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Marilyn Mae (Timmer) Vanderlaan
February 21, 1929 ~ November 19, 2022 (age 93) 93 Years Old
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Marilyn Mae Vanderlaan, age 93, passed away on November 19, 2022. She was born February 21, 1929 in Muskegon, Michigan to Edna (Watson) and Albert Timmer. She grew up in the Lakeside (Muskegon) home of her grandparents, Alpha and Madge Watson, where she was surrounded by loving aunts, uncle, cousins and pet dogs. Sadly, her mother passed away when she was twelve.
Marilyn spent much of her childhood and teen years at the beach on Lake Michigan, where she developed a lifelong fondness for sunbathing. She attended Muskegon High School, where she was secretary of the student council and met the love of her life, Gordon Vanderlaan. She worked for the Muskegon Chronicle after high school, then spent two years in Texas working for the Houston Chronicle.
In 1952, Marilyn and Gordon wed and moved to Milwaukee, where he completed his dental degree at Marquette University while she worked for the Milwaukee Journal. This was followed by two years at Fort Bliss in El Paso where Gordon was stationed in the Army. They eventually settled in Fremont where Gordon began his dental practice and they raised three children.
Marilyn enjoyed church, volunteering, and served as president of the Hospital Service League. She was a long-time member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, and also enjoyed visiting the First Congregational Church later in life. She had a strong appreciation for nature, spending summer weekends at the family cabin where she enjoyed hikes, cross country skiing, wildlife, picking wild blueberries and soaking up the rays by the Little Manistee River.
Some of Marilyn’s other passions included travel, music, dancing and spending time with family and her many friends. She had a never-ending desire to learn. She loved reading, attending lectures, debating politics, and she embraced new technology. She was artistic, which shone through in her many creations including jewelry, afghans and china painting. In her mid-life years she was often referred to as “the butterfly lady” because of her frequent appearances on the Western Michigan art fair circuit with her butterfly art.
Marilyn was a deeply devoted and supportive mother and grandmother, resulting in a close-knit, loving family. When asked about her life she said “My proudest achievement was raising three wonderful human beings who love me and love each other”.
Marilyn is survived by her son, Mark (Billie) Vanderlaan of Croton, MI; daughter, Anne (Kevin) Williams of Seattle, WA; grandsons, John Vanderlaan of Clarksville, MI and Jesse Vanderlaan of Traverse City, MI. She was preceded in death by her husband, Gordon; daughter, Jill Wright and son-in-law, Lloyd Wright.
A visitation will be held at Kroeze-Wolffis Funeral Home in Fremont on Friday, December 9, 2022 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. For anyone wishing to make a memorial contribution in Marilyn’s honor, please consider Dogwood Center for the Performing Arts or Newaygo County Council for the Arts.