Anita Van Voorst
After a graceful battle of 5 years with Alzeheimers and 1½ years with cancer, Anita Juliet (Just) Van Voorst passed away in her home early Tuesday morning (April 30, 2019) at the age of 83. Anita’s life was a life well-lived from the very beginning. She was born Jan. 25, 1936, into a large German Lutheran family with nine siblings on a farm in Clarkfield, Minn.
Carl Just and Clara (nee Hartfiel) had 10 children, four boys and six girls, the youngest, Janice, passed at age 6 months. The family all worked on the farm to grow all their own food, from planting to harvesting crops and a garden, as well as milking cows and rearing livestock and fowl in order to feed the family. Her mother was a proficient seamstress, which most of the girls learned in turn. She made their clothes, some of which were sent overseas to Germany during the war for those in need. She made the rugs and the drapes. The girls also learned to bake homemade bread and cinnamon rolls, a tradition which still carries through the grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The family was very close, loving, hardworking and religious, which again is passed down through the generations and shared at continuing family reunions.
From Clarkfield, Anita received her medical laboratory technician degree in Minneapolis. Soon after, she moved to Denver and worked for a doctor as an assistant and receptionist. Hugh and Anita met in Denver through mutual friends. One of her first dates was a flight home to Minnesota with Hugh in a single-engine airplane to see her family and the Illini football game. They were married in Wilmar, Minn., on Feb. 27, 1960.
They moved back to Hugh’s stomping ground, Union Hill. Anita started working for Dr. Lang in Kankakee on Court Street and worked at Gaines Research Kennels in St. Anne. Her full-time job was tending to the business and the books of the bowling alley (17-47 Bowl) in Dwight, as well as the apartments they had built, raising three children, Grant, Beth and Jill, and taking care of the home. She was socially active, serving the community with her infectious smile in Junior Women’s League, Reddick School PTA and school events and Bridge Club. As an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, she served on various church circles to help serve the community and taught Vacation Bible School many years.
As the kids were growing, she was always supportive, present and active in their school functions by volunteering, making costumes and dresses and cheering them on with their friends. She fed and treated all their friends as her own. Many cheeseburgers and grilled cheeses with tomato soup were made with love on her stove. After the kids graduated, Anita became more involved in volunteering with the Arthritis Foundation, Hospice Fundraising and serving on the board of Prairieview Lutheran Home in Danforth for 10 years. She continued to serve church committees, including the Banner Committee, making beautiful banners still displayed, as well as altar guild to decorating and preparing for service and communion. She made the pattern and wedding dress for Beth. Her favorite pastime involved doting on, caring for and loving her two grandchildren, Clara Van Voorst Fisher (11) and Emma Van Voorst (9), continuing the traditions of teaching them to sew and bake and making pretty dresses for them to enjoy.
Anita’s life included the perk of travel, being married to an airline pilot. This was the time when china was used to serve meals in the air, and it was easy to jump on a plane and go anywhere. This benefit was shared with the family to make lifelong memories of wonderful vacations all around the world. Fortunately, there are many memories, photos and friends as testament to this remarkable woman and the life she lived so beautifully.
Surviving Anita are her husband, Hugh, of Union Hill; son Grant, of Union Hill, and granddaughter Emma; daughter Beth and granddaughter Clara, of Reddick, and daughter Jill and son-in-law Gregg Olheiser, of Urbana; sister and brother-in-law, Barbara and William “Bill” Bumpous, of Union Hill; and loving caregiver, Kari Barten; as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Preceding Anita in death were her parents, Carl and Clara Just; in-laws Gilbert and Eileen Van Voorst; all siblings: Urban and Millie Just, of Wilmar, Minn., Gerald and Della Just, of Clarkfield, Minn., Carl and Glenda Just, of Sunburg, Minn., Delbert Just, of Eugene, Ore., Elaine and Harvey Nelson, of Wilmar, Evelyn and Bob Jurgenson, of Eugene, Angeline and Jack Stice, of Saint Cloud, Minn., and Rebecca and William “Bill” Luther, of San Angelo, Texas. She also was preceded by one niece, Judy Just; and three nephews, Randy and Kenny Just and Jeff Stice.
The family wishes to thank you for taking the time to share in the celebration of her life in thoughts, words or in person. Please join them for the visitation from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, at Clancy-Gernon Funeral Home in Bourbonnais, and 10 a.m. Wednesday until the 11 a.m. funeral service at Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher. Burial will be in Coleman Cemetery Buckingham. Memorials may be made to Prairieview Lutheran Home in Danforth and Hospice of Kankakee Valley.
Please sign her guestbook at clancygernon.com.