In memory of Helen Vander Ploeg
May 20, 1931 – April 19, 2022
Helen was born in Minnertsga, Friesland, The Netherlands on Wednesday May 20th, 1931, the firstborn of Johannes & Jeltje Muller (nee Waardenburg). Mom was big sister to five siblings – Cor, Rens, Aukje, Bea, and Petra. After finishing school at grade 8, she worked in Holland in various domestic support jobs in the homes of a doctor, a farmer, and a minister. In the Lord’s time, Mom met Ray Vander Ploeg at a church youth rally in 1947. After that they were able to date for about an hour every three weeks. But their relationship grew into courtship and then they became engaged on September 30, 1951. Before the wedding took place they separately immigrated to Canada. Dad arrived in Canada in April of 1952, with Mom coming in August of 1953 on the ship, the S.S. Groote Beer.
Mom first lived with Mr. & Mrs. Lesley for whom she worked as maid and nanny to the Lesley children. It was there that she learned English quite quickly. Ray & Helen were married in the Lord on June 23, 1954, in the First Christian Reformed Church of Owen Sound. They settled in Holland Marsh where Dad taught in the Christian School. Then the Lord blessed them with children. Joyce born when they lived in Holland Marsh; Stewart, Anita, Jeff, Jane, and Colin were born in Sarnia; and Gary born in Woodstock. Mom and Dad made their first trip back to Holland in 1977 and were able to return three more times after that.
Home was Mom’s full-time employment, built on set schedules and routines to manage a busy place. These were years when the home garden was large and many fruits and vegetables were prepared for use throughout the winter months. She carried out her tasks with dedication and consistency. Mom developed a unique and delicious type of ketchup that none of her children have been able to reproduce. When asking her for a recipe in later years, she never had one written down. Mom volunteered in church: singing in the choir, visiting shut-ins, helping in the nursery, and preparing food. Mom got her first driver’s license in her early 60’s and drove for about 10 years. As a senior with Dad in retirement, they travelled in Canada among the provinces visiting their children and grandchildren.
When health challenges become more prominent, Mom spent her time close to home. She was an avid reader who probably read the entire church library. Eventually Mom had to move into long term care which was a difficult transition. Yet she endured the changes and challenges as the path she had to be on. Mom’s faith in Jesus was straightforward with honest questions that all believers face at times.
She endured falls with broken bones and illnesses over the years, always recovering a bit less each time. On the morning between Good Friday and Easter 2022, Mom returned to hospital, very ill. She seemed to be recovering once again and was preparing to return to her care home when she fell into a peaceful sleep at Woodstock General Hospital on Tuesday April 19th, the Lord having called her to her eternal home through the grace and sacrifice of Jesus her Lord and Saviour.
On April 19, 2022, Helen Vander Ploeg went peacefully to her Lord and Saviour at the Woodstock Hospital at the age of 90 after a brief illness. Helen is survived by her loving husband Ray of over 67 years; her children, Joyce Cunningham (Robert “Bob” Alderson) of Hamilton ON, Anita Klaver of St. Thomas ON, Jeff of Abbotsford BC, Jane (Gerard) Kuntz of Welland ON, Colin (Anita) of Fonthill ON, Gary (Angel) of Port Orange, FL. and 14 grandchildren and 8 (soon to be 9) great-grandchildren. Helen was pre-deceased by their oldest son Stewart in 1988. A private family interment to take place and will be followed by a public memorial service scheduled for Tuesday, April 26 at 1:30pm at Maranatha Christian Reformed Church 735 Frontenac Cres., Woodstock. In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Woodstock Christian School or World Renew would be greatly appreciated and be made online at www.brockandvisser.com
Woodstock Christian School
800 Juliana Drive P.O. Box 1597, Woodstock ON Woodstock, Ontario N
World Renew Through Maranatha Christian Reformed Church
735 Frontenac Cres., Woodstock ON N4V 0B1