Insightsthe blog of Porter Hills
Ken and Arloa Vander Kolk – The Gift of Love
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
Ken and Arloa Vander Kolk had a storybook marriage, says their daughter, Judy Levick. “It was an amazing love story. They were happily married for nearly 68 years.”
Both from Zeeland, Michigan, their courtship began while Ken was a pre-med student at University of Michigan and Arloa was studying to be a nurse. They married and raised four children.
Over the years, Ken enjoyed an illustrious career as an OB/Gyn at Butterworth Hospital, delivering 6,000 babies! Their daughter, Judy, became a medical social worker, working in the NICU at the same hospital.
The couple moved to Cook Valley Estates upon retiring. “They had friends who had lived at Porter Hills,” says Judy, “and they heard it was the best.” Ken and Arloa were among the first to sign up for one of Cook Valley’s new condos in 2000. In 2015, they took advantage of Porter Hills’ continuum of care at Porter Hills Village and, in their final days, were cared for by Porter Hills’ Emmanuel Hospice. “Their care was wonderful,” says Judy. “So many special people provided comfort, compassion and love for my parents.”
One such example shared by Judy was during her mom’s last day in hospice care. A music therapist came to her mom’s room and asked her family what kind of music she liked. “We told her our parents loved to dance, so she suggested a waltz,” says Judy. Ken had passed away just ten weeks earlier. “She began to play and, with Mom’s last breath, we imagined that she was waltzing into Dad’s arms.”
Arloa had been an avid jewelry maker and she shared many of her creations with Porter Hills residents and team members. After her passing, Judy and her sister attended the craft show at Porter Hills with their mom’s jewelry, donating the proceeds to the Porter Hills Benevolent Care Fund. While there, Judy stopped by her parents’ condo. “They loved to feed the birds. Where the sunflower seeds had dropped, there was a beautiful display of sunflowers blooming by their patio with two white butterflies fluttering among them,” says Judy. “It’s sad but very healing to go back. There are lots of good memories of my parents at Porter Hills.”
Generous and faithful, the Vander Kolks included Porter Hills in their giving and were members of the Porter Hills Legacy Society. “They were the most gracious, grateful, positive people,” says Judy of her parents. “The Benevolent Care Fund motivated their giving, but today, I believe they would be inspired by the Education Fund for Porter Hills’ amazing team members, to honor them and help promote their healthcare careers.”