CADILLAC -- Janet Joyce (Smith) DeVries, 94, passed away at Green Acres in Cadillac on July 21, 2020. Her faith became vision as she went home to her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Janet was born in Hastings on Sept. 11, 1925. As the youngest of seven children born to William "Fred" and Maude (Skinner) Smith, she had the privilege of being their only child to arrive in a hospital.
She spent her early years in Prairieville, and at the age of 12, moved with her family to the Upper Peninsula, where her father operated a general store.
Life in the U.P. nurtured Janet's love of nature, and she developed a lifelong fascination of the beauty and harmony of God's creation. Growing up, she enjoyed all outdoor activities, especially winter snow sports. She played trombone in the school band and was active in 4-H, in which she won state honors for sewing.
Janet graduated from McMillan High School in 1943, and on a scholarship attended Western Michigan College of Education (Western Michigan University), graduating in 1947, with a B.A. in sociology.
While attending college she met Robert "Bob" DeVries and they eloped to Bryan, Ohio, in 1947 --t he beginning of their 63 years together. They settled in the Kalamazoo area to raise their family and were blessed with five children.
In 1965, Bob changed careers and the family ventured "up north," embracing a slower-paced, rural lifestyle. Early on, Janet partnered in their retail furniture business and later worked for World Book Encyclopedia as an area manager. She was also employed as a substitute teacher and aide in the Marion and Evart school districts.
As a young adult, Janet dedicated her life to Jesus Christ. She lived out her faith through her prayers, concern, and compassion for others. Janet was a "giver" -- always seeking to help those in need and doing so with a joyful and humble heart.
An active member of her church, she was passionate about child evangelism; teaching Sunday School and VBS, leading a Bible club for young mothers and supporting Mission India. Janet and Bob volunteered at Center Lake Bible Camp, where she enjoyed being the arts and crafts director.
Janet was a creative, healthy cook. She was a pro at making tasty "something out of nothing" meals, and on occasion, cooking up unrecognizable wild game the boys would bring home.
Foraging forests and meadows in search of mushrooms, berries or herbs was a highlight for her. She enjoyed growing and preserving food for her family, often utilizing every part of the plants she raised.
A committed recycler long before it was the social norm, she made do with what was on hand, passing down a "waste not, want not" mindset. Good-natured and fun-loving, Janet put up with many a good ribbing from her children, and loved nothing more than being with her family to share a meal, a memory, a laugh.
Among her many interests were sewing, nature crafts, bird/animal watching, oil painting, local history and bicycling. Janet was a 4-H leader in sewing, and also volunteered in elementary schools for the Better Readers program.
She found much joy working with children and made many special "little" friends over the years.
Bob and Janet loved to travel, and they especially enjoyed exploring throughout northern Michigan and their frequent treks "out west" to visit family.
Upon Bob's retirement, they spent many years wintering in Florida and Arizona and cherished their lasting friendships with fellow "snowbirds."
In her final years, she resided at Green Acres in Cadillac where she delighted in new-found friends, residents and staff alike.
Janet's family sincerely thanks the Green Acres staff who cared for her so lovingly these past few years. She loved you all.
Mom was the embodiment of everything good and selfless in this world. To quote her daughter-in-law, Maggie: "She was exceptional: kind, gentle, strong, faithful and above all so generous with her love, her time, her hands, and her heart;" and son-in-law, Gregg: "She was the grace of God in action."
Mom always ended phone conversations with, "Bye for now." We love you dearly, Mom. Bye for now.
Janet is survived by her five children, Eileen Erfourth, of Marion, Douglas DeVries, of Tustin, Daniel (Maggie) DeVries, of Sonoita, Arizona, Valerie (Bobby) McCormick, of Clemson, South Carolina, and Robin (Gregg) Maxwell, of Lewistown, Montana; 12 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and two step-great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Bob; parents; and siblings, Beatrice, Shirley, Frederick, Ivan, Rex and Mary Jean.
A celebration of Janet's life will be at a later date, and her burial will take place in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Jennings.
Memorials contributions may be directed to Mission India.
The family is being served by the Young-Holdship Funeral Home in Lake City.
Condolences and memories may be shared online at holdshipfuneralhomes.com.