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Life Story / Obituary
There is no one who met Vicki Smith who left unchanged as she was gentle, accepting, nurturing, and gracious without an unkind word to say about anyone. After spending only a few moments with her it was easy to see that her life was based on something richer, some deeper, and that something was her faith. Although she was never overbearing or boisterous in her beliefs, Vicki was not afraid to share the reason for the joy in her heart. She was deeply devoted to her family, and there were numerous young people who were changed because of her love. Life will never be the same without Vicki here, but her laughter, her love, and her unwavering devotion to the people and the things she cherished will never be forgotten.
It seems only fitting that Vicki’s story began during a time that was as vibrant as she was. It was the Nifty Fifties when Elvis was king, I Love Lucy transformed the way we viewed the American family, and James Dean made young girls swoon on the silver screen. It was on June 6, 1951, that Travis and Lois Dalrymple announced the birth of their daughter, Vicki, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Raised in the family home in Parchment, she was the youngest of four children in her family as she joined her siblings, Woody, Gail, and Wanda. As a girl Vicki was loving, kindhearted, and generous with a spirit of adventure and a mischievous side mixed in.
For the most part, Vicki was a typical young girl of her generation. She learned a rather unique way of knitting because not only was she left-handed, but she was also taught by her blind friend. Summers were spent catching tadpoles, playing baseball with the neighborhood kids, and going to Milham Golf Course to catch night crawlers with her grandma, “Ma,” and Tony for their annual fishing trip. Vicki was a bit of a tomboy who wore shorts under her skirts so she could hang upside down on the monkey bars.
It was during her formative years that she became a Christian as she caught the church bus downtown to attend services at Bethel Baptist Church. She gave her life to Christ in 1964. Church activities were a vital part of her life as a teen, and in 1976 she was baptized. In high school Vicki learned to sew, which was a passion throughout her life. She attended local schools and also became the first member of her family to graduate from college when she earned her degree from Western Michigan University. With certain things, Vicki was a late bloomer as she learned to ride a two-wheel bike at the ripe old age of 24, and it was just a short time later that she learned to drive a car!
Life was forever changed for Vicki when she met the love of her life in 1989. His name was Don Smith, and they met on a blind date set up by her ex-fiancé. That date led to more dates, and it was not long after they met that Vicki felt the Holy Spirit tell her that Don was going to ask her to marry him. Although he was protestant while she was Catholic, she felt an overwhelming peace about it and knew that she should accept his proposal. Vicki always said that she had found the bridge between her faith and Don’s faith and was proud to claim that she was a part of both faiths and the One God.
She and her husband were a great pair who enjoyed many of the same things such as camping. At first they had a tent and later a popup camper; but, after several years and an unfortunate run-in between Vicki and a raccoon while using the porta-pottie, they graduated to a tag-along trailer with a refrigerator and an inside toilet. Vicki and Don also traveled all over to places like Boston, Disney World, the Wisconsin Dells, and even Hawaii as well as on a cruise of the Eastern Caribbean. Sadly, they were not able to make it to Alaska for their 25th anniversary in June as they had hoped.
Throughout her life Vicki cherished her loved ones. Although she had spent some time in the workforce, she felt the calling to leave the workforce to focus her time and attention on caring for Don, taking care of the household tasks, and creating a home. Although she never had biological children, Vicki took on an active role in raising Don’s teenagers. When these teenagers became adults and later had babies, she became a proud grandma, or “Gram” as she called herself. Vicki loved making them homemade treats, and she also loved coming to cheer them on in their events and activities. Since goodbye always seemed so permanent to Vicki, she decided that “Tootles” was a much better response when her friends and loved ones told her goodbye.
As her family and friends can attest, Vicki was a woman of many interests. She loved photography, primarily taking pictures of family and nature, and she had the most amazing eye for capturing the perfect shot. She used many of her pictures to make cards of various kinds to give to family and friends. Vicki could often be found working out in her flower gardens as she had quite the green thumb, which was easy to see. Even beautiful wildflowers along the road were cause for Vicki to marvel. As a young adult she became interested in collecting turtles, and it has been said that she loved dancing to Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It” as loud as it would go.
When it came to Vicki, nothing was ordinary. Whether she was sending out a handmade card, hosting garden parities for her friends, having a candlelight dinner for Don, or using her creative flair to make something beautiful out in the community, she gave everything her all. For years she decorated the communion table at Kalamazoo Free Methodist Church where her inspiration was usually led by the Holy Spirit. Vicki’s faith was extraordinary and very personal to her. She treasured her Bible and made a habit of underlining passages as they spoke to her heart. As she became ill, Vicki felt a sense of urgency to share her faith with those around her. Her faith sustained her during her painful last days, but she was so blessed to be cared for by angels all along the way.
With endless amounts of love for all who were within her reach, Vicki Smith was a blessing in every way. Through her selfless acts of service, unending compassion toward others, and dedication to growing in her own faith, she exemplified what it means to be the hands and feet of the Lord she loved. Vicki will be forever missed.
Vicki L. Smith died on Saturday, May 16, 2015. Members of her family include her husband, Don; 3 stepdaughters: Michelle (Dennis) Caskey, Melanie (Tim) Rankin, Melissa (Daynon) Peebles, 2 sisters: Gail (Tom) Walton, Wanda (Mike) Holewa, 7 grandchildren: Carson, Ben, Sam, Brycen, Morgan, Kenadie, Paityn; and numerous nieces and nephews whom she loved dearly. Vicki was preceded in death by her parents, Travis and Lois Dalrymple; brother, Woody Dalrymple; and stepson, Mike Smith. Learn more about Vicki by visiting with her friends and family with food and refreshments from 4-8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (375-2900). Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday at the same location and burial will be in the East Cooper Cemetery. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can share a favorite memory. Memorial Contributions may be made to Rose Arbor Hospice, West Michigan Cancer Center, or Ballet Arts Ensemble of Kalamazoo.