Sheila Elizabeth “Lizzie” Rynbrandt

Sheila Elizabeth Rynbrandt was a devoted wife, tender-hearted mother, fun-loving grammie, and fierce friend. She left this world peacefully in the loving presence of her husband, son, and daughter on January 14, 2023 at the age of 78.

Sheila was born July 22, 1944, in Lansing, Michigan, to James and Agnes (Hertel) VanVoorhis. After graduating from high school, Sheila began a 10-year long career as an executive secretary for the State of Michigan, where she met her husband, James Rynbrandt. They were married in 1969 and went on to have two children: Matthew and Abigail.

Beginning in 1970, Sheila was an active member of South Church. From the get-go, her introduction to Jesus ignited such a passionate faith, that it changed the way she saw the world around her. Sheila was a prayer warrior, seeking God during her morning walks in the brisk air remembering the many people for whom she had promised to pray. She spent time pouring over her Bible until the pages were torn and her markings prevalent. Opening her home, she hosted and facilitated Bible studies, encouraging other women in their walks with God. As a lifetime deaconess, she faithfully visited and prayed with those who were homebound or living in nursing homes. She served on the women’s ministry team, using her phenomenal administration skills to help coordinate retreats and other events.

In 1973, Sheila had her first baby followed a few years later by her second.  At that point, she decided to stop her work as a secretary and devote her life to raising her children. From the first years of changing diapers, feeding and cuddling to the academic years, Sheila was intimately involved in her children’s lives. During their elementary years, she consistently volunteered in their classes, even taking on the role of the “art lady” who came in to lead crafts. Sheila didn’t miss a day of waving at her children as the bus drove by—much to the dismay of her pre-teen son.  As her children grew, she was at every sporting event as their number one fan. Her home was always open to her children’s friends.

In 2005, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Immediately, her mind went to others. After experiencing the fears and hardships of cancer, she desired to provide a safe place for women who have been diagnosed with cancer. And so the cancer support group, I Will Survive and Thrive, was born at South Church. For the past 18 years, this group has walked together, encouraging one another on their cancer journeys, with Sheila’s tender heart at the center of it.

In the following years, after her treatment, Sheila was promoted to the position of Grammie. She was her grandchildren’s number one cheerleader. Her fun spirit led to elegant tea parties with her epic tea cup collection, shopping sprees, dance parties, sleepovers, crafts, game nights, My Little Pony adventures in the family room, movies with popcorn and so much more.

Able to find joy in every moment, Sheila’s laughter was contagious. She would relentlessly tease others and enjoyed being on the receiving end of it as well. Many board and card games were played around her dining room table and Sheila could emote and dramatize with the best of them. This joy overflowed into dozens of journals filled with reflections and poetry, much of which was a blessing to those around her.

Sheila’s creativity wasn’t confined to her writing. She loved to quilt by hand, often working on her most recent project in the car as she and her husband took a road trip every year to winter in Florida. As an avid walker and a lover of the beach, Florida’s sandy shores were her heaven on earth.

In 2018, Sheila heard the dreaded words, “stage four metastatic breast cancer.” And yet she refused to let it crush her upbeat spirit. She stepped out in greater determination to enjoy every moment and be a blessing to others. Continuing with her cancer support group and spending time with friends, Sheila maintained her faithfulness in praying for others. Text after text can be found on her phone, inquiring about others’ needs and expressing love and hope in the midst of her own fight with cancer.

Though she fought for four years, her body finally succumbed to the cancer. As the great Abraham Lincoln once said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Sheila Elizabeth’s 78 years were filled with life.

Surviving are:  her husband of 54 years, James Rynbrandt; son, Matthew Rynbrandt; daughter, Abigail (Jeffrey) House; grandchildren, Donovan, Claire, Savannah, Paige and Declan; and her sister, Sharon (Terry) Graham.

The funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday, January 20, 2023, at South Church, 5250 Cornerstone Dr., Lansing.  Her family will receive friends at the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Thursday, as well as one hour prior to the funeral service at the church on Friday.

A livestream of Sheila’s funeral service will be held on the church’s website:

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Women’s Ministry at South Church in memory of Sheila Rynbrandt.  Online condolences may be left for her family at

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38 Messages to “Sheila Elizabeth “Lizzie” Rynbrandt

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Karen Barkel-Rynbrandt
January 16, 2023 at 7:55 pm

I will miss my Aunt Sheila’s phone calls and texts. She was a very special lady, always having an extra word of Encouragement. Her long fight is now over, no more pain. My thoughts are with Jim, Matthew, and Abigail and Grandchildren, Relatives, and Friends as they lay Sheila’s physical body to rest, her spirit will live on through everyone who knew her and all the people she helped along life’s path. May God Give you peace as you travel through the next several days.

Abbey House
January 17, 2023 at 8:16 pm

Such beautiful sentiments…thank you very much, Karen. This means so much to my father, brother and I. God bless you.

January 17, 2023 at 9:20 pm

She was an Aunt, Friend, and a source of strength through the years to me. I will truly miss her. She was a Diamond in the rough during her life, now flawless with the sparkle of the Sun.

Andrew S. McCullough
January 17, 2023 at 10:11 pm

I always had the feeling I needed to take time out of the normal chaos of working life and invite myself to accompany Matthew home one afternoon to meet his parents. I have heard much, and the well written remembrance above certainly confirms my thoughts.

