Obituary of Lynne VanLeeuwen

With a warm smile and a welcoming heart, Lynne Mary VanLeeuwen lived a life rich in family and friends. Lynne welcomed every moment as a gift, relishing life’s joys and meeting its challenges with unwavering faith and confidence. Lynne enjoyed adventure, appreciated the beauty in life, and treasured nothing more than her family. Cherished by many, Lynn will long be remembered and so very missed.

The mobilization of war efforts in 1942 was quick and effective, with carmakers and other manufacturers changing to the production of weapons of war. Gas rationing, Scrap Days, and Victory Gardens became the norm. At the same time, The Declaration of the United Nations, the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, and The Voice of America ensured that every citizen had their eyes focused on a better future. Nowhere was there more hope for the future than in the hearts of Robert and Evelyn (Shearer) Brown as they welcomed their daughter, Lynne, into their family on December 6 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Growing up in a large family, Lynne was the second youngest child. Her older siblings were much older, and she came to know her younger brother, John, best. While her father was a handyman who worked on many rental properties, her mother worked for Michigan Tag Company. The family enjoyed summer vacations at a cottage in Idlewild, Michigan and Lynne attended Palmer Elementary School. A gifted singer and percussionist, she took music lessons and attended band camps at Michigan State University.

After graduating from Creston High School with the class of 1960, Lynne went away to college in Alva, Oklahoma. In 1963, she returned to Michigan to marry Douglas Carnevale who worked with her mother at Michigan Tag Company. The couple married in a ceremony at St. Judes Catholic Church.

In time, Lynne and Doug were blessed to welcome three children to their family. Though their marriage ended in divorce after 16 years, Lynne was always grateful it gave her the gift of motherhood. Christine, Maria, and Martin quickly were the centers of Lynne’s world. She was an awesome mom who totally devoted herself to ensuring her children were loved and supported.

As a musician in the Grand Rapids Symphony for over 20 years and a principal percussionist for part of that time, Lynne thoroughly enjoyed sharing her love of music with her children and took them to all her rehearsals and concerts. While cooking wasn’t her passion, she made great meatloaf, goulash, and chili, and her weenie wraps were her specialty!

While vacationing with her brother Bob in Uniontown, Kansas, Lynne had the good fortune of meeting Joe VanLeeuwen. Joe had two adult daughters from a previous marriage and owned and operated Van’s Grocery and Meat Locker in Uniontown. The pair began dating, fell in love, and married on February 24, 1981.

Lynne helped run the store until they retired in 1998. She then worked as a church secretary in Fort Scott, Kansas, for a time. They took many trips together; Hot Springs, Arkansas, was a favorite destination. They also enjoyed visiting casinos to gamble. She was a member of the Arts Council in Fort Scott for twenty years and was always up for a potluck dinner with friends.

A practicing Catholic her entire life, faith was always important to Lynne, and she was grateful to be a member of the fellowships at St. Jude in Grand Rapids and Mary Queen of Angels in Fort Scott. Without a doubt, Lynne’s greatest joy was her family. And her grandchildren were her heart’s delight! She adored her grandkids and nurtured a special relationship with each one of them. She taught them numbers and math, music and art appreciation, and loved to joke and play. Their biggest fan, Lynne attended all their events and supported their every endeavor. Whether sharing a meal, playing Yahtzee of Boggle, or cheering them on, Lynne proved a constant source of love and support.

Without a doubt, life feels less certain in the absence of Lynne’s steadfast companionship. May we find comfort in our many treasured memories and in the honor of carrying her beautiful legacy forward. In each moment we gather with loved ones, cheer on each other’s’ dreams, enjoy a trip, or share our passions, we celebrate the many ways Lynne gifted our lives. In this way, we keep her spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired each of us.

Lynne M. Vanleeuwen of Grand Rapids, MI, age 79, passed away with her loving family by her side November 20, 2022.

She was also preceded in death by her husband, William Joseph VanLeeuwen; siblings, Bob and Alice Brown, Arthur Brown, Ben and Joan Brown, Delores and Frank Hall, Ardis and Ken Jacobs, and John Brown.

Lynne is survived by her children, Christine Carnevale of Grand Rapids, Maria (Don Myles) Norman of Grand Rapids, Martin (Michelle) Carnevale of Belmont, Kim (Ron) Pendell of Bloomington, IN, Debbie Elliot of San Diego, CA; grandchildren, Sean Norman, Caitlin (Kyle) Johnson, Syler Moser, Lisa (Ryan) Tabereaux, Amber (Josh) Zink; great-grandchildren, Avery, Dawson, Jackson, Turner, Sophie, Evan, Gilbert; sisters-in-law, Mary Brown and Carol Brown; and many nieces and nephews.

According to her wishes, cremation has taken place. Interment will be in Ft. Scott National Cemetery.

A Celebration of Lynne’s Life will be announced soon. Memorials may be made to Grand Rapids Symphony or Bourbon County Arts Council (KS). Local arrangements are being handled by the Cheney Witt Chapel, 201 S. Main St.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *