Mieke Belia Villerius (née de Jong)
July 7, 1937 - November 24, 2023
Passed away in Minneapolis, Minnesota in hospice care, at age 86.
Formerly of Hillsborough, New Jersey and Saline, Michigan, Mieke Belia Villerius was born in Mijnsheerenland, Netherlands, the middle child of Hugo de Jong and Jannigje de Jong-Kooij.
In July 1956, a week after they were married, this 19-year-old bride and her husband Frank departed Rotterdam on the s.s. Maasdam for the United States, and settled in Holland, Michigan.
Mieke took care of young children Betty and John while Frank completed a bachelor's degree at Hope College. In 1963, they moved to New Jersey where Frank entered New Brunswick Theological Seminary. To help pay expenses, Mieke cooked meals in the seminary kitchen for students, with their two small children running around.
Upon graduation in 1966, they moved to Hillsborough, New Jersey where Frank was ordained to serve the congregation of the South Branch Reformed Church. As was expected of clergy spouses then, Mieke supported Frank's ministry for 26 years, with little recognition. She was a regular presence in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, annual Harvest Home dinners and Christmas craft bazaars, Ladies Guild and the handbell choir. She often made meals for families experiencing illness or grief.
In addition to church duties, Mieke maintained two parsonages in immaculate condition with typical Dutch cleanliness and propriety. She was thrifty by necessity, sewing all her own clothes, reupholstering furniture, painting and wallpapering many rooms in the parsonages, cutting her husband's and son's hair. She regularly volunteered as class mother at Woodfern Elementary School.
For 10 years, Mieke worked in the laboratory at Somerset Hospital (now RWJUH-Somerset). She excelled first as a phlebotomist, then as a histology technician and eventually as manager of the blood bank.
Culturally, Mieke was like a stateless person, meaning she never quite figured out how to fit in as an American but also lost some of her Dutch identity. She never used a computer or a smartphone during her lifetime. She bravely dealt with clinical depression for many of her adult years.
In retirement, Mieke has been a devoted oma to her five grandchildren. She has been a faithful member and volunteer in several churches, most recently of First Presbyterian Church in Saline, Michigan.
Mieke was preceded in death by her parents, infant daughter Mary Ann, beloved sister Lucy Monhemius-de Jong, treasured sister-in-law Janneke Gijmink-Villerius and cherished friends Elizabeth "Scottie" Munro and Lorene Stegink.
She is survived by her husband of 67 years, Frank Villerius of Bedminster, New Jersey, daughter Betty Jahnke and husband Jay of Saline, Michigan, son John Villerius and wife Melinda of Minneapolis, Minnesota, grandchildren Katey Halbert and husband Matthew, Brett Jahnke, Paul Villerius, Peter Villerius and wife Lyndsay, Miri Villerius, brother Cor de Jong, childhood friend Annie de Vroet-Graveland, cousins, nieces and nephews.
Memorial donations can be made to Care Village Outreach, Inc., a South African mission project, supported by First Presbyterian Church of Saline, online at: cvoutreach.org or by mail: Care Village Outreach, PO Box 729, Saline, MI 48176.
A memorial service will be arranged in the coming months, with the date and location to be determined.
Correspondence to: Villerius Family, 4732 14th Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55407
Isaiah 57:2 (in Dutch)
Toch wie de rechte weg bewandelt zal rust hebben op zijn sterfbed en de vrede binnengaan.