Velma Marie De Prenger was born in a small house that sat along the Muchakinock Creek, south of Leighton, on Jan. 27, 1921. She was the oldest of five children born to William and Gertrude (Voss) De Prenger and her middle name was in honor of her grandmother Marie De Prenger.
Velma attended grade school at Black Oak and Scott Center Country School wearing clothes that she and her mother had sewn and by the time she was in eighth grade, was sewing her own clothes, and also knew how to knit, crochet, and embroider. She was privileged to be able to attend high school in Pella, which she enjoyed. Her mantra was, "work hard and do your best."
Following her junior year, she was a nanny to a Jewish family that lived in Des Moines, and during her last year of high school she lived at home and rode with a teacher, Bernice De Reus. Velma graduated from Pella High School in 1938 and because she had earned her Normal Training Certificate while in high school, she was qualified to teach school. Additional classes were taken at Iowa State Teacher's College in Cedar Falls, and she taught country schools at Greeley, Pleasant Ridge, West Amsterdam, Black Oak #6 and Leighton. She was expected to keep a fire going in the winter, sometimes carrying in as many as 14 buckets of coal in a day. Velma was a popular teacher and her students looked forward to the field trips she took them on, often including a train ride.
On May 31, 1940, she and her sister, Betty, made profession of their faith at the Ebenezer Reformed Church in Leighton. Also attending Ebenezer Church was a handsome young farmer named Wilbur John Rempe. They began attending church together and after church on Sunday nights would ride around the city square in Pella.
Velma and Wilbur were married on Oct. 26, 1944, in the first church wedding ever held in the Ebenezer Church. She and her mother sewed her wedding dress together (which her daughter Connie also later wore at her wedding) and she painted a pair of white shoes with silver lacquer paint. Her Leighton school students were invited to sit in the balcony and guests enjoyed a nice meal afterward, including creme horns.
Velma and Wilbur were blessed with two children, Stanley Jay and Connie Lou. They lived on the family farm all their married life where Velma was an integral part of the farming operation, assisted with the milking and was very mechanical. Although she claimed to not enjoy cooking, and turned that duty over to Connie, she was known for her delicious divinity with black walnuts. Velma and Wilbur took great pride when their son, Stan, and his son, Joe, assumed the operation. Wilbur passed away on July 23, 2000, at the age of 78 years. Velma continued to live on the farm until becoming a resident of Fair Haven East at Pella, Iowa in 2000 until her recent move to Jefferson Place in December 2011.
She lived life with style and grace, exemplifying her class motto, "The greater the obstacle the more glory in overcoming it." Velma passed away on Tuesday morning, March 20, 2012, at the Hospice of Pella Comfort House in Pella at the age of 91 years.
Those left to honor her life are her two children and their spouses, six grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. They and their families are: Stan J. and Karen (Gosselink) Rempe of Otley; Joseph and Carrie (Herold) Rempe of Leighton; Benjamin and Renee (Vos) Rempe of Pella; Connie L. and D. LeRoy Blommers of Pella; Ami (Wittenbaugh) and Chad Swank of Reasnor; Morgan Swank, Johnathan Swank, Jody (Blommers) and Chris Van Patten of Oskaloosa; Brian Gott, Stephanie Gott, Sophie Bunnell, Nathan Gott, Abby Gott, Jason and Carrie (Hugen) Blommers of Leighton, Kelcey Blommers, Lindsey Blommers, Ashley Blommers, Joe and Heather (Merringer) Blommers of Eddyville; Alison Blommers, Zach McElroy and Madeline McElroy.
Velma leaves a sister, Francene (Robert) Hugen of Pella, her two brothers and their wives: Herbert and Jeanne De Prenger of Des Moines, Howard and Marcia De Penger of Pella; and a brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Allen G. and Florence Rempe of Leighton. She was preceded in death by her husband, Wilbur Rempe; a grandson, Grant Todd Blommers, who passed away Sept. 13, 1987, at the age of 18 months; her parents, William and Gertrude De Prenger; her sister and her husband, Betty and Bert Van Arendonk and her brother-in-law, Robert Hugen; her nephews: Keith Van Arendonk, Dennis Van Arendonk, and Ken Hugen; and her parents-in-law, Abraham and Christena (Van Engelenhoven) Rempe.
Velma had been active with the Black Oak and Scott Center Homemakers, Mahaska County Farm Bureau and Centennial Circle. She and Wilbur enjoyed traveling throughout the United States and in Europe and were active with the Gideon’s. She was a former, longtime member of the Ebenezer Reformed Church in Leighton, and later transferred her membership to the Heartland Reformed Church in Pella. Velma was the first President of the Dorcas Circle there, assumed the role of the librarian and Sunday School remained a very significant part of her Christian walk. The family thanks God for giving her to them, and in return, gives her back to live in eternal glory with her Heavenly Father.
Funeral services were held on Friday, March 23, 2012 at the Heartland Reformed Church in Pella. Arrangements were handled by Van Dyk – Duven Funeral Home.