Violet ‘Lucy’ VandenHeede, of Niles

Oct. 24, 1937 — March 5, 2020

Violet “Lucy” Lucille VandenHeede, 82, of Niles, passed away peacefully, surrounded by her loving family, on Thursday, March 5, 2020.

The second child of LeRoy and Violet Mark, Lucy was born at home in Niles, on Sunday, Oct. 24, 1937.

Lucy grew up on Niles’ west side and graduated from Niles Central High School in 1955.

After graduating high school, Lucy went to work for the Niles Federal Savings and Loan where she became head teller.

In 1958, Lucy went to work designing advertisements at the Niles Daily Star. It was there she met her husband, John, who was interning there as a student at Michigan State University.

Lucy and John were married Sept. 10, 1960, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, in Niles.

When John was drafted into the U.S. Army, the couple moved to Kentucky, where Lucy continued her career in journalism. She worked as a copywriter for the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Following John’s service, the couple returned to Lucy’s hometown of Niles and she worked as the public relations and advertising director for a local bank. Lucy also worked as a freelance artist, designing advertisements for multiple clients.

Following the birth of her two children, Katrina and Daniel, Lucy started a ceramics business. She ran Luv Ceramics out of her home for more than 20 years, sharing her love of art and teaching ceramics to many people in the greater Niles area.

After retirement, Lucy and John began traveling abroad and taking summer golf trips. They took many trips to Belgium, where they connected with John’s family. Lucy greatly enjoyed spending time with her family, particularly her grandchildren, and being a master of many card and board games.

In 2013, Lucy and John took their family (children and grandchildren) on a two-week trip to London and Belgium. They also took summer vacations to Beaver Island in northern Michigan for the last 45 years.

Family was very important to Lucy and preserving family memories became a special hobby. Lucy put together annual books filled with family photos and memorabilia, which her family will treasure for years to come. She loved having family get together at her home on the Dowagiac River, where she and John lived for 55 years. Lucy and John had a large garden and enjoyed feeding and watching birds. The couple have a life-list of 69 different bird species that have visited their backyard.

Lucy was a long-time member and served on the board of directors for the Niles Art Association. She was also a member of the Buchanan Art Center, where she recently won a first-place award for a rug she made by hand. Lucy also enjoyed many years of playing golf with the Wednesday Morning Golf League at Plym Park.

Lucy will be lovingly remembered by her, husband, of 59 years, John; daughter, Katrina (Keith) Andrews; son, Daniel (Jodie) VandenHeede; sister, Louise Elliot; and brother, Roy (Tillie) Mark. She will also be fondly remembered by her five grandchildren, Shawn Calhoun, Elizabeth VandenHeede, Mark (Alisa) Calhoun, Samuel VandenHeede, Katherine (Nick) Zeigert; and great-granddaughter, Addison Calhoun.

Lucy was preceded in death by her sister, Christine (Rob) Hitt.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be directed to the Niles Art Association. Checks can be made out to “Niles Art Association” and mailed to P.O. Box 801, Niles, MI 49120.

Family and friends of Lucy are invited to celebrate her life during an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 14, at Mission Hills Memorial Gardens, 61453 M-51, Niles.

Condolences, photos, and memories may be left for the family at

Arrangements have been entrusted to Brown Funeral Home & Cremation Services, of Niles.

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