Maynard Blair Van Roekel
Zoon van Arthur Henry Van Roekel en Nellie Carlyn Breuklander, geboren 2-5-1933 USA IA Oskaloosa, overleden 1-9-2023
Trouwt 10-8-1957 Sarah Elizabeth (Betty) Porter, dochter van Reed Porter en Margaret Yard, geboren 5-1-1932 USA CO Pueblo, overleden 13-7-2006 USA IA Des Moines,
I met Betty at the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Denver, CO. I was a young airman in a new city. The Church had a young people group which I joined. The first time I remember seeing Betty was when she was playing the piano at someoneís house after our group meeting. We were both in the choir so I got to know her. It may not have been love at first sight, but she was pretty.
I dated others before asking Betty out. She was on a mission work trip on the Navaho Reservation to fix up a church at Ojato. While there she sent me a nice card about her trip. I started to think about her and asked her out. We hit it right off. I was finishing my school at the Air Base and being a top student they asked me to be an instructor. That meant I would not be going overseas. I asked Betty to marry me and I needed her help to put me through college, since I was getting no financial help! Her friends thought she was out of her mind and told her so! They told her I would drop her as soon as I did not need her support. Good thing she did not listen to them and married me anyway. Only found out about it all this many years later. She also gave me three great kids while I was in college.
Speaking of great kids, I must tell you they are the product of Betty and Bettyís mother who lived with us many years. I was just the guy who came home sometimes and did the driving on our long vacations out West!
Betty worked full time so we could help the kids with college, if they went to a public college in IA. After they all finished, I got a chance to retire early. Betty saw I was enjoying retirement so she quit work. We started going to Prescott, AZ for three or four months each winter. We joined the hiking club and met many new friends. It was like having two lives. After 10 years of going to AZ we both got to the point we could not hike anymore, so stayed home. We both missed the group in Prescott. Betty was into weaving, quilting, sewing and crafts. She and Kathy sold these items at craft shows and Sievers. She worked on prayer shawls for others, and was happy to get one back. She enjoyed the womenís circles and Wednesday coffee group and attended regularly.
Betty was my constant source of strength and joy. I miss her already.
Maynard. Read by Rev. Rich Harbart
Sarah Elizabeth (Betty) Van Roekel, 74 - beloved wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, and friend - died Thursday July 13, 2006 from complications after battling Lou Gehrigís disease for several months.
Memorial services are planned for Saturday, July 22, 2006 at Covenant Presbyterian Church in West Des Moines, IA where Betty had been a member for 40 years. For more details, please contact Dunnís Iles Funeral Home at (515) 244-2121. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Sterling College in Sterling, Kansas; the American Cancer Society, or the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Betty was born to Reed and Margaret Porter in Pueblo, Colorado on January 5, 1932. She graduated from Sterling College with a Bachelorís in Chemistry before moving to Kansas City for training as a medical technologist. She later moved to Denver, Colorado, where she met her husband singing in the church choir. Together they moved to Boone, IA where she worked as a medical technologist at Boone County Hospital while raising three children and supporting her husband during his studies at IA State University. Later they moved to West Des Moines where she worked at Pathology Associates until her retirement in 1992.
She is survived by her husband of 49 years, Maynard Van Roekel of Johnston, IA, their three children: Kathy, Karen and Kirk, and eight nieces and nephews. Her daughter Kathy resides in IA Falls with her husband Phil Broer and their children Sarah and Henry. Karen lives in Alexandria, Virginia. Kirk lives in Wimberly, Texas with his wife Young Souk and step daughter Sarah Clark. She was preceded in death by her parents, sister, and brother-in-law.
Betty was an avid quilter, weaver, and seamstress. Church was a central part of her life. She sang alto in the church choir in West Des Moines for years, was active in the Womenís Circle, and had served as an elder. She loved the Southwestern United States, traveling, and camping with her family. Betty was a kind soul who was known for her loving gestures towards her family and friends, and she was always willing to put their needs ahead of her own. She will be sorely missed.
Eulogy for Sarah Elizabeth (Betty) Porter Van Roekel
by Karen Van Roekel, her daughter
As I prepare to give this eulogy, I pray that I will be able to do justice to her life with my words...
Many of you know the basic facts of her life: born in Pueblo, Colorado in 1932 during the Great Depression. She and her older sister Ruth were raised by their hard working parents - Margaret and Reed Porter - in a converted milk shed on her grandfatherís dairy land. Mom learned to make do with very little and to be thankful for Godís blessings.
She lost her father at the age of 17, and struggled to make ends meet. But she was a good student and was very active. She played violin in the orchestra, sang in the chorus, participated in the Christmas Pageant. She graduated in the upper 3% of her high school class of 350. This achievement earned her a valedictorian scholarship to Sterling College in Kansas. She was very active in Sterling in YWCA, Womenís Gospel Team, Choir, Honor Roll, Homecoming (as Chairman and Attendant), and - something I did not realize until we were going through old photos - she was crowned Garden Party Queen her sophomore year! We have a photo of that on display outside along with her yearbooks! She graduated from Sterling with a Bachelorís in Chemistry in 1954 and remained in contact with her best friends for another 50 years!
