Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
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Mother leaves legacy of caring




MORENCI, Mich. — Hazel Van Valkenburg-Huff, a farmer’s wife who kept the home for their three biological children as well as numerous foster children and later earned her nursing degree after her first husband’s death, died on Friday at the ProMedica Provincial House in Adrian. She was 83.

The cause of death was attributed to a stroke she suffered at the nursing home, where she had lived for 18 months, her son, the Rev. William Van Valkenburg said.

Mrs. Huff, was born Hazel Betty Louise Biddex on Dec. 27, 1930, near Adrian, the ninth of 10 children to Charles and Florence Biddex.

She graduated from Morenci High School in 1948, and a year later married William Gene Van Valkenburg in Angola, Ind.

The couple moved to Morenci, where they purchased two farms. She helped her husband drive tractors and other dairy and farm chores while raising two daughters and a son.

Mr. Van Valkenburg said his parents began caring for foster children “as a way to get more income into the home.”

For a time, the Van Valkenburgs were caring for seven teenagers in their home, Mr. Van Valkenberg said.

She taught Sunday school, led the youth ministry, and served as deaconess for Canandaigua Community Church, where she and her family were longtime members.

Mr. Van Valkenberg said his parents began helping the Toledo Gospel Mission in the early 1960s, cooking meals at home and delivering them to the church, and offering a sympathetic ear to people in need.

She learned computer programming in the 1960s, driving to Toledo every Saturday for lessons.

“Once computers became important parts of our lives, she wanted nothing more to do with them,” her son said.

In 1974, shortly after their 25th wedding anniversary, her husband was killed in a traffic accident, leaving Mrs. Huff a widow at age 42.

She sold the farm and enrolled in a community college in Jackson, Mich., earning a degree as a licensed practical nurse. She worked for a nursing home, and moved briefly to Arizona to work at one of its facilities there.

She returned to Michigan and volunteered for hospice in Hillsdale County, her son said.

Mr. Van Valkenberg said his sister decided to play matchmaker for their mother by placing a newspaper ad on her behalf. She was open to the move, and two men replied.

She met both men separately on the same day, and decided to develop a relationship with Lloyd Huff.

Mr. Huff was a widower from Port Clinton, whom she married on June 22, 1991. Her son officiated.

“She had been alone 16 or 17 years and was independent, and OK with that,” Mr. Van Valkenberg said.

After meeting Mr. Huff, the couple dated briefly before getting married and moving to Morenci. They were married 14 years; Mr. Huff died in 2005.

Mrs. Huff is survived by daughters Linda DuDonis and Patricia Sims; son Rev. William Van Valkenburg; 10 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.

Visitation is from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. today at Eagle Funeral Home-Charles Fink Chapel in Morenci. There will be no funeral service.

Memorials are suggested to the Lenawee County Mission in Adrian.

Contact: Jim Sielicki at 419-724-6050 or

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