Rosemary Van Arkel

Rosemary Ann Van Arkel

Wednesday, September 5th, 1928 - Saturday, September 5th, 2020
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Rosemary Ann Van Arkel, 92, formerly of St. Joseph, passed away, Saturday, September 5, 2020 at White Oak Nursing Home in Lawton, Michigan.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 10:00 A.M. Saturday, September 12, 2020 at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 211 Church St., St. Joseph, with Fr. Arul Lazar officiating. Burial will follow at North Shore Memory Gardens in Coloma. Friends may visit with the family from 4:00 until 7:00 P.M. Friday, with the Rosary recited at 6:30 P.M. at Starks & Menchinger Chapel, 2650 Niles Rd., St. Joseph. Social Distancing & masks will be required. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Rosemary’s name may be made to Birthright, Lake Michigan Catholic Schools or Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. Those wishing to sign Rosemary’s Memory Book online & view a video of the Mass of Christian Burial may do so at video will be available beginning Sunday, September 13, 2020.

Rosemary was born September 5, 1928 in Roseland, Illinois to Paul & Helen (Lipnican) Valacak. The family moved to Southwest Michigan and she graduated from St. John’s Catholic High School in Benton Harbor, class of 1947, where she was a cheerleader, voted Home Coming Queen, and played on the girl’s soft ball team. After high school, Rosemary worked at Voice of Music Corporation in Benton Harbor and on July 1, 1950, married Robert W. Van Arkel at St. John’s Catholic Church in Benton Harbor. Rosemary devoted her life to caring for her home and family & was active in the PTA when her children were in school. After the children were grown, she worked the holidays at Crystal Springs Florist for many years, later as a cashier at Derby Store, and ended her career as a banquet waitress at Benton Harbor Holiday Inn Banquet Center for twenty plus years. She was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in St. Joseph and Holy Maternity of Mary Catholic Church in Dowagiac. She led the Saturday morning Rosary group for many years. In her free-time, Rosemary enjoyed tending to her flower gardens, arranging the flowers into beautiful bouquets, sewing, making all kinds of crafts, and cherished the time spent with her family and many friends.

Rosemary is survived by her children-Karen (William) Barnes of Portage, MI, Roseann (Jerry) Lowry of Kalamazoo, Robert G. Van Arkel of Grand Ledge, MI, Kevin Van Arkel of Benton Harbor, Michael (Delinda) Van Arkel of Berrien Center; fifteen grandchildren; twenty-eight great-grandchildren; five great-great-grandchildren; her brother Thomas (Irene) Valacak of Midlothian, IL; her sister Joann Shane of Benton Harbor; and numerous nieces & nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband Robert on September 9, 2015, her daughter-in-law Sarah Van Arkel on July 25, 2017, her brother-in-law Phillip Shane, and siblings-Paul, Cyril, Vince & Frank Valacak, Mary Johnson, Helen Valacak, Margaret Murach & Agatha Filush.

“An Angel among Us”
A Tribute to the Life of
Rosemary Ann Van Arkel
By Bob Van Arkel & Monica Chirbas
(Born on September 5, 1928 – passed on her 92nd Birthday, September 5, 2020)

