Merrilyn L. Van Gelder

Merrilyn L. Van Gelder

May 22nd, 1929 September 12th, 2019

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Obituary for Merrilyn L. Van Gelder

Van Gelder, Merrilyn Louise (Greeley) 90, formerly of Newfane Vermont, passed away peacefully on September 12, 2019 in Massachusetts. Beloved wife of Paul D. Van Gelder, they celebrated 67 joyous years of marriage before his passing last year. Daughter of the late Merrill Lincoln Greeley and Louise Greeley (McKee), she graduated from Leonia High School in New Jersey.

Devoted mother of Paula Van Gelder and Betsy V.G. Mariere, both of Cambridge MA, Martha Van Gelder of Denver CO and Brett Van Gelder of Winchester MA. Loving grandmother of Wesley Mariere, Louis Mariere, Lindsay Van Gelder and Cole Van Gelder. She is further survived by her extended family, Dennis Mariere, Louise Van Gelder and John Gypton, eight nieces and nephews, her many friends, and her church families at both the Newfane Congregational Church and Dunbar Hill United Congregational Church in Hamden, CT where she served in many roles including Deacon.

An only child, Merrilyn found life-long sisterhood through her friends at Skidmore College, where she graduated with a degree in Psychology. For many years she served as alumna president of the Skidmore Class of 1951. She also volunteered in several chapters of the Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.), a U.S.-based organization that funds scholarships for women worldwide.

After moving to several states across the country for Paul’s career, their family settled in Hamden CT. Raising four children was Merrilyn’s greatest joy, creating the big family she never had. She worked as a tutor for homebound students, was a docent at the New Haven Historical Society and served on the board of the local YMCA outdoor center. Always in motion, she enjoyed tennis, swimming and bowling, and could still execute a cartwheel from her Leonia High cheerleading days.

Skiing drew the Van Gelder family, to Newfane where they built a small vacation home on Railroad Lane, enjoying every season along the West River.

Upon retirement Paul and Merrilyn left CT and built their dream home on Route 30, spending thirty years as part of the Newfane community. She owned and operated the “Auntie M’s Attic” antique shop in the red barn on their property for 17 years. Her next creative venture was “M’s Gems,” handcrafted jewelry made from beads collected at the annual Tucson Arizona Gem Show.

An accomplished knitter (dubbed “flashing needles”), crafter, and gardener, she was renowned for her baking skills. Her apple pie recipe is a legacy carried on at the annual Newfane Heritage Festival.

A Celebration of Life service will be held on Saturday, October 26 at 1:00pm at the Newfane Congregational Church (on the town green), 11 Church Street 05345. All are welcome.

In lieu of flowers, the Van Gelder family requests that donations be made in her name to either: The “Community Table” food program at Newfane Congregational Church; or the Grace Hospital Foundation, PO Box 1, Townshend, VT 05353.

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Service Details

  • Celebration of Life

    Saturday, October 26th, 2019 | 1:00pm
    Newfane Congregational Church
    11 Church St.
    Newfane, Vermont
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email |
    Saturday, October 26th, 2019
    On the Town green.
  • Interment

    Interment will be Private
    Address Not Available

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Michael Zimmer

Wow! What a wonderful life. Truly impressive and one to celebrate. You have been so fortunate to have for so many years. RIP Mrs. Van Gelder.
Comment | Posted at 10:33am via Condolence

Katie Gibbins

Thinking of you all and feeling privileged to have met and celebrated joyous occasions with Merrilyn and Paul over the last 25 years. She was a wonderful mother and a kind caring and energetic woman who I remember always smiling and enjoying good conversation. She will be sadly missed but is now reunited forever with her lovely Paul.
Comment | Posted at 10:27am via Condolence

Joanne Livesey

My sincere condolences, Martha. Reading of your mother’s life, enthusiasms and accomplishments convinces me I would have loved knowing her and explains how you have become such a talented and amazing woman.
Comment | Posted at 06:58am via Condolence

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