Arlene Haarsma

Visitation at Funeral Home

3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Sunday, May 19, 2024
Sanborn Funeral Home
401 Main St.
Sanborn, Iowa, United States
Family will be present at this time.

Memorial Service

2:00 pm
Monday, May 20, 2024
First Reformed Church
512 Summit Street
Sanborn, Iowa, United States

Obituary of Arlene Joyce Haarsma

Please share a memory of Arlene to include in a keepsake book for family and friends.

    Arlene Joyce Verbrugge was born June 1, 1937, to Katherine and Nick Verbrugge in Matlock Iowa. Born prematurely at only 4 lbs., her dad called her his “little shoe-box baby” because she was so tiny she could fit in a shoebox. But the impact of Arlene’s life and generous heart has been anything but tiny.

    Arlene attended Sanborn Christian School and graduated from Western Christian High School in 1955. She attended Midwest Christian Junior College (Dordt University) for 1 1/2 years during its inaugural year of higher education. She left school to start a career at Prins Insurance.

    In 1956, she met Andrew Haarsma at a barn square dance, and the two continued correspondence while Andy was out of state until they married on February 11, 1960. The marriage was blessed with two daughters: Vivian Faye and Valerie Kaye.

    Arlene loved working on the farm, feeding calves, gardening, canning and baking. There was always extra food and coffee for anyone who stopped by at lunchtime and she was always the first one to show up with a pie or a good word for neighbors in difficult situations. Arlene kept people’s mailboxes full of letters and cards of support to friends who were celebrating, sick, grieving, or sad.   

    In 1970, Arlene joined the Hartley Vet Clinic as their office manager where she spent almost 50 years (both full-time and part-time) answering phones and two-way radios, advising farmers, dispensing meds, caring for animals and making popcorn for customers.

    In the early 1990s, the Haarsmas created Trestle Park, a little slice of Iowa heaven across from their home place. Over the past 30 years, countless friends, family and community members have enjoyed picnicking and relaxing along the old covered bridge, cabins, and chapel. Arlene’s amazing hospitality and welcome smile made everyone feel at home. 

    In 2006, Arlene and Andy sold their acreage and moved to Sanborn. Together they started their second career - a scrap metal business, cutting up and sorting old metal all over northwest Iowa and selling it to Shine Bros. in Spencer. After health issues in 2021, they retired from the junking business and moved to Prairie View Inn assisted living.

    Arlene was a member of the Hartley Christian Reformed Church until it closed in 1991, and then a member of Sanborn First Reformed Church where she led vacation Bible school. Arlene volunteered doing Bible study correspondence with prisoners for over 20 years. 

    She passed away peacefully on May 11, 2024, surrounded by her family. Arlene was preceded in death by her parents, Nick and Katherine Verbrugge; step-mother, Stella (Noteboom) Verbrugge; and three siblings: Jim Verbrugge, Myrna Koldenhoven, and Wally Verbrugge.

    Left to cherish her memory are her husband of 64 years, Andy; two daughters: Vivian (Mark) Smith of Mankato, Minnesota; Valerie Green of Salt Lake City, Utah; four grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; one brother, Harvey Verbrugge; and many wonderful friends and family members. Her grandchildren and great-grands treasure the memories of roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, learning the art of cat-whispering, playing games (with no time limits) on the dial-up computer, playing the marble game, making homemade ice cream, and learning to drive on gravel roads.

    All of us (and the US Postal Service!) will miss the regular handwritten cards of encouragement in our mailboxes. In her final days, Arlene said, “I don’t want to make people sad when I die.”  Please celebrate the generous God-given heart of Arlene by loving others unconditionally. Take time each day to encourage someone around you and tell them, “This one is for Arlene”

~  If you would like to give a memorial gift in Arlene's name,
you can donate to  ~

Sanborn First Reformed Church
(Arlene's home church)

Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School
(where Vivian and Mark's kids and grandkids have/will attend high school)

Sanborn Christian School
(Arlene, Viv and Val all attended grade school here)

The Vine Institute, Salt Lake City -
offers Biblical training to immigrant and refugee pastors and church leaders.
This has been a part of Val's community for 25 years.

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