Rosemary was born on September 5th, 1928 in Roseland, Illinois to Paul & Helen (Lipnicen) Valacak. After the Great Depression, the family moved from Chicago to “The Farm”, located in Benton Harbor, MI. Shortly after moving, their large Victorian house burnt to the ground and the family was forced to live in the chicken coop. There were 13 children in the family, but two departed at a young age. Of the ten other children she was raised with, there were 5 boys and 5 girls. Rosemary was the 3rd youngest. There is no way that we can recall all the memories of the last 92 years, but we hope that some of the memories documented here will remind you of days gone by and time spent with the person we got to call “Mom”.
Rosemary graduated from St. John’s Catholic High School in Benton Harbor, Class of 1947, where she was a cheerleader, voted Home Coming Queen and played on the girls’ softball team. There she met the Love of her life, Robert W. Van Arkel, whom she married on July 1, 1950 at St. John’s Catholic Church. You wonder how someone from a large family gets drawn to an only child. Maybe Mom just wanted a few less distractions and less teasing in her future!! Through the years they would celebrate their anniversaries together with their good friends the Hocker’s, Conrad’s and Long’s. Prior to their wedding, Bob and Rosemary built their house on Glenlord Road which would become the home they would raise their five children: Karen, Roseann, Robert, Kevin and Michael. It was there that Mom and Dad taught us that with the Love of God and a smile you can make a lasting impression on everyone you touch.
Rosemary was a loving and religious person with strong moral beliefs. She worked hard to instill good Christian values with her children. It seemed like she always did everything right. She taught her children by example. When she worked at the neighbor’s farm, we would go with her and help out. Maybe we did not work very hard, but it was her way to keep an eye on us and teach us to be responsible and help other people. You learned to work hard and find a way to get through the day. For the times you didn’t feel so well she had little remedies to help you feel better like: peppermint oil and hot water for an upset stomach, honey and lemon in hot water for a sore throat, or Vicks rubbed on your chest to help you breath better. Who knows if they really worked or if it was just that you felt better because you could tell that your Mom loved you! But it was hard to find the love when she brought out the wooden spoon to discipline you. WOW, sometimes that really hurt !!! Looking back, it seems like she was giving us little building blocks that would help us later in life.
Rosemary’s favorite colors were purple and red. She was wearing purple the day she passed from this life. She loved chocolates, blueberries, her flowers, birds (especially Cardinals) the Blessed Virgin Mary, Christmas, saying the Rosary, Angels and her family (especially her children, Grandchildren, Great-grandchildren and Great-Great-grandchildren). She loved to see children laugh, smile and having fun. When they first moved out to the lake, there was a little ice cream shop across the road, about mid-afternoon she enjoyed telling the kids, “OK – it’s time for ice cream!” Oh, there were lots of happy screams then! I hope our children realize how lucky they were to have Grandparents that lived so long, loved to see their Grandchildren and were part of their lives.

Now please let me take a break from my thoughts because I would like to read something prepared by Monica Chirbas that captures how I believe many of us feel, and she titled it:

“Our Sweet Grandma”

Our sweet, beautiful grandma left this earth last week and made her way into heaven. While I am so happy that she is free from pain and is rejoicing with the angels, it is hard to let her go. She was an amazing woman of God and the most faithful women you would ever meet. She loved Jesus and everyone knew it. Even during hard times, her faith never wavered, and we are honored to have called her ours. She taught us well through her words and actions over her lifetime.

Her passing has caused me to reflect on the impact that she has had on my life, so today I’m sharing a few lessons that she has left me that I hope to carry on as a part of her legacy and I hope that others will be inspired by her life through my words.

My grandma was what you would call a prayer warrior. She diligently prayed for everyone and everything daily. In fact, on many family occasions it was normal to find her sitting in her chair holding her rosary and saying her daily prayers as we all gathered together. I truly believe that one of her main callings in life was the power of prayer.

She was an amazing woman of faith, courage, and grace. But more than that she was a warrior. Every day she prayed faithfully for all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and anyone else that needed it. She battled for every one of us, stormed the gates of hell and claimed her family for the kingdom of God. Her warrior prayers broke bondages, healed brokenness, and declared freedom.

You taught us love and how to live the way God created us. You gave us strength; you gave us might. She taught us to have faith, to trust God, and to believe he has a plan. She taught us how to properly bargain shop and take $10 to stretch to $50. So, every time I see a clearance area, I will always remember you as I bargain shop to continue to make you proud. She taught me that even faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain. I am eternally grateful for her faithfulness that has impacted generations and I pray that we will one day have the same impact. You fought for us all in one way or another. Not just as a wife not just as a mother. For all of us you gave your best.