My thoughts and heart go out to my most excellent friend, Matthew, and to all of you Rynbrandt / VanVoorhis families and their friends who must traverse this path at this time.

Long live Sheila “Lizzie” in her deeds, and forever in her infinitive love.

Peace –

Matthew Rynbrandt
January 21, 2023 at 10:42 pm

Andrew, my old friend. Thank you very much. It was an honor to write/speak about our wonderful Mother. Have always appreciated your friendship. Much love to you.

Lu Ann Goodman
January 18, 2023 at 7:08 am

Sheila left a true legacy of faith, obedience, and trust. She invited God into her life through prayer, and prioritized her life in obedience and trust. So thankful for her. Praying for Jim, Matt, and Abbey & Jeff and the grandchildren.

Abbey House
January 21, 2023 at 10:03 pm

Thank you so much, LuAnn. We were so thankful to see you at the visitation. Unfortunately you are all too familiar with loss. My mother always loved you and thought well of you. She felt blessed to be a part of your life as you grew. God bless you.

Diane jean Warren
January 18, 2023 at 7:40 am

Jim, Matt and Abbey, I am very sorry for your loss but I hope knowing that she is pain free and in a better place will bring you comfort and peace. I admired her morning walks through the subdivision which she did religiously. May your cherished memories get you through the days ahead.

Abbey House
January 21, 2023 at 10:04 pm

Thank you so much, Diane. She sure did love walking all those years! It was so hard for her when she could not longer do it. I imagine her walking all over heaven now and it makes me smile. God bless you!

Tom Taliaferro
January 18, 2023 at 8:19 am

I remember Sheila as a very good person & wife. Her obituary is very reflective of her
life mission. Condolences to Jim & his family. Tom Taliaferro

James Rynbrandt
January 21, 2023 at 10:06 pm

Tom, Thank you for coming to the visitation. It was so good to see you. I really hope that we can reconnect soon. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

Sara Fowler
January 18, 2023 at 8:33 am

Abbey, Matthew, Jim and all of your loved ones,
This loss is so profound. Sheila was an absolute ray of light! In our younger years from kindergarten on she doted on all of us kids. I’m so lucky that she told Abbey to find a kid that was crying and make friends with them! Me being the crying kid and Abbey being a ray of light like her sweet mom. Later I loved running into her at random places (usually shopping!) and talking to her like it hadn’t been years since the last time. She always called my kids angels when I’m pretty sure she was the angel.
My love and prayers are with you all now and in the weeks, months, years ahead.

Abbey House
January 21, 2023 at 9:51 pm

Sara, What beautiful words about my mother! I’m so glad you remember her like that. She definitely was a ray of light, always smiling, always hopeful. She sure loved you. She continued to think of you and talk about you even as the years went by.

Thank you for your prayers, love and remembering her with a gorgeous bouquet. We feel very blessed.

Jackie Bass
January 18, 2023 at 9:06 am

How blessed I am to have counted Sheila as my friend! She is one who enters your life and leaves joy and God’s love each day. I was one of the fortunate women at South who attended Bible study in Sheila and Jim’s house. It was an answer to prayer when I retired. A “light” has left us – yet, what a wonderful homecoming for Sheila in heaven. I am thanking the Lord that I knew and loved her! Hugs to Jim, Matthew, Abby and family!

Abbey House
January 21, 2023 at 10:10 pm

Jackie, What wonderful words! I’m so glad you were able to study God’s word in our home. My dad remembers you well. My mother truly was a light. She brought joy to all of those around her. Thank you so much for your prayers!

Linda Brzak
January 18, 2023 at 9:44 am

Sheila was a wonderful neighbor. When I came down with breast cancer, she was right there. Stopping at my house when she was on her daily walks to encourage me and even gave me gifts. What a great example she was of what it means to be a child of God. She will be missed but we know we will see her again.

Abbey House
January 21, 2023 at 9:54 pm

Linda, I’m so glad she was an encouragement to you during your battle with cancer. It made her feel so happy to support other people. Thank you for your kind words about her and for taking time to attend the visitation. She truly did shine as a child of God!

Toni and Tom Kissane
January 18, 2023 at 10:59 am

Jim, Matt, and Abbey, we are so very sorry for your loss. I formerly worked with Jim for many years and I know how much Sheila meant to your entire family. Prayers to you.

James Rynbrandt
January 21, 2023 at 10:15 pm

Toni and Tom, Thank you for remembering us. I have fond memories of working with Toni at the State and with Tom at Spartan Toyota. You are right, Sheila meant so much to us and will be missed. Thank you for your prayers.

Terri (Zipple) Hecksel
January 18, 2023 at 11:45 am

I used to babysit for the Rynbrandts when Matthew was a baby and I lived on Halloway Lane. I remember Sheila as a sweet, beautiful soul. My condolences to Jim and family. She sings with the angels now and will always be with you in your hearts, your memories and watching over you from her heavenly home.

Abbey House
January 21, 2023 at 10:18 pm

Hi Terri, thank you for reaching out. How wonderful that you have such sweet memories of my Mom! She truly was a gem. If she were still here, I could probably ask her about you and she’d remember you. She’s always had such a great memory. God bless you.

Tonya Wieland
January 19, 2023 at 11:34 am

I am so grateful that God brought Sheila into my life and the life of my family . I met Sheila at South Baptist church women’s Bible study Tapestry as a young mother . I so admired her love of Christ and others and she graciously agreed to mentor me in the faith . Meeting and learning from Lizