Tuesday, November 21, 2017
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food and drinks will be served.
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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Gracious and kind, sensible and determined, patient and courageous, Anne Elizabeth (Verburg) Wolfe lived a whole-hearted life. A woman whose enthusiasm for life knew no bounds, Anne was a devoted wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. With a beautiful smile, an unwavering sense of service, and perpetual optimism, Anne welcomed everyone, gave much, and inspired many. Though our time with Anne was far too short, the power of her love will always illuminate our hearts and lives.
1971 was a year of many exciting new possibilities; National Public Radio (NPR) broadcasted for the first time, Walt Disney World Resort opened in Florida, and the 26th amendment lowered the voting age to 18. Amtrak, Federal Express, and Greenpeace came into being in 1971 and with the invention of the Microprocessor, the year marked the start of the digital age we now know. Nowhere was there more hope for the future than in Big Rapids, Michigan as Robert and Mary-Jo (Datema) Verburg welcomed their daughter Anne into their hearts and home on March 16th.
While Anne’s father, the Candy Man, provided for the family through his hard work as the owner of Crystal Candy Company (which Anne’s grandpa started), her mother was a talented homemaker. Growing up the oldest of the Verburg’s four children, Anne possessed a natural gift for leading others. From a very early age, Anne balanced helping care for her younger siblings while participating in band and tending to her schooling. She also mastered the arts of frugality and organization. She always had her ducks in a row and soon, what started out as a necessity in helping with her siblings, became access to paying for a car and school.
With a powerful sense of self-reliance, after graduating from Northview High School in 1989, Anne studied accounting at Western Michigan University. A few short years later, with her degree in hand, Anne began working at First of America Bank. It was here that she met the love of her life, Perry Wolfe. Anne and Perry both worked for FOA and one day while she was visiting his department they struck up a conversation and later began hanging out. Eventually, they started dating. While Anne became the branch manager, the couple’s love blossomed. A year after their first date they became engaged. On April 13, 1996, Anne and Perry exchanged vows at First United Methodist Church surrounded by family and friends. Upon returning home from a honeymoon in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, the happy couple made their home in Kalamazoo.
In 1998, Anne’s most joy-full adventure began with the birth of her first daughter, Marjorie. Anne relished in motherhood and enthusiastically chose to leave her career a year after Marjorie’s birth to fully devote herself to her family. Four years later Anne and Perry were blessed to welcome Laurel into their fold, and their family became complete upon the birth of Holly three years later.
With signature style, Anne embraced her role as mother with both joy and determination. Never one to so much as flinch in the face of a challenge, Anne was an undauntable stand for her daughters. Her warrior spirit was never more evident than in response to making sure Holly’s development was powerfully supported. As Holly was born with Down syndrome, Anne quickly became an advocate for inclusion, and she started a support group for others who faced similar challenges. She unhesitatingly took on educating others with Down syndrome, and her bulldog advocacy is credited with changing countless people’s perceptions. Anne held others to high standards; she never settled for mediocrity. A natural teacher herself, she effectively educated many local teachers and empowered them with the tools to be even better at what they do. Through this work, Anne recognized a clear calling and had plans to return to school to work towards a degree in education.
Anne was quick to offer her leadership skills and organizational talents in service of others. Over the years, The Winchell Neighborhood has enjoyed many rich traditions as the result of Anne’s passion and hard work. Anne was often the first to welcome new families to the neighborhood, usually with a full-bodied smile and a plate of homemade cookies. She started the neighborhood’s 4th of July bike parade and continued to organize it for fourteen years. She always added her energies to the luminaries at Christmas and did her part to assure epic Halloweens. Anne loved supporting Girls on the Run and the famous Bacon Station at the Kalamazoo Marathon proved one of her most delicious endeavors. For those who knew her best, it was abundantly clear that anything Anne sourced would be a guaranteed success and she’d give it her all without a hint of effort or ego!
The simple pleasure of spending time with others was Anne’s heart’s delight. Traveling to her family’s Upper Peninsula “Polar Bear” retreat to find respite from the daily hustle was a treasured gift for all. Kicking off her shoes and being barefooted, bonfires, puzzles, long walks, and the sound of laughter were Anne’s favorite things and being with her loved ones her greatest joy. Anne felt tremendously blessed to share such special moments connecting with her family.
Never was Anne’s resolve more clear than in response to her leukemia diagnosis a year and a half ago. Regardless of the daunting treatments, which included a stem-cell transplant from her brother, Anne remained extremely positive and practical. She was determined to figure it out and beat the disease; she refused to allow it to become her identity. Anne found comfort in continuing to do all that she could, including coaching Perry around the proper laundry techniques and cherishing her time with her girls. Even during her final days at Rose Arbor, she doted on the girls and continued to express her concerns over how Perry was going to do laundry, clean the house, and care for the girls.
Without a doubt, Anne taught us the true meaning of courage; choosing to live each moment centered in love and hope regardless of our fears. A safe harbor for all, she taught by example what it is to truly give from the heart and care for others as they need to be cared for. We are all better people for having had Anne’s loving example in our lives.
The world is significantly duller in the absence of Anne’s vibrant light. May it afford you deep comfort to lean into Anne’s mantra, “Think positive. Eat healthy. Be active. Find love in yourself and others. Be happy.” May we also find the courage to carry Anne’s legacy of embracing each person and every day as a gift going forward. With every kindness we extend to another and every fearless step we take, we keep Anne’s bright spirit alive in our hearts and lives where it will continue to emanate and inspire others.
Anne E. Wolfe, of Kalamazoo, age 46, died November 16, 2017, at Rose Arbor Hospice Residence. She was born March 16, 1971, in Big Rapids, the daughter of Robert and Mary-Jo (Datema) Verburg. She was preceded in death by her dad, Robert Verburg. Surviving are her husband of 21 years, Perry Wolfe, 3 daughters: Marjorie, Laurel and Holly; her mother, Mary-Jo Verburg; 3 siblings: Jebb (Kristin) Verburg, Allyssa (Tim) Shanahan and Katie (David) Michell; father and mother-in-law, Keene P. and Liza Wolfe; brother and sister-in-law: Sarah (David) Maurer and Andy Wolfe (Yvette Quigley) and many cousins, nieces and nephews. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and drinks on Tuesday from 4-7pm at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Services will be held Wednesday 10 am at the First United Methodist Church (212 S. Park Street). A reception will follow in the church hall. Please visit Anne’s personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com, where you can read her story, archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan or University of Michigan Comprehensive Center Fund for Discovery.