Laurel Dekker ’72 Kempkers

After a four year battle with ALS, Laurel Beth VanHaitsma Kempkers, aged 71, of Hamilton, formerly of Scottville, entered into the presence of her Lord and Savior on Friday, April 1, 2022. Laurel was born on Aug. 28, 1950 in Chicago, the daughter of Eugene and Adriana (Cook) Dekker and graduated from Homewood-Flossmoor High School with the class of 1968. Laurel continued her education at Hope College where she earned her bachelor’s degree in education in 1972. On June 12, 1971, she married Ricky VanHaitsma in Homewood and they celebrated 42 years together before Rick preceded her in death on July 23, 2013.

Laurel supported Rick as he served in his first pastorate at Beechwood Reformed Church in Holland. Here they celebrated the birth of their sons Bryan and Jared. The family moved to Mason County in 1987 when Rick became the pastor of Mason County Reformed Church in Scottville. Along with her love of raising their sons, Laurel served as a teacher’s aide at Scottville Elementary School for several years before joining the teaching staff of the newly formed Covenant Christian School, where she taught for more than 10 years. Along with teaching and supporting Rick in his ministry, Laurel served as a tutor/mentor for Kid’s Hope USA and was very active with the Hand2Hand ministry. She was also a member of the church vocal choir and handbell choir, and loved to spend time reading, walking and always looking for ways to grow her faith and serve others.

Early in her marriage, Laurel worked at Prince Corp. in Holland. One of her co-workers at that time was Gordon Kempkers. After the death of both of their spouses they reconnected through mutual friends and their friendship grew stronger leading to their marriage on Oct. 2, 2015.

They celebrated six blessed years together and are faithful members of Overisel Reformed Church in Holland.

Laurel will be greatly missed by her husband Gordon Kempkers; her sons Bryan ’99 and Erika VanHaitsma of Ludington and Jared ’02 & Lori Schiling ’01 VanHaitsma of Norwich, Connecticut; Gord’s children Cobrun and Sarah Kempkers and Amber and Mitch Lohman all of Hamilton; their grandchildren Eben, Aliza, Rina, Nora, Micah, Zane, Aliyah, Declan, Natanyah and Asher VanHaitsma, Nathan, Brenden and Jesse Kempkers, and Azlan and McKoy Lohman; her sister Lynn and Edward Scheutzow of Homewood, Illinois; her brothers-in-law Dennis and Becky Kempkers of Hamilton, Larry and Sally VanHaitsma of Byron Center and Dennis VanHaitsma of Holland; along with several nieces, nephews, cousins and numerous great friends.

Along with her husband Rick, Laurel was preceded in death by her parents Eugene and Adriana, and her grandson Shiloh.

Return to Current In Memoriam