Joan Marjorie (Thompson) Vanden Heuvel, 86, went home to Jesus on July 20, 2020, at her home in Geneva, Minn., following a short battle with acute myeloid leukemia. Joan was born on Sept. 12, 1933, on the family farm outside of Ellendale, Minn., to Anna Julia (Thompson) and Ole O. Thompson, the youngest of three children. She graduated from Ellendale High School at the age of 16 as class valedictorian.
Joan married her high school sweetheart, Elmer Vanden Heuvel, at age 18 on Sept. 30, 1951, at First Lutheran Church in Ellendale, Minn., and together they raised their four children. In 1960, they moved to Geneva and settled into small town living. They enjoyed life to the fullest with lots of love and laughter.
A writing on her wall at home says, “Home is where your story begins.” And her home and family were the center of her life story. Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were her priority and she made a point to attend as many activities as possible. Joan and Elmer were always on the go.
In addition, she instilled a love of music (and discipline) in her children by “encouraging” them to practice at 5:30, 6, 6:30 and 7 in the morning before they went to school.
Joan was very active in Community Lutheran Church, where she was an example of faith in action for her family. Her favorite pastime was quilting and her family and friends were blessed to receive many quilts from her. In addition, she and Elmer looked forward to their annual cruise with friends. She never wanted the cruise to end! Joan treasured her lifelong friends and never forgot a birthday or anniversary.
Joan is survived by her husband of nearly 69 years, Elmer, and their four children Becky Edwards, Steve (Kari) Vanden Heuvel, Julie (Dale) Horihan, and Marcia (Ross) Vermedahl; her nine grandchildren Mitch (Amy) Edwards, Laura (Jamie) Baudoin, Brad (Nicole) Edwards, Adam (Laura) Vanden Heuvel, Marc (Aisha) Vanden Heuvel, Jill (Tom) Scherer, Joanna Vermedahl, John Vermedahl, Jack Vermedahl, and 12 great-grandchildren; brother-in-law John (Barb) Vanden Heuvel and sisters-in-law Alice Bird, Dorothy Huffman, Loretta Hoops, and Donna Burns; and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her in-laws; her son-in-law Gerald Edwards; her brothers Orlando (Bernice) Thompson, and Adrian (Alice) Thompson, sisters- and brothers-in-laws Grace (Roy) Pennacchio, Henry (Audriene) Vanden Heuvel, Ed (Dot) Vanden Heuvel, Harry Bird, Ken Hoops, and Warren Burns.
While Joan’s chapter comes to an end, her story continues in the lives of her beloved family. A memorial service will be held at a later date.