Gail Van Kesteren
Service: Held at a later date
Cemetery: Alamo Twp. Cemetery
Memorials: Disability Network of Southwest Michigan, located at 517 E. Crosstown Parkway, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49001, or online via http://www.dnswm.org/
Gail VanKesteren, age 66, of Kentwood, formerly of Kalamazoo, went to be with her Lord and Savior on Sunday, the 19th of April, 2020.
Gail was born to Adrian and Lena (Tanis) VanKesteren in 1953 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The youngest of four daughters, Gail was born prematurely and with cerebral palsy. With prayer, Ad and Lena picked up that challenge and cheered Gail on physically, mentally and spiritually. She attended elementary school at the Upjohn School in Kalamazoo. She then went on to attend high school and graduated from the Crippled Children’s School in Jamestown, North Dakota, in 1974. (Now The Anne Carlsen Center for Children). Doing well there, Gail continued her education at the Junior College in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota, from 1974 to 1976. She went on from there, enrolling in and eventually graduating from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks in 1982.
Because of her experience in working with other disabled young people in these schools, it’s no wonder that once back in Kalamazoo, Michigan, she became a volunteer at the Center for Independent Living. (Now the Disability Network of Southwest Michigan). Living on her own in her own apartment, Gail was an ideal example to the disabled of how to be independent. Later, while still involved with helping out at the Center, she also became an advocate for the disabled, making several trips to the State Capitol to make sure that those with disabilities were well represented, especially when different bills were being passed. Her experience in the state of North Dakota gave her an edge as to what a state should do for their disabled population. At one time, Gail was even interviewed on the local television station of WKZO, to give her advice on how to best make the new mall in Kalamazoo truly handicap-accessible.
A woman of intelligence… and always proactive, Gail was also a woman who loved God and her Savior, Jesus Christ. She was a long-time member of Bethel Baptist Church in Kalamazoo. She witnessed to others with disabilities, as well as health care workers, and reveled in a good discussion about biblical matters and/or a good Bible study.
Gail was preceded in death by her parents. After their passing, Gail moved to Kentwood, Michigan, where she shared an apartment with her best friend, Melissa.
Gail will be lovingly remembered by her sisters, Loretta (Ed) Moore, Ellen (Harold) Grevenstuk, all of Kalamazoo, and Norene (Roger) Russ of Caledonia/Ghana, West Africa; her nephews, Douglas (Ruth) Grevenstuk, Glenn (Wanda) Grevenstuk, Jonathan Moore, Stephen (Nadean) Moore, Ben (Meagen) Russ; and friend and caregiver, Melissa McDannold, special friend and cousin, Judy Randall, and several more cousins from the VanKesteren and Tanis families. She also kept up with a number of friends from North Dakota as well as Michigan, both disabled and able bodied, who will miss her greatly.
A private family committal service will be held at the Alamo Township Cemetery later in the summer. Contributions in Gail's memory may be made to the Disability Network of Southwest Michigan, located at 517 E. Crosstown Parkway, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49001, or online via dnswm.org.
STROO FUNERAL HOME
1095 68TH ST SE
GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49508