Renita VanderMeulen ’75 Howat

On June 11, 1953, Renita Annette was born to William and Jeanette VanderMeulen. She was the oldest of 10 children, and spent her childhood years in Whitby, Ontario. Theirs was a God-fearing, church-going family, which would have a significant impact on the rest of Renita’s life. She accepted Jesus as her Savior when she was a child.

After completing high school, Renita attended Hope College, in Michigan, where she earned a bachelor’s degree, majoring in English. She taught school for 2 years, before marrying R. Fred Howat. The military brought them to Tacoma, Washington, in 1984, where Renita would spend the rest of her life.

Renita has touched countless lives as she taught elementary level school for 22 years, had a Sunday school class, led a women’s Bible study, reached out to neighbors, kept in touch with many friends, entertained in her home, and brought meals to families in need, always pointing others to Christ. She especially had a heart for children, and was very involved in her children’s and grandchildren’s lives. Some of Renita’s interests include: reading, writing poetry, outdoor walks and nature trails, and studying the Word of God. She also spent many hours in prayer for those she ministered to.
After battling cancer for over seven years, God called Renita Home on November 22, 2023, at the age of 70. She is preceded in death by her parents and one sister. She is survived by two sisters and six brothers, as well as by her children, Yanica Sacksteder (Steve), Naomi Drew (Warren), David (Emily), Steven (Hayley), and 9 grandchildren. Renita often said that she considered Psalm 23:6 to be her life verse: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

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