Shirley Rapelje

Obituary of Shirley Mae Rapelje

Shirley Mae Rapelje, 82, was called unexpectedly home to her Lord on Dec. 23, 2018. Born July 27, 1936 in Holland, Michigan. Shirley was a lifelong resident of Lansing. Her greatest pride were her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. She showed no favoritism for any of them. The one who she was with was the one idolized at that time.  Her love for children extended to the friends of her children, especially the Harriett Street children. It is her love and unwavering guidance as a parent that will undoubtedly be her greatest legacy. She instilled in her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren a respect for all people and an everyday spirituality that will continue to guide their lives on a daily basis.

          Shirley raised her six children on her own when her oldest child was 8 and the youngest was less than 6 months. At that time, professional social workers recommended the dividing of the family because it would be impossible for a single woman to raise such a large family.  Social programs to assist families were nearly nonexistence. With quiet courage, Shirley was determined to raise all six of her children on her own. She enrolled in what is now Davenport College and earned a Certificate in Business, while working multiple part-time jobs. Receiving her Certificate in Business lead to her gaining employment with the State of Michigan where she worked for several departments, including the Department of Human Services, assisting in starting up the Lottery Department, and the WIC program for the Department of Health.

          Shirley was also involved in numerous community organizations, including leadership positions in many of them. These included the Salvation Army and its Advisory Committee, Kiwanis Gold K, UAW Local 6000, Eaton County Democratic Party, and Eaton County Election Board of Canvassers.  She was very proud of taking part in the historical recount of the 2016 Election.  She was still very active in many of these organizations.

          Shirley was preceded in death by her daughter, Karen Kay Rapelje-Short, granddaughter, Karena Short, and parents, Carl and Stella VanRaalte. She is survived by her five sons, David (Mary), Mark (Linda), Eugene, Matthew, and Clarence (Karen), 10 grandchildren, and 6 great grandchildren, and sister, Virginia Gorden-Merriman.

          The Celebration of Shirley’s Life will be held on Monday, Dec. 31, 2018, at 11:00 a.m., at Tiffany Funeral Home, 3232 W. Saginaw Street, Lansing, Michigan. Visitation is from 2 – 4 p.m. and 6 – 8 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Lansing Salvation Army or the Kiwanis Golden K Club in memory of Shirley.