Cover photo for Louise J. (VandenBerg)  Smith's Obituary
Louise J. (VandenBerg)  Smith Profile Photo
1932 Louise 2023

Louise J. (VandenBerg) Smith

June 5, 1932 — March 10, 2023

Kalamazoo

Louise Tarnow (VandenBerg, Smith) was the third of four children born to Carl and Maxine Tarnow, on June 5, 1932. She was a stubborn German who loved her family, her work, her community, and chocolate and she passed down these traits to her children and grandchildren (though she swore she never gave anyone any chocolate…) She was a loving wife, mother, sister, and daughter of God.

Louise grew up in a Dairy Family and worked everything from tending the cows to helping bottle milk and later helping with the family restaurant and ice cream parlor. She credited the milk and moving crates to her foundation of strength, muscles she would proudly and happily show off to anyone who asked if she needed help. She graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School and went on to Bronson School of Nursing where she earned her R.N. degree. Later she would go back to Western Michigan University to earn her Bachelor of Science degree in Community Medicine and later received her Parish Nurse Specialist from Marquette University in Wisconsin.

Louise married her beloved, Richard (Dick) VandenBerg, in 1952 and worked as an R.N. at Bronson Hospital full time until her 1st son Michael was born; then, worked weekends while giving birth to and raising two more children, Marcia and James. The family moved to Grand Rapids for her husband’s job at Consumers Power, she worked at Sunshine (now Kent Community) Hospital in Grand Rapids. Tragically, Dick passed in Grand Rapids during the Consumers Power strike of 1969. She moved back to Kalamazoo to be with family and begin her life as a single mom of three in the nineteen seventies- a time when women had a tough time opening credit cards. Yet, she secured their home and began working two jobs at Rambling Road Pediatrics and Kalamazoo Intermediate School District to take care of her children.

In 1978, she married her neighbor Ed Smith who was her companion for the next 44 years. They would travel together, enjoy one another’s families, and volunteer together at their church and in the community.

Somehow finding time between working and raising her family, Louise loved serving others and found her greatest achievements in helping others help themselves, whether it was as a Red Cross Disaster Nursing Coordinator or checking in donors to blood clinics; sitting with fellow parishioners from Bethany as they went into surgery or taking their blood pressure after worship; teaching high school girls in Loy Norrix, Parchment, and Comstock, how to lift patients or listening to them as they struggled with their personal relationships. Whether the task was large or small, she always brought to it everything she had with her whole heart.

For Louise, it was never about how much money you made, but how many lives you touched for God. Louise loved to volunteer. She volunteered with the American Red Cross in Kalamazoo for 66 years, with the Multiple Sclerosis Society for 8 years, Shepherd’s Center food pantry, Restore Ministry that assisted those released from Jail or Prison get re-acclimated into the community, as an Elder at Bethany Reformed Church that she so loved for over 70 years, Boys and Girls Scouts for decades, PTA boards, and as Bethany’s Parish nurse for decades, delivering soup, pies, meals and a loving laughter to everyone she served.

When she was with her extended family, she found there too, her greatest satisfaction came in serving alongside her sisters. It was a competition between the Tarnow sisters who had worked the longest between the meals, cleaning up, tending to the Tarnow family cottage, and making sure everyone got enough to eat. Many times, she has worked twenty-five out of the twenty-four hours a day, and she would tell you that was the absolute truth. She learned her lifelong work ethic alongside her parents, brother, and two sisters and they passed it on to the succeeding generations, demonstrating love through service.

Her tremendous faith was passed down, lived out, and given away, not just in words but in every action to which she committed herself. She wanted nothing more for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren than that they too, have a deep and abiding faith in her savior, that would help them over the rough times, appreciate the good in everyone, and lead them into a lifetime of service to others, regardless of where life took them. Her love for Jesus was a reassurance in dark times and a joy at all times. Even when she was critically burned as a child, she found strength in her Lord and would recount how Jesus would send attending angels to her to keep her company in the fearful nights after her sister Irene would leave her for the day. She found God’s consolation after her husband’s death in the faces of many. She moved in the Spirit’s power to serve others with great joy. She truly found that all things work together for good for those who love God. Even when life took her memory, her health, her possessions, she never lost her faith, her laughter, or God’s word that she could hear, recite, and sing right up to the end, that “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so”. Louise will be in our heart even as she gave her heart to all in a deep and abiding faith. https://www.langelands.com

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Louise J. (VandenBerg) Smith, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Langeland Family Funeral Home Burial & Cremation Services

3926 South 9th Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Langeland Family Funeral Home Burial & Cremation Services

3926 South 9th Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Guestbook

Photo Gallery

Visits: 31

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree