Ranja Greta Friedman passed away on April 20 in Kalamazoo. Ranja was born on January 1, 1934 in Kortrijk, Belgium, the daughter of Marie and André Dochy, and spent her early childhood in Ostend, Belgium. Refugees during the Second World War, Ranja and her sister and mother were taken in by two farm families in southwestern France. They returned to Belgium after the war and settled near Antwerp, where her father practiced medicine. After graduating from high school, Ranja studied at the University of Leuven and the State University of Ghent, where she received both undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees in microbiology, a rare achievement for a Belgian woman at that time. It was at the University of Ghent that she met her husband of 57 years, Stephen. They were married in Ghent and then moved to Cold Spring Harbor, New York before settling in Kalamazoo in 1966.
Ranja devoted the early part of her married life to bringing up three boys. Later she worked as a scientific translator with the Upjohn Company. She was also an accomplished amateur artist; many of her paintings - usually affectionate depictions of strangers seen around Kalamazoo or during vacations with Stephen in Europe - were accepted in juried shows. She enjoyed gardening, music and reading. She was long active in the Alliance Française, the Foreign Exchange Club and Meals on Wheels.
Through it all, Ranja radiated a joy of living. Nothing gave her more pleasure than playing with her children and grandchildren - or just watching them have fun. She was always ready with a smile and word of encouragement, always up at 7 AM to make hot cereal before school. She enjoyed her translation work, and colleagues became lifelong friends. Over the years she made the family home into a welcoming haven full of artwork and color. Friends will remember her wild costumes and the laughter she brought to parties.
She is survived by her husband, Stephen, sons Michael Friedman, Glenn Friedman and Mark Friedman, daughters-in-law Jeanne Friedman and Beatrix Erdei, grandchildren Benjamin Friedman, Rosella Friedman and Lili Friedman, nephews Carlo Van Grootel and Eric Van Grootel, and many cousins.
Ranja's family will receive guests from 1 to 3 PM on Sunday, April 25, 2021 at Langeland Family Funeral Homes Burial & Cremation Services, 3926 S 9th St, Kalamazoo, MI 49009. COVID restrictions in place, masks and social distancing required. Donations may be made in memory of Ranja to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan or to the Heritage Legacy Fund. To view Ranja's personalized web page, please visit https://www.langelands.com