Patricia Ann Mehl Van Dyke passed away on January 25, 2019, at the age of 82. She died peacefully in her room at Clark Retirement Community with daughter Kathy by her side. A lifelong resident of Big Rapids, she made many contributions to the community she so valued. She enjoyed a rich and happy life.
Patricia was born in Big Rapids on March 18, 1936, to E.G. (“Barney’”) and Lydia (Klausing) Mehl. She attended Big Rapids High School, spent her freshman year of college at the University of Michigan, and later took courses at what is now Ferris State University. She married Gordon Van Dyke on January 5, 1957, and they were happily married until his passing. They had three daughters, Kathryn, Debra, and Nella. They raised their daughters in a home filled with unconditional love, humor, and music. We will always remember her kind, joyful, and generous spirit (and her sparkle). She adored babies and children, and they loved her. Pat never failed to make a sweet and thoughtful comment to nearly everyone she encountered.
Pat enjoyed music and dancing her entire life. As a young woman, Pat played bass drum in the BRHS marching and concert bands, sang in a trio, worked at the Big Rapids movie theater, and generally enjoyed life. She sang in the United Church choir for many years and served as Director of its Junior Choir for a time. Even as her health declined at Clark, she enjoyed music, frequently engaging in dance moves. Some of her kids’ favorite childhood memories are hearing her play the piano while they played outside.
She also loved the outdoors. She and Gord enjoyed fishing on the Pine River and hunting for morel mushrooms. For many years they took annual dry-fly trout fishing trips out west, particularly enjoying the Madison River in Montana. Pat and Gord loved travelling, with numerous visits to England and Europe; Florida; Lake Tahoe, CA; Phoenix, AZ; as well as visiting Alaska and other US locales.
Pat lived life to the fullest and actively participated in community service. Very generous with her time, Pat’s contributions to the community are too many to list, so we offer a few highlights. She was a founding member of the Mecosta County Community Foundation and held several offices with the organization. She also was a founding member of the Mecosta County Hospital Foundation, served on the Mecosta County Hospital Board of Trustees, and was a member of the Hospital Auxiliary. Pat and Gord were avid Ferris State hockey fans and supporters of the Blue Line Club, jointly serving together as the first Presidents of the Club. In the more distant past she was very active in the Humanities Council of West Central Michigan, serving as its Executive Director, President, and Treasurer. She was co-Chair of the Big Rapids 125th Anniversary Celebration Committee and a community representative on the Ferris
Centennial Celebration Committee. She also supported the local public schools, as a member and President of the high school Band Boosters Club and a member of the site committee for the high school building campaign. She loved Big Rapids and enjoyed contributing to its well-being.
Pat is survived by her three daughters, Kathryn Van Dyke (Kendall Krause), Debra (Chris) Hecker, and Nella Van Dyke (Irenee Beattie); three grandchildren: Patty Krause, Elsa Van Dyke, and Sadie Van Dyke; her siblings Marilyn (Mehl) Fulmer, David Mehl, and Thomas Mehl; and nine nieces and nephews.
A celebration of life will be held at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, May 18, 2019 at the Mohnke Funeral Home in Big Rapids, MI. In lieu of flowers, donations in her honor may be made to the Mecosta County Community Foundation – Community Needs Fund, PO Box 1012, Big Rapids, MI 49307; or the Alzheimer’s Association, alz.org.