Jean was born Aug. 20, 1929, at Le Mars, the daughter of Jacob and Albertha (Dambrink) Berkenpas. She was raised in the Seney and Le Mars area and attended country school in Seney and the Le Mars High School.
On Jan. 2, 1948, she married Marion Van Roekel in Sioux City. They farmed mostly in northwest Iowa, moving to Alton in 1977. Marion died May 31, 1990.
In 2001, Mrs. Van Roekel moved to Orange City. She became a resident of the Heritage House on Sept. 29 of this year.
Jean was a member of the Alton Reformed Church, where she had belonged to the Mary Circle. She was also a member of the Floyd American Legion Post Auxiliary in Alton.
She devoted her life to caring for others, from her family to those of all ages, including the very young and the very old.
Jean was known as "Grandma Jean" for several years in Mrs. B.'s first grade classroom at the MOC-Floyd Valley Elementary School. For 40 years (1968-2008), she was employed at the Heritage House, where she served in various capacities, including nursing assistant and the activity director. She was also a volunteer at Hospice and assisted at Dinner Date.
Survivors include her daughter and her husband, Judy and Larry Neal, of Keller, Texas; two sons, Terry Van Roekel, and his wife, Nancy (Freriks), of Hinton; and Randy Van Roekel, of Orange City; five grandchildren and their spouses, Kevin and Katy Neal, of Fort Worth, Texas; Chedea Neal, of Keller; Tom and Liz Van Roekel, of Moville; Andy and April Van Roekel, of Moville; and James and Chelsey Van Roekel, of Merrill; six great-grandchildren, Karson, Kody, Dalton, James, Jaxsen, Gracie Jean, and Quinn; two expected great-grandchildren; three sisters, Dorothy, and her husband, Paul Hoppe; Edith Renken; and Frances Leonard, all of Le Mars; a brother-in-law, Merlin Singer, of Le Mars; and five sisters-in-law, Anita Berkenpas and Lillian Berkenpas, both of Le Mars; Marge Berkenpas, of Reno, Nev.; Gertie Hoekstra, of Maurice; and Nancy Kooima, of Rock Valley; and a dear friend, Virginia Templeton, of Alton.
In addition to her husband and parents, she was preceded in death by a infant son, Thomas (twin of Terry); a grandson, Richard Neal; six brothers and their wives, Leonard and Dolly Berkenpas, Art and Charlene Berkenpas, Bill Berkenpas, Henry Berkenpas, Raymond Berkenpas, and Norman Berkenpas; and two sisters, Lois Singer and Alice Jennings.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Alton Reformed Church, officiated by the Rev. Michael Hardeman and the Rev. Elizabeth Hardeman. Interment will follow at the Nassau Township Cemetery near Alton. Visitation will be after 4 p.m. today (Wednesday), with the family present from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Oolman Funeral Home in Orange City.
Memorials will be directed to the Activity Department at the Heritage House.
You may express your sympathy at www.oolman.com.