Arloa (Arkie) Mae VerBerkmoes, of Grand Rapids, MI, passed away peacefully on December 14, 2020, nine days before her 92nd birthday. She was born and raised in Zeeland, Michigan, growing up during the Depression Era which highly influenced her work ethic and how she lived her life. Arkie met her future husband, Edwin George VerBerkmoes, when a transit strike forced her to hitch-hike to her job at the hospital in Lansing and he offered her a ride. They had been married for an amazing 59 years at the time of his passing in 2008.
Arkie has always had a passionate love of learning and took pleasure in sharing her thirst for knowledge throughout all aspects of her life. She graduated as salutatorian of her class from Zeeland High School. After high school, Arkie studied at Michigan State University, graduating in 1951, earning dual majors of a BSN in Nursing and a BS in Home Economics. As a registered nurse, she worked for Blodgett and then Osteopathic Hospital as the head of obstetrics nursing. When her family began to grow, she left nursing for a full-time career as a loving and devoted mom to her three girls and one son. In the early 70’s, Arkie returned to MSU and obtained her Master’s in Education. She began her teaching career in Lowell Public Schools as a home economics instructor. Afterwards, she joined the Community Adult Education Program of Grand Rapids Public Schools, initially as a home economics teacher and then as a nurse aide instructor. Arkie also taught CPR for over 15 years through the American Red Cross.
Arkie was not only dedicated to her careers as nurse, wife, mother, and teacher, but also was an avid volunteer. Giving back to her community gave her great joy and she was always willing to lend a helping hand. One of the best examples of this is her role as a Girl Scout leader for 18 years where she inspired multitudes of young girls, teaching them the skills needed to “be prepared” and to “do a good turn daily”.
The most important aspect of Arkie’s remarkable life was her relationship with God. The foundation of Arkie’s life was built upon her unwavering faith and her love of God was evident to all who knew her. She was a founding and active member of the Forest Hills Presbyterian Church in Cascade, Michigan. Arkie treasured the friendships she made within her church community where she participated in bible study, choir and many other activities.
Arkie’s mantra was “I’d rather wear out than rust out”. Her goal was to reach 100 years young. Her zest for life was contagious and her smile infectious. She cherished her sister Lorraine, neighbors, friends, ZTA sorority sisters, and her family. She will be dearly missed. Her life was full and well-lived.
Arkie is survived by her three daughters, Grace (Tripp) Carpenter, Alice (Karl) Snyder, Gayle (Ghazwan) Shimoun; and son, Robert VerBerkmoes; six grandchildren: Laura and Emily Watson, Brian (Desirae) Snyder, Jared, Lianna and Evan Shimoun; four great-grandchildren: Timber, Liberty, Kaiden and Lincoln; and many nieces and nephews. She was sister to Lorraine Demorest (Bob) Wood, Norman (Gretchen) Riemersma, and Andinette (Jim) Crossley; as well as sister-in-law to Charlotte Soule.
Arkie is predeceased by her husband, Edwin VerBerkmoes; parents, Andrew and Sarah (Kossen) Riemersma; infant son, Karl; brother-in-laws, Alan Demorest, Bob Wood, Cornelius VerBerkmoes, Harold VerBerkmoes, Donald VerBerkmoes, Henry VerBerkmoes, Robert Shore, Roger Swanson, Robert Soule, Arthur Charron; sister-in-laws, Hermina VerBerkmoes, Betty VerBerkmoes, Mary Lou VerBerkmoes, Rofena VerBerkmoes, Anna Yalch, Evelyn Shore and Vicki VerBerkmoes.
The family would like to thank Arkie’s sister, Lorraine; The Village of Heather Hills; Spectrum Health Hospice; and Forest Hills Presbyterian Church for their care and support of Arkie during her prolonged illness. Due to COVID, a celebration of life will be held at a future date to be determined. Family and friends are invited to share memories of Arkie on her Tribute Wall here. Memorial donations may be made in Arkie’s name to Spectrum Health Hospice at Spectrum Health Foundation, 25 Michigan St. NE, Suite 4100, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 or to Disabled American Veterans – Charitable Service Trust, PO Box 14301, Cincinnati, OH, 45250.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Arloa Mae (Riemersma) VerBerkmoes, please visit our floral store.
Spectrum Health Hospice
100 Michigan St. NE, Grand Rapids MI 49503
Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
4809 Eastern Ave SE, Grand Rapids MI 49508