Mary Wiersema ’61 Vermeulen

Mary Wiersema ’61 Vermeulen of Waynesboro, Virginia, died on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. She was 77.

Mary was born a farmer’s daughter on the 15th of November, 1939, in Morrison, Illinois, and lived on the family farm in Whiteside County with her parents Peter and Alice (Aggen) Wiersema and her older brother Robert. She attended a one-room schoolhouse and later graduated from Polo High School in 1957. She was the first of her family to go to college to pursue a degree in Math and Chemistry.

After graduating from Hope College, she got married and settled in Williamsburg, Virginia, to raise two children and continue her education at the College of William and Mary in career counseling. In 1979, after a divorce, she moved with her children to Galena, Illinois, where she became a career counselor at Jo Daviess County Vocational Center while commuting to Northern Illinois University, to complete a Doctorate of Education degree. She then became a beloved instructor and career counselor at Black Hawk College – East Campus.

Mary went into semi-retirement, still providing on-line instruction for Black Hawk students, and followed her daughter to Waynesboro, Virginia, as she always wanted to live in the Appalachian Mountains. In retirement, she cared for two of her grandchildren, became an avid birder, pursued genealogy of her Dutch and German heritage, authored a biography, wrote poetry and worked for many local environmental causes. In her final months, Mary and her cat, Bella, enjoyed living at Brightview at Baldwin Park in Staunton, Virginia. She ended her days socializing on the front porch, taking country drives with Clyde and suspiciously winning too many Euchre card games.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her brother, Robert, and his wife Betty, her niece, Linda Wiersema Schell, and great-nephew, Gabriel Bogott. Mary is survived by her son, Kevin W. Vermeulen and his wife Denise and their son, Lee, of Waterloo, Illinois; her daughter, Susan VermeulenLancaster and her husband Edwin, their daughter Caroline, and their son Jameson, of Waynesboro, Virginia; her nieces and nephews in northern Illinois, numerous friends in Virginia, Illinois and South Dakota and her cat Bella.

A memorial service will be held at Covenant Presbyterian Church at 2pm Monday August 7th 2017. The family will be greeting friends and family at the church following the memorial service. A second memorial service and burial of her ashes, will be held in Morrison, Illinois, at a later date. In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial donations be made to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and/or The Nature Conservatory.

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