Charlene Margaret VanDongen
December 19, 1930 – August 18, 2020
With loved ones by her side, Charlene M. Ross VanDongen, 89, peacefully passed away in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Aug. 18, 2020. She was born Dec. 19, 1930, to Charles H. and Margaret A. (Betty) Ross, in Battle Creek, Mich.
Charlene graduated from Battle Creek Central High School in 1948. She was a flautist in the school's band, where she met her high school sweetheart, Jack VanDongen. She went on to attend Western Michigan University prior to marrying Jack on April 17, 1951 at Trinity Reformed Church in Battle Creek.
The newlyweds lived in Fort Knox, Ky., where Jack was stationed during the Korean War until 1952. They moved back to the Battle Creek area, settling in and raising their four children, until moving to Fort Pierce, Fla., in 1987. They had 67 wonderful years of marriage. Charlene was preceded in death by her parents; brother Chuck; and husband Jack. She is survived by her sons, Daniel (Becky) VanDongen, of Battle Creek, and Fred (Sue) VanDongen, of Mt. Pleasant, S.C.; and daughters Diane (Brad) Schwent, of Walkerton, Ind., and Janet (Ed) Drake, of Pittsburgh. She is also survived by 13 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.
Charlene was always an active church member, who enjoyed singing in the choir and being involved in the women's ministries circle group. She enjoyed her years at Beadle Lake and spending time on the water with her family and grandchildren. She also liked to walk or read at the ocean boardwalk in Florida. As a lover of reading, she was a volunteer reading tutor at an elementary school for several years.
Charlene loved both watching and attending baseball games, playing Yahtzee and dominoes with her children and grandchildren throughout the years, playing canasta weekly with her friends, and doing the daily crossword puzzle. She will be remembered for loving Christ, being a good daughter, wife, mother, grandma, a “really” great-grandma (her words) and friend to many.
A private family graveside service will be held at Battle Creek Memorial Park.
Memories and condolences to the family can be left in Charlene's obituary guestbook at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/battlecreek.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Charlene's name can be made to www.booksforkids.org.