Etta Joan (Kallemyn) Vermeer, 92, of Pella, Iowa, passed away Monday, May 27, 2013, at the Pella Regional Health Center following a sudden illness. Etta was born in Edgerton, Minnesota on May 5, 1921, and grew up in Grundy Center, Iowa. Since Grundy College had closed, her family moved to Pella, Iowa so Etta and her brothers could attend Central College.
Etta met her husband, Earl Nickolas Vermeer, at the First Christian Reformed Church in Pella, while he was on furlough with the United States Army/Air Force during World War II. They were married on August 7, 1945, and were blessed with sixty-six years of a wonderful marriage. Her faith, family, and education were paramount in her life. She was secretary and later librarian at Lincoln Elementary School for 26 years. “This is a library for children. Every bit of it is for them. It is so important to be able to read.”
Politics played a huge part in her life after retirement. She was delighted with her election as Delegate-at-Large to attend the Republican National Convention in 1998 at New Orleans. She hosted many Presidential hopefuls in their campaigns through Iowa as the Marion County Republican Chairperson. She was a member of the First Christian Reformed Church, served on the State Committee for Independent Colleges and Universities, was a member of the District 5 Judicial Nominating Committee for six years under Governor Terry Branstad, and was a life-long member of the American Legion Auxiliary.
Etta and Earl enjoyed traveling with their children: Barbara Sue and Debra Lou, twins and Beverly Ann. One of her favorite trips was through the Holy Land. Etta was a walking-talking Chamber of Commerce for Pella. On one of their trips back, they talked to the pilot about their charming Dutch hometown. As they approached Des Moines, Iowa, the pilot began conducting an aerial tour. He, to Etta and Earl’s delight, told passengers about the Dutch town of Pella. Etta was the constant optimist. Her favorite motto was “Have faith and persevere.”
Etta will be remembered lovingly by her family and friends and will always be a source of faith and inspiration. Her determined personality, youthful soul, and big heart will never be forgotten. She is survived by her children: Barbara S. Vermeer of Hernando, Florida, Debra L. Billingsley and her husband, James, of Fairfield, Iowa, Beverly A. Wagner and her husband, John, of Amana, Iowa; four grandchildren: Laura (Billingsley) Kochneff and her husband, Eric, Sarah Jo (Wagner) DeKock and her husband, Aaron, Kristin (Billingsley) Cooper and her husband, Steve, and Daniel Wagner; and one great-granddaughter, Brynlee DeKock. Etta leaves three sisters-in-law: Dorothy (Ed) Kallemyn and Katherine (Marvin) Kallemyn both of Des Moines, Iowa, Ruth (Willard) Vermeer of Pella; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, Earl N. Vermeer on September 6, 2011; her parents, John and Gertie (Masselink) Kallemyn; her four brothers: George Kallemyn and his wife, Lucille, Merle Kallemyn and his wife, Ruth, Ed Kallemyn, Marvin Kallemyn; her parents-in-law, Henry and Nettie (Bogaard) Vermeer; a sister-in-law, Pauline (Vermeer) and her husband, Nick Jelles and a brother-in-law, Willard Vermeer.
Funeral services were held on Friday, May 31 at First Christian Reformed Church in Pella.
Arrangements were handled by Van Dyk- Duven Funeral Home.