Jacqueline VanHeest ’52 DeYoung

Jacqueline “Jackie” DeYoung passed away peacefully on April 8, 2022 while under hospice care in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Jackie was 90 years old at the time of her passing and had been preceded in death by her husband (Rev. Donald H. DeYoung) just nine days earlier. Jackie was born Jacqueline VanHeest on July 9, 1931 in Catskill, New York to Rev. John J. VanHeest and Lucille Bishop VanHeest. Her father was a pastor during the Great Depression. This often left the family with limited resources, but also provided Jackie with countless stories of God’s provision and care in times of need. The stories that seemed to mark her childhood most were centered around her days spent exploring the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River with her siblings. Jackie also discovered her love for music and the arts early in life. As a young girl she would sing in the church choir and in an ensemble with her sisters. Jackie graduated from Catskill High School (1948) before moving to Michigan to attend Hope College (Holland). She attended Hope for one year before transferring to Butterworth School of Nursing (Grand Rapids), where she graduated and earned her RN (1953). After passing her boards, Jackie moved to Cleveland, Ohio and began her career. Her time at Hope College only lasted a year, yet it was in that short time that she met a young man named Don DeYoung. The two stayed connected as they finished their respective educational journeys Jackie becoming a nurse and Don completing seminary and becoming ordained in the Reformed Church in America. Jackie and Don were married on June 2,1955 and set off to Harlem, New York to begin their life and ministry together. After arriving in Harlem Jackie began working at a local health clinic, while Don served for two years with the East Harlem Protestant Parish before accepting a call to Elmendorf Reformed Church. While Don may have been the one to officially “accept the call,” there was no question of their shared commitment and devotion to God and to the community at Elmendorf. Jackie continued working as a nurse, until they had their first child (Don) in 1956. For 21 years Jackie and Don faithfully served their community in Harlem. Ministry of all sorts presents challenges, but Jackie would often reflect on that season of life with joy, purpose, mission, and fulfillment. During this time in U.S. history, many churches were relocating because “their people” were no longer in the neighborhoods. Jackie would passionately and lovingly reflect on how the community in East Harlem was most definitely her people. She instilled in her children and grandchildren the importance of seeing the gospel as intimately connected with loving your neighbor and working for justice in everyday life. Jackie had numerous scriptures that she would recite in various situations, yet she made it known that her favorite was Micah 6:8. He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. In 1976 the DeYoung family moved to Kalamazoo after Don received a ministry call to Second Reformed Church. Jackie went on to complete her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, graduating from Nazareth College in 1983, and spent several years working in geriatric nursing. Jackie was a two-time breast cancer survivor, and was a quiet support and encouragement to those also battling cancer. Her passions in life were God, her family, nature, music (symphonic, classical, choral, and contemporary) and the arts in its many forms. Jackie most notably leaves a legacy of being one of the greatest encouragers of others in their gifts and passions. Until her final day, she was a light to those around her. Jackie is survived by her sons Don DeYoung ’78 (Jan) and Kevin DeYoung ’80 (Kim); daughters Bonnie DeYoung-Smith ’82 (John) and Shari DeYoung-Pruis (Mike); grandsons Joshua Pruis (Angie), Jeremy Pruis (Annie), AJ Pruis (Melissa), Jesse Smith, Zac Smith (Allison), David DeYoung, Cesar DeYoung, and Mateo DeYoung; great-grandchildren Rowen and Elodie Pruis; and siblings Gerald VanHeest ’49 (Eloise Hinkamp ’51), Lucille VanHeest ’55 Schroeder, Harriet Van Heest ’58  Bechtel (Ted ’57), Wilma Seaver (Lyn); and several nieces and nephews. Jackie is predeceased by her husband of 66 years, Donald H. DeYoung; parents John J. VanHeest and Lucille Bishop VanHeest; sister Rhea Arnold; and brother Neil VanHeest. F

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