Mom trained as a Medical Technologist at the Research Hospital in Kansas City, MO for one year and was featured in their newsletter a couple times. She then moved to Denver, CO in 1956. She met my dad, Maynard Van Roekel, in church in Denver. Dad told me one time that he knew she was interested when she went on a trip and sent him a postcard! They married in 1957 and were together for 49 years, through the births of three children and the addition of three grandchildren to the family, through the deaths of their parents and momís sister and other family members, through marriages and divorce in their children, siblings and friends, through job changes, moves, and all the other challenges that come with nearly a half century of life together. Through it all, we never saw them doubt each other or the strength of their commitment to one another. They were a model for us of what a relationship should be and what to strive for.
When I try to put into words who my mom was, I think of her as a quiet, unassuming person, working in the background to get the job done (whatever it might be), not caring whether she was the person in the spotlight or not. I think of expressions of her devotion to her family in loving gestures like making quilts for us, making our clothes, weaving shawls and placemats, making our Halloween costumes, teaching us to color Easter eggs, teaching us to bake cookies and cook and sew and knit and crochet. She even taught some of us who are mechanically challenged to drive a car with a stick shift!
When I left for the Peace Corps in Senegal, Mom packed a huge box of cookies in my suitcase. My first few days in the training site, I made countless friends by walking up to strangers and saying, "Would you like to try some of the cookies my mom made for me?" People laughed, but they loved it.
Mom could sometimes have an uncanny knack for knowing when one of us was in trouble or needed help. Rather than asking questions, she would offer support in other ways like sending me a plane ticket to go visit my sister the year I lived in Colombia and could not afford to go home over Christmas.
My best memories of her are from our family vacations, going out west as kids, making bannock bread in the skillet, camping in a pop up trailer, seeing national parks... Then as an adult, she came to visit me in Morocco with Kathy and Phil when I was in the Peace Corps. We all traveled to Spain and France and then Mom and I went on to Italy together. Later on, I went with Mom and Dad to see Alaskaís Inside Passage, and several times Mom and Dad came to visit me in DC. In 2004, Mom and I went to England where we vacationed briefly with Kathy and her family, and then on to Scotland to see where her fatherís family had originated. I can still remember her gentle voice reminding me "Drive on the left ... Left ... the other left!" Little gasps when I strayed too far into the middle of the road or off to the side (Oops!), but never a complaint.
And now as I prepare to become a parent through adoption, I can only hope that I will be half the mother she was. I feel blessed to have had her calm presence in my life for my first 43 years. I would have loved to have had it for the next 40 as well! I am reminded of a country music song that says if I could wish for just one thing, Iíd wish for another day with you, but then again, when that day was over, Iíd still wish for one more. However much time you have with loved ones, it will never feel like it was enough.
Momís diagnosis with ALS came on April 25-th. We knew that Momís diagnosis meant that she was facing a terminal illness. We all struggled with how best to help her face it, but Mom herself even managed to find something good about the diagnosis, telling me that she was glad it was nothing that would affect her mind.
One about 1 week before the diagnosis, I had received the photos and descriptions of the two children I hope to adopt. I considered that a sign of Godís great mercy that first we got the good news! For me, the contrast of finding out about the kids and Mom so close together really brought home the line from the Lion King about the circle of life. New people are always being added to a family through birth, adoption and marriage while others are leaving. The family itself is strengthened by all of them pulling together. Itís a living organism, constantly changing and adapting. Mom was a center piece of this family.
While we mourn her loss deeply, we thank all of you for also helping us to celebrate a life well lived, and a wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, cousin, and friend who was well loved by the circle of the entire extended family of all of the people gathered here today.
Maynard graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1951 and went to work for Northwestern Bell as a lineman. He then attended Radio TV tech school in Chicago before joining Boeing Aircraft in 1952 where he worked on repairing bombing and navigation systems.
Maynard joined the Air Force in 1955 and was stationed in Denver, Colorado where he taught electronics. He met his wife Betty in the youth group of a Presbyterian Church where they married in 1957. Maynard was discharged in 1959, and they moved to Boone, Iowa so that Maynard could attend Iowa State University.
Maynard graduated in 1965 with a degree in Operational Engineering and went to work for IBM as a Systems Engineer, traveling all over the state of Iowa tailoring software to meet his clients' needs until he retired in 1988. Maynard and Betty raised 3 kids in West Des Moines where they were active members of Covenant Presbyterian Church. Maynard lent his powerful bass voice to the church choir for several decades. They moved to Johnston after retirement. They continued to live there for several years, spending winters in Prescott, AZ where they were very active in a local hiking group. After 49 years of marriage, Betty passed away in 2006, and Maynard moved to retirement communities in Ankeny and then Iowa Falls where he spent the last 10 years.
Maynard was an avid model railroader with a lifelong fascination for steam engines. He created an index for the Narrow Gauge Short Line Gazette to facilitate sharing his love of all things train related with other model railroaders. He was also a skilled woodworker, building beautiful walnut desks, tables, dressers and other furniture, and he shared his expertise with others as president for the Woodworkers Association of Des Moines. Maynard loved camping in national parks, taking the family on long trips across nearly every state in the US as well as Canada and Mexico.
Maynard is survived by his 3 children: Kathy (Philip) Broer of Iowa Falls, Iowa,
Karen Van Roekel of Alexandria, Virginia, and Kirk (Young) Van Roekel of Elgin,
Texas; 5 grandchildren: Sarah (Ryder) Broer, Henry Broer, Sarah Clark, Ace Van Roekel,
and David Van Roekel, his brother Art Van Roekel, and sister Marcia Van Roekel,
several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents and wife Betty whom he mourned until his death.