Lighthouse gets a gift

A Grand Haven native’s legacy will be remembered for a long time, thanks to a donation from the family of Mary vandenBerg.
Alex Doty
Nov 28, 2012

“It’s a truly wonderful thing that speaks well of the generosity of our community,” said Holly Johnson, vice president of development for the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation.

The foundation recently received a $200,000 gift to create the Mary “MeiMe” vandenBerg Fund. It will provide support for the Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy and the Kitchel-Lindquist-Hartger Dunes Preserve.

“It’s an endowment fund, so we will only spend a portion of that fund every year,” Johnson said.

VandenBerg died in 2011 at the age of 75.

After graduating from Grand Haven High School, she moved away and became a physical education teacher in Hartford, Conn. She was also a professional Girl Scout in Connecticut and Massachusetts. 

“MeiMe was a woman who never married and had no children,” Johnson said. “She said she wanted to leave her legacy in Grand Haven, where she was born and raised.”

Johnson noted that while vandenBerg discussed with the community foundation about leaving behind part of her estate to honor her legacy, she died before setting the details in stone.

“She passed away within a few years without a will and without an estate plan,” Johnson said.

As a result, her estate was divided up among her family, and Johnson said it wasn’t until later that the family decided that some of the money would be donated to the local community foundation. Johnson noted that the family was under no obligation to give any portion of their inheritance to the foundation.

“They chose to give back a portion of what they inherited to make her legacy live forever,” Johnson said.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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