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JoAnne Brooks

Obituary for JoAnne Brooks

March 10, 1924 - September 21, 2019
Holland, Michigan | Age 95


JoAnne Vander Velde Brooks, loving mom, devoted Christian, community activist and Peacemaker, entered heaven on the International Day of Peace, Saturday, September 21, at age 95. Born in Detroit, Michigan on March 10, 1924 to Dr. Otto and Margaret (Den Herder) Vander Velde, she moved with her family to Holland two years later, where her father set up his medical practice.

JoAnne graduated from Holland High School and attended Northwestern University's School of Speech, which provided a foundation for a life of singing, acting and public speaking. She left college one semester short of graduation to marry her lifelong friend, Jim Brooks, who was then serving as a B-29 navigator during WWII. When the war ended, they returned home to Holland, MI where Jim entered the family soft drink bottling business and JoAnne began her lifelong service to the community.

As a lifetime member of Hope Reformed Church, JoAnne taught Sunday School, led a Prayer Group, participated in Women's Circles and served on the Consistory. Her strong faith in Jesus led her to deep compassion for others. She and her church friends were active in early migrant support programs. They also started the Holland Day Care Center for children of single parents. She attended a sacred dance performance in Colorado and brought the idea back to Holland. JoAnne and her friends recruited Maxine De Bruyn, then head of the Hope College Dance Department, to choreograph and teach them to perform for local worship services.

JoAnne was passionate about social justice and related political issues. In addition to serving as President of Holland Junior Welfare League, she was a founding member of the Holland Area League of Women Voters and Holland Peacemakers.

When Jim retired from Squirt & Company, he and JoAnne first retired in Cancun, Mexico where they fell in love with the local culture. In 1987 they moved to the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, FL, while continuing to enjoy summers at their home on Lake Michigan. JoAnne and Jim found great joy in boating wherever they lived. JoAnne started the Ocean Reef Children's Sunday School, which she taught well into her 80s. She also served as the yacht club's Chaplain of the Fleet.

In 2008, Jim and JoAnne moved to Freedom Village in Holland, where JoAnne walked a mile each day, and was active in a prayer circle, Bible study, singing and bridge groups. On Friday nights during the season, she could be found at the Macatawa Bay Yacht Club sipping Kendall Jackson Chardonnay at a table reserved for dear friends in their nineties.

Jo Anne is predeceased by her husband of 68 years, James F. Brooks, her son, Rev. Steven R. Brooks and his first wife, Kathie C. Brooks, in-laws, Don and Janet Brooks Winter and her longtime mentee, Jewel.

JoAnne's loving spirit lives on in her daughter, Susan (Rick) Wallace, of Foley, AL, her son, James W.F. (Donna) Brooks, of Holland, MI, Steve's wife, Linda Brooks of Colorado Springs, CO, and her brother Jack (Marilyn) Vander Velde of Ann Arbor, MI. She is also survived by seven grandchildren, Tiffany (Pablo) Bernal, Scott J. (Amanda) Brooks, Ross (Lindsey) Brooks, Brad (Laura) Wallace, Matt Wallace, Bree (Riley) Mikelson, and Rev. Ben (Katie) Brooks, 14 great grandchildren and an extended family of nieces, nephews and exchange students from The Netherlands, Russia and Chile.

The family expresses their deepest appreciation to the caregivers and staff of Freedom Village and Hospice of Holland who made this final journey so comfortable and meaningful.

JoAnne's cremains will be interred in the Hope Church Memorial Garden during a private family gathering. A visitation with her family will be held at Freedom Village, 145 Columbia Ave, Holland, MI 49423 on Wednesday, September 25 from 3:00-5:00pm.

A Celebration of JoAnne's Life will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday, October 12, 2019 at Hope Reformed Church, 77 West 11th St. Holland, MI. A time of visitation with the family will available that morning beginning at 10:00 am.

In lieu of flowers, charitable donations are encouraged to Hope Reformed Church, 77 West 11th ST, Holland, MI 49423 or the Foundation for Vision Research, 5030 Cascade Rd, SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 with a designation to Macular Diseases Research.

Suggested Memorial Donations

  • Foundation for Vision Research
    Macular Diseases Research
    5030 Cascade Rd. SE
    Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Arrangements By

Langeland-Sterenberg Funeral Home

315 E 16th St
Holland, MI 49423
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