching the Detroit Tigers on television, and she went to a couple of games in person. Later in life she and Floyd camped at Hidden Ridge located South of Grand Rapids. They also traveled a bit including a trip to California, New York, and they also went on a cruise. Closer to home, they visited family in Kalamazoo. She enjoyed big band music and also danced, the “Shirley Shuffle.” Shirley was forced to slow down during the last few years of her life as her health declined. After spending some time in the hospital, she was thankful to finally return home.
Truly beautiful on the inside and out, Shirley Van Allsburg was a blessing to everyone she met. She could be a bit feisty and wild at times, yet her heart was as big as they come. Known as Shrimpy to some, Shirley was truly one of a kind. She had a fun-loving personality that drew others near with ease, and she was so funny, too. A loving and selfless wife, mother, and grandmother, Shirley will be forever missed.
Van Allsburg – Mrs. Shirley Y. Van Allsburg aged 88, of Grand Rapids, loving wife, mother, grandmother, and aunt, passed away on February 8, 2016. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Amy Van Allsburg and son, Floyd Jr. Shirley is survived by her husband of 66 years, Floyd; daughters, Judy Van Allsburg, Laura Van Allsburg, Beth Van Allsburg, and Susan (Arnold) De Ruiter; grandchildren, Christiana and William; two great-grandchildren; sister-in-law, Norma Mansfield; and many beloved nieces and nephews. Cremation has taken place. Friends are invited to visit with her family from 5-8 PM on Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. N.W. Contributions in her memory may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read her lifestory, archive a memory, photo, or sign the guestbook online.