Joan B. Rifenbark

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Our beautiful mother, Joan Barbara (Atkinson) Rifenbark, passed away peacefully surrounded by her family at home on Jan. 2, 2019. Joan was born in Traverse City, on Feb. 15, 1948, the daughter of Wilmer and Margaret Atkinson. She graduated from Traverse City Central high school in 1966. She married her husband, Gerald "Jerry" on Sept. 23, 1972 and they spent 46 years devoted to one another.
She was the loving mother of three children; daughters, Sarah (Dan) Valbak, of Ashburn, Virginia, Angela (Tom) Brown, of Bear Lake; and son, Gerald (Amanda) Rifenbark, of Chicago, Illinois. She will be deeply missed by her four beautiful grandchildren, Olivia (age 16) and Chandler Valbak (age 13), Jake Brown (age 11) and Marley Rifenbark (age 1). Her fondest pastimes were spending quality time with her family. Joan is also survived by her eldest brother, Robert (Patricia) Atkinson, of Maple City; and her youngest brother, Wilmer Atkinson, of Syracuse, New York.
Joan's strong trust in God helped carry her through many difficult days as she battled cancer. Her faith was visible in the compassion she showed toward others. Anyone who knew her, knew that her family was everything to her. Joan absolutely loved her hometown, Traverse City. Her most cherished constant was spending each summer downtown during Cherry Festival with her family and closest friends. She had a deep appreciation for the beauty of the water and the cherished times spent during her childhood as well as continuing that legacy with her children and their children. She always welcomed them home and found the most joy in every day that she was surrounded by loved ones. She wore the title "Mom" and "Grandma" with the utmost pride.
At her request, a private burial service will take place at Memorial Gardens Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Joan B. Rifenbark can be made to Hospice of Michigan, 10850 E. Traverse Hwy., Suite 1155, Traverse City, MI 49684.
The family is being cared for and served by the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home and Cremation Services.
Published on January 6, 2019
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