Welcome to the memorial page for

Judy Mae (Preece) Tarbell

February 27, 1926 ~ May 9, 2017 (age 91)

On May 9, 2017, Judy Preece Tarbell passed away at the age of 92. 

Mrs. Tarbell had been in declining health in recent months in an assisted living facility and passed away after a few days in hospice care. She and her husband Ken, who preceded her in death in November 2015 at age 89, were longtime residents of Grand Rapids.

Judy was born February 14, 1925, to Harry and Thelma Preece in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she was raised and graduated from high school. The family moved to Chicago where she studied nursing at Little Company of Mary and became a Registered Nurse. After the family moved to East Lansing she headed the obstetrics ward at Sparrow Hospital.

It was in East Lansing that Judy met the love of her life, Ken Tarbell, a graduate student in forestry at Michigan State. In 1949 they were married in Peoples Church in East Lansing. The young couple then moved to Ken’s hometown of Sheldon, Conn., to live with Ken’s parents. Judy worked in nursing while Ken and his father worked nights to build their first house. The couple later moved to Chattanooga, Tenn., where their two children, Ken III and Susan, were born. In time the family moved to Grand Rapids for Ken’s new business, G &T Industries, a foam fabricating business that continues today. Judy continued to work in nursing until 1958 when she devoted herself fulltime to her family. After Ken retired in 1991 the couple enjoyed more than 20 years in Hilton Head, S.C. before moving home to their beloved Grand Rapids.

Judy was a fashionable, stylish dresser. She had a sweet personality, the result, her family always said, of being born on Valentine’s Day. She had a great sense of humor and could be driven to laugh until she cried. A terrific cook, she made feasts of the wild game her sportsman husband brought home. Family and friends relished her cream puffs with hot fudge sauce, Yorkshire pudding, and oyster stew.

Her two children remember her as the “best mom ever” who was never angry, cross, or disapproving. Rather, she was positive, a motivator and a genuine “people person.” Despite the health issues she endured in later years she never lost her positive and sweet nature and continued to make new friends.

She was preceded in death by Ken Tarbell, her beloved partner in life through 66 years of marriage, her brother in law Richard Felt, and her parents.

She is survived by her children Ken and Sue of Grand Rapids, grandchildren Kristen (Aaron) Moore and Andrew Vandermolen, sister Irene Preece Felt,  nephews Rich (Kim) and Gary (Sheila) and niece Laurie Felt, all of California, and nephew Mark (Rhonda) Emaus of Georgia.

Funeral services will be conducted at 7:00 p.m. Monday, May 15th at Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Home in Grand Rapids under the direction of Pastor Josh Blunt, with viewing one hour prior to service. Burial will take place in Woodlawn Cemetery.

The family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Salvation Army of Grand Rapids, 1235 Fulton Street, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

Charitable donations may be made to:

The Salvation Army
1215 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids MI 49503
Tel: 1-616-459-3433
Web: http://sawmni.org/

 Service Information

May 15, 2017

6:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Service
4291 Cascade Road SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Funeral Service
May 15, 2017

7:00 PM
Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Service
4291 Cascade Road SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

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