Cover photo for Darlene Joostberns's Obituary
Darlene Joostberns Profile Photo

Darlene Joostberns

Darlene Kay Joostberns was born on September 7, 1944, in Allegan, Michigan, to Albert Kizer and Coral (Meyer) Kizer.  She was the second of three children and the only girl. Darlene grew up in Allegan and attended Allegan Public Schools. 

Darlene married her high school sweetheart, Andrew (Tom) Joostberns on October 1, 1960, and from this union five children were born, Andrew Jr., Tony, Randy, Scott, and they saved the best for last when they had their daughter, Debra. Such a relief after four boys!

Darlene and Tom lived for several years in Allegan and enjoyed spending time with their family playing cards, spoons and going snowmobile riding. Darlene and the boys could often be found spending time with her sisters-in-law while Tom worked on cars with his brothers-in-law. Wherever Tom went, so did Darlene and the boys…. she was not going to be left home alone with the four of them! 

In 1966, they moved to Vermontville, Michigan when Tom took a job working for the Board of Water and Light in Lansing. In 1972, Darlene began working as a school bus driver for Maple Valley Schools, which she enjoyed doing for the next 30 years, until she retired in 2002. While she enjoyed the normal pick up and drop offs during the school day, she especially enjoyed taking the sports teams to their away games.  Driving bus also allowed Darlene to attend her kids school events and parties during the day. Bus driving was very important to Darlene, and she would often talk about it right up until she passed. 

While working at Maple Valley, Darlene developed many close and long-lasting friendships, who also served as a second set of eyes to keep the boys in line when she wasn’t around.  Darlene and Tom were very actively involved in the community, coaching little league, being Cub Scout Troop Leaders and being key members of the Maple Valley Athletic Boosters.  On most Tuesday and Thursday nights, you would either find Darlene working or playing bingo at the high school or the VFW and on Sundays, you would find her bowling at Char-Lanes in Charlotte.

Darlene enjoyed camping, fishing, and traveling. Often taking trips to Florida, Vegas and fishing at Rice Lake, Canada every summer with friends.  While Darlene was not afraid to put a worm on the hook, she left the cleaning of the fish to Tom.  Darlene and Tom had many, many wonderful adventures, starting out with 2 boys and a pop-up tent, and eventually worked up to just Deb and a 32’ motorhome, named The Roundball Express, which was taken to many Gus Macker Tournaments. While Tom was in charge of driving the motorhome, Darlene was in charge of keeping them on course using the AAA TripTik.  

After Tom passed in 1998, Darlene’s focus shifted to her grandchildren. She loved to attend any and all sporting events. To keep herself involved, she became the official scorebook keeper of the girls’ basketball team, and she would attend weekend AAU tournaments in Detroit, Chicago or wherever the kids were playing.  She also volunteered her time at her granddaughters’ elementary, assisting the students with reading and helping the teachers prep their activities for the day. Everyone knew Grandma Jo and her pocket jellybeans.

One of Darlene’s lifelong dreams was to live on a lake. That dream became a reality in 2010 when she moved to Long Lake in Dowling, Michigan. Darlene loved to sit on the dock and fish or sit in her sunroom and watch the wildlife.  Living on the lake created long lasting memories with family and friends of cookouts, fish fries, tubing or just cruising the lake in the pontoon on a summer afternoon. 

Darlene departed this life on May 3, 2024, after a long battle with dementia. Darlene was preceded in death by her parents, her loving husband, Andrew Joostberns, two brothers, Robert Kizer and David Kizer, and her granddaughter, Jennifer Joostberns.  She leaves to cherish her memory, five children, Andrew (Susan) Joostberns, Tony (Brenda) Joostberns, Randy (Joene) Joostberns, Scott Joostberns, and Debra (Torriea) Carpenter-Bradford. She also leaves behind 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life will be held for Darlene on Saturday, May 18, 2024, at the VFW at 304 S State St. Nashville, Michigan.   There will be a memorial service from 11:00am-12:00pm and will follow with light appetizers and drinks from 12:00pm-2:00pm for friends and family to share memories of Darlene.

The family would like to give a special thanks to Kauhale Otsego for all of the support and care that they provided Darlene over the past 3 years and thank you to Heartland Hospice for helping keep Darlene comfortable over the past few months. 

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to be made to the Maple Valley Athletic Boosters, Dementia Society of America (www:// or Heartland Hospice (


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