She never took anything she had for granted, and she never took credit for anything she had done. She gave God the credit, and she encouraged others to do the same. She continually talked about how blessed she was and how much God had done for her. I truly believe that it was her thankful attitude that sustained her, and it is what kept her going through the trials of her life.

Grandma was a giver by nature. I do not think anyone who ever truly knew her could deny that fact. She gave in so many ways. She gave financially to her church, to worthy causes, and to her family.

I have thought a lot about what grandma would want me to say to all of you today and what she would want the final thoughts about her life to be. I know that most of what she wanted to say to all of us has already been said by her, but I also believe that she would want all of us to know that she lived a good life. She would want us to know that she was happy and that even though her life was not always easy she enjoyed every aspect of it. She would want us to know that love is the answer to every problem that we face. She would want us to know that when we show love and acceptance, we always get that in return. She would not want us to have any regrets about the time we spent or did not spend with her or the things we said or did not say to her. She would want us to know that she fully comprehends the meaning of life and that all her questions have been answered. She would want all of us to live the best life we can live, and she would want us to continue the work that she did on this earth and to continue to say our daily prayers. That is the thing that all of us need to remember. We all have a calling on our lives. Grandma had a calling on her life that she took very seriously and performed up to her last breath. I have a calling on my life, and all of you have a calling on your life. She would want us to feverishly answer that call and not to fight what God is telling us to do. She always told me, “If God tells you to do something, even if you think you cannot do it, you should do it.” She wants that for me, and she wants that for all of you. Grandma’s life had great meaning and she performed her tasks with all that she had. She made mistakes and failed many times, but that never stopped her from moving forward. She learned from her mistakes. She allowed them to make her stronger, and she shared the lessons she learned with everyone she knew. She would want all of us to do the same thing.

If God allowed grandma to witness everything that is happening today, I know that she would be very pleased. She would be proud of all of us, and she would be overwhelmed by the outpouring of love we all have for her. I can almost see her standing at the back of the room next to God watching all of this. I can see her smiling and nodding her head and saying, “Yes, that’s right.” I can even see her smiling at God and saying as she looks to the front of the room, “She must have been a wonderful woman.” Indeed, she was a wonderful woman, and I am so thankful to call her my grandma.

In closing, one more warrior has gone on to rest. Grandma, my angel, go in peace, your love in our hearts we will eternally keep.

Monica, that was beautiful. You sure are one of Grandma’s Angels.
Thank You for letting me share that with everyone.

Early in life Mom would pray the rosary and pray to St. Francis. I remember every Sunday evening when we would be driving home from the Farm that we would say the rosary, and do not even try to fall asleep during that rosary!!! But it was in the early 1970’s that Mom probably picked it up a notch in terms of prayers. That is when she was diagnosed with a tumor and she prayed the rosary and prayed to Blessed Mary telling her that she would dedicate her life to Mary and pray the rosary every day if the tumor was found to be benign. It was benign and Rosemary became a praying machine. Many people saw Mom as a religious person and would ask her to pray for them in their time of need. She said prayers daily for many people, and not just family. Many of us here today believe in the “Power of Prayer” and how Our Mom’s prayers and the prayers of many people were lifted up to God in asking for the healing power over our brother Mike.
Mom let you know that prayer did not have to be complicated. She would say that if you were having trouble in life, praying something as simple as “Jesus, Mary and Joseph pray for me, please help me” would be heard by God. Then you could fill in what you needed help with. And for good measure she would say three Hail Mary’s. Mom kept her promise to Mary and prayed the rosary often. That means more than once a day. She led prayer groups at church and led the rosary in church on the first Saturday of every month.
So, anyone who knows Mom well enough to stop by her house knows she loves Angels. All the Grandchildren know that she loves Angels. All kind of angels. She had an Angel Christmas tree. They were everywhere! And you kids learned that they were not toys to be played with !!! I looked up the word Angel in the Webster’s New World Dictionary and they describe an angel as: a messenger of God, a guiding spirit or influence or a person regarded as being as beautiful, good or innocent as an angel.
Mom always called her care givers at White Oaks Nursing Home her Angels. It was especially comforting for our family to know that her care givers were there, taking Mom under their wings when we could not be there. They comforted Mom, prayed and sang to Mom as she celebrated her 92nd birthday and made her way to heaven to be with God. Mom always told me “she was supposed to go to heaven before Dad and she was mad that he left her to be here by herself”. But none of us knows God’s plan, and it appears that our family needed five extra years of prayers out of Momma before her job was done here on earth. Monica stated it so well, Grandma was a prayer warrior. Who knows how many prayers were said in those five years? I for one am so grateful for those extra prayers that Momma offered up for me when I was hurting so bad after losing Sarah, for my brother Mike when we were so close to losing him, for my Grandson Kyrie when he needed a cochlear implant and so many others that made it to her prayer list. I find comfort in knowing that Mom is in heaven looking down on us and that she will continue to pray for us, because a warrior never quits.

Thank You Mom for everything you taught us and gave us. May God bless you as one of his precious Angels and most faithful servants. Mom, we LOVE YOU !!!

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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Friday, September 11th, 2020 | 4:00pm - 7:00pm
    Friday, September 11th, 2020 4:00pm - 7:00pm
    Starks & Menchinger Chapel
    2650 Niles Rd.
    St. Joseph, MI 49085
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    The Rosary will be recited at 6:30 P.M. Friday at the funeral home.
  • Service

    Saturday, September 12th, 2020 | 10:00am
    Saturday, September 12th, 2020 10:00am
    St. Joseph Catholic Church - St. Joseph
    211 Church St.
    St. Joseph, MI 49085
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Social Distancing & Masks will be required. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Birthright, Lake Michigan Catholic Schools or Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.
  • Interment

    North Shore Memory Gardens
    5027 M-63 North
    Coloma, MI 49038
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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1 tree has been planted in memory of Rosemary Ann Van Arkel

Lake Michigan Catholic School

Posted at 11:44am
We pray the love of God enfolds you during your journey through grief.
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A memorial tree was planted in the memory of Rosemary Van Arkel — Plant a Tree Now

Darcy Eisenhart Stuck

Posted at 08:53pm
On behalf of (Louie & Gladys Eisenhart’s family) my brothers Dennis, Darrell, Darwin and myself (Darcy), would like to offer our sincere condolences to Karen, Roseann, Rob, Kevin and Mike in the loss of your mother. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and your families. On a personal note, I always thought of your parents as the Ward & June Cleaver of our neighborhood. I will also always think fondly of your mom and dad whenever I see blue Christmas lights. Those lights were my favorite!

Dave and Donna kerschbaum

Posted at 09:57am
Thinking of you all and just think she is with her love once again! Your mom and dad were so special to me, may they Rest In Peace!❤️

Darwin Eisenhart

Posted at 08:47pm
Rosemary and Bob Van Arkel were close friends with my parents, Louis and Gladys Eisenhart of Glenlord Rd. near Scottdale, southeast of St. Joe, MI., and they were both named my Godparents at my Baptism in the St. Joseph Catholic Church on Valentine's Day, February 14, 1960, when I was 15 days old. My condolences to the family and close friends for this difficult separation from Rosemary. Prayers from me and my family for your comfort, and positive thoughts in hopes that we will all join our loved ones spiritually in Heaven for eternity. ~ Darwin & LuAnn Eisenhart and sons Jared, Justin & Joshua.

Ruth A Heyn

Posted at 07:54pm
To Karen and the rest of the family, know of my prayers at your loss. Your mom was a very special lady. I know she will be greatly missed. Blessings!

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