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Shirley Mae (Ham) Van Groningen
Jul. 17, 1935 - Jul. 1, 2020
Sutton resident Shirley Mae (Ham) Van Groningen, 84, passed away Wednesday, July 1, 2020, at Memorial Hospital in Aurora, NE.
Private graveside services will be conducted at the Sutton Cemetery in Sutton, NE. Visitation with a closed casket will be Sunday, July 5, 2020, from 1 p.m. – 8 p.m., at Sutton Memorial Chapel in Sutton, NE. We will follow the DHM social distancing guidelines at the visitation.
A book signing will be held Monday, July 6, 2020 - Thursday, July 9, 2020, from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m., at Zion Lutheran Church in Sutton, NE.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to the family to be designated later.
Shirley Mae Ham Van Groningen was born in Saronville, NE on July 17, 1935, to parents Ernest Oliver and Blanch Ella (Higgins) Ham.
Shirley grew up on the family farm, one mile west of Saronville and attended Saronville School through Grade 8. She was a member of the Saronville Methodist Church.
Shirley graduated from Sutton High School in 1952. In high school, she was remembered as being a kind and lively spirit. Her friend Leota Ehly recalls that at lunch-time Shirley and Leota left school to drive to Saronville in Shirleys Father's car “a big Chrysler” a good car for the time. They picked up Shirley’s brother, Howard, to take him to kindergarten in Sutton. Shirley let Leota drive sometimes and Leota will never tell how fast she drove.
Leota noted that Shirley was smart about farming and learned a lot growing up on the farm.
Shirley loved growing up on the farm. She drove tractors for her father at an early age and later trucks and auger wagons on her own family farm for the men during harvest.
After high school, Shirley moved to Lincoln, where she worked at Security Mutual Life Insurance for 10 years.
Shirley’s roommate Charlotte Gronewald set her up on a blind date with her boyfriend, Roger Gronewald’s friend Richard E. Van Groningen. Shirley and Richard were married in Lincoln in November 1958. To this union two children were born, Jerry Lynn Van Groningen in 1961 and Judy Kay Van Groningen in 1964. In 1964, Shirley and Richard moved to Shirley’s birthplace to help her father Ernest farm. In 1969, they moved to their farmstead, 2 miles north and 2 miles West of Sutton where they lived, Shirley for 51 years.
Shirley devoted her life to her family and their farm life. She excelled at cooking, baking from scratch, and canning from her well-known garden and family orchard. The apples, peaches and produce from the Orchard were made up into pies. Shirley had mastered pie crust making but still often asked her family, “Did you like the Crust?”
Shirley cherished family and holiday get-togethers as it gave her a chance to make a Swedish Custard dish called Ostakaka. Camping, when farming allowed a break, was one of Shirley’s pleasures. When Jerry and Judy were young children the family camped at Lovewell, Harlan and Pawnee Lake. The family remembers their mother’s picnic meals, new friends, boating, skiing, all part of what a mothers’ love can allow for.
In the last 10 years, Shirley and Richard took their camper South to visit Judy in Houston, TX for a reprieve from the Winter chill.
Shirley loved going to Sutton School sporting events, especially when her children, Jerry and Judy played on the teams.
Shirley and Richard enjoyed watching and going to Husker football, basketball, baseball and volleyball.
Shirley made quilts, with many given as gifts to newborns, friends and family.
She was involved with her Zion Lutheran Church both in Saronville and Sutton. At the annual soup feed, people looked forward to her homemade pies.
Shirley was a hard-working woman with common sense and a practical approach to life. She was also blessed by the Spirit of Generosity, Kindness, Giving and a capacity for Love and Graciousness.
Shirley is survived by husband, Richard Van Groningen of Sutton, NE; son, Jerry Van Groningen of Sutton, NE; daughter, Judy Van Groningen of Houston, TX; and sister, Bona Jean Driewer of Aurora, NE.
Shirley was preceded in death by father, Earnest O. Ham; mother, Blanch E. (Higgins) Ham; sister, Patsy Hemje; and brother, Howard Ham.
Shirley was deeply loved by her family and will be missed by family and friends.
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