Helen Laverna (Van Zee) Smith passed away in her sleep on Sunday, December 11, 2022, at her home in Ankeny. She was born in Prairie City, Iowa, on May 4, 1935, to Bertha (Beyer) and William Martin Van Zee. She grew up and attended school in Monroe until she moved to Pella where she graduated from Pella High School. After graduation she worked at Maytag until she met and was united in marriage to Marvin C. Smith on June 30, 1955, at The First Christian Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa. Together they shared 61 years of marriage until Marvin passed away in February 2017.
They lived and farmed west of Oskaloosa for many years until they moved to Ankeny, Iowa, in 2010 due to health reasons and to be closer to their daughter Marla and her family. Helen enjoyed playing the piano, sewing, baking, traveling and spending time with her family and friends. She won many prizes for her sewing in Make It With Wool contests. She was very active with the National and Iowa Pork Producers where she helped on many committees and promotions. Helen and Marvin were also very involved with the Southern Iowa Fair Board.
In later years she spent much time traveling to Colorado, Florida, Europe, Aruba and Hawaii with her family. Her daughter, grandchildren, family and friends were the light of her life and she always enjoyed their visits and spending time with them. She was always on the go to the very end.
She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Marla (Smith) and Steve Knutson of Naples, Florida; her grandchildren, Ryan (Fiancée Lydia Chronos) Knutson of Ankeny and Matthew Knutson of Ankeny; her step grandchildren, Craig and Julie Knutson, Braelyn Knutson, Alana Knutson and Claire Knutson all of Ankeny; one sister, Joyce (Van Zee) and Ray Vos of Pella; and two sisters-in-law, Ilda Lou Van Zee of Pella and Erma Vander Linden of Cedar Falls. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
Helen was preceded in death by her husband, Marvin C. Smith; her parents; William M. and Bertha (Beyer) Van Zee; her mother and father-in-law, Clifton and Gertrude Smith, a stepmother, Etta (Netten) Jellama-Van Zee; a brother, Leroy Van Zee, a brother-in-law, Herman Vander Linden and a niece, Rebecca (Vander Linden) Dillahunty.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday, December 15, at 11:00 a.m. in the Central Church in Oskaloosa with Pastor Jon Nelson officiation. Burial will follow services in the Forest Cemetery in Oskaloosa. The Bates Funeral Chapel is in charge of arrangements. Visitation will be held on Wednesday, December 14, at the Bates Funeral Chapel with the family present from 5:00 until 7:00 p.m. Wednesday evening to greet relatives and guests. Memorials may be made to On With Life in Ankeny