Pella Chronicle

April 23, 2013

Geraldine Van Kalkeren

The Chronicle

Pella — Geraldine Kamerick was born on July 31, 1924. Her parents, Gerrit and Tena (De Goey) Kamerick, were farmers, who lived four miles south of Pella, Iowa. Here in the Howell Station area, along the Des Moines River, “Geri” experienced farm fun and floods. Geri, the seventh of nine children, and all of her siblings attended the Amsterdam School, where she graduated from the 8th grade.

On May 28, 1942, she was united in marriage with Dick Van Kalkeren at the First Christian Reformed Church in Pella, where she had earlier made profession of her faith.  

Following their marriage, they moved to a house in Lynnville, Iowa. While living there, their first child, a son, Dick Jr. was stillborn. Since World War II was in progress, Dick joined the 5th Division of the Marines, and they moved to Oceanside, California. When Dick was sent overseas in 1945, Geri returned to Pella, where she began working at Liter’s Dry Cleaners as a presser. Little did she know that she was beginning a life-time career of operating and owning a dry cleaning business. Dick was discharged in 1946 and joined Geri in Pella at Liter’s Cleaners.  Daughters, Linda and Rhonda, were born in 1947 and 1951 in Pella.  

In 1955, Dick, Geri, and family moved to Urbandale, Iowa, where they went to work for Corwin Cleaners.  Then in 1958, they went on to DeKalb, Illinois to work at Green Acre Cleaners; then finally back to Pella in 1959, when they purchased Liter’s Cleaners, which they owned and operated in partnership as Richard’s Cleaners for the next 23 years.  

During this time in Pella, their third daughter, Jana, was born in 1964.  Due to Dick’s ill health, the cleaning business was sold in 1981.   Geri then began working at the Hilltop Manor and cleaning houses with her sister and dearest friend, Pauline Rietveld. She also sewed window treatments and cut lace for Heritage Lace in Pella.

Geri was a woman of many talents. She loved to sew and was an excellent seamstress. She sewed clothing, formals and bridesmaids dresses for each of her three daughters and made Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls for each of her six granddaughters. With her daughter, Rhonda, she also sewed quilts.  Geri had a great collection of cruets and depression glass. Together she and Dick enjoyed square dancing, camping and playing cards.

At their home at 313 Farmer Street in Pella, Geri tended her flowers.  It was here she and Dick were living, when he passed away on November 3, 1997, following a long illness. With a love for travelling, her last trip was to Washington, D.C. in 2008 with her daughters. It was at this time that the early signs of dementia were noticed.

She became a resident at Jefferson Place in October, 2009 and was lovingly cared for there the remainder of her lifetime, where she passed away late Sunday evening, April 7, 2013, at the age of 88 years. Those left to cherish her memory are her three daughters and their husbands: Linda and Ken Nollen of Pella, Rhonda Turnquist and Steve Knight of Cottage Grove, Oregon, Jana and Rick Kaatz of Milford, Michigan; and five wonderful granddaughters:  Nikki and her husband, Craig Morris, Sarah Turnquist, Heidi Turnquist, Ashley Kaatz and Danielle Kaatz; and two special great-grandsons: Noah Morris, age 6 years and Adam Morris, age 3 years. Of her original family, she leaves her sisters-in-law, Susie (Floyd) Kamerick of Des Moines, Iowa and Mary (Gil) Kamerick of Birmingham, Alabama and the following sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law: Kay (Lester) Van Kalkeren of Sterling, Colorado, Nellie (VanKalkeren) and Gene Wilson of Sun City, Arizona and  Evelyn (Van Kalkeren) and Harold Booy of Mountain Home, Arkansas. Geri was preceded in death  by her husband, Dick Van Kalkeren; a stillborn son, Dick, Jr; a granddaughter, Holly Nollen, on August 19, 2008; her parents, Gerrit and Tena Kamerick; her parents-in-law: John D. and Elizabeth (Bruxvoort) Van Kalkeren; and the following siblings: Josie and Hubert Steenhoek, Reuben and Margaret Kamerick, James and Sadie Kamerick, Floyd Kamerick, Gilbert Kamerick, Wilma and Ivan Mathes, Cora Mae and Kenneth Warner, Pauline and Fred Rietveld.

While living in Des Moines, Geri and Dick were members of the Meredith Drive Reformed Church. After returning to Pella, they became charter members of the Trinity Reformed Church and were involved in many areas of the church life. Much singing was done as a family on the front porch of their farm home where Geri grew up. Geri and her sister, Pauline Rietveld, accompanied by their brother, Floyd Kamerick, playing the guitar, made a great singing trio. Eventually, they were invited to sing in many churches, at special events and on the radio. Her family and friends have many wonderful memories of their singing to the glory of God.

Funeral services were held on Friday, April 12, 2013 at the Trinity Reformed Church in Pella.  Arrangements were handled by Van Dyk – Duven Funeral Home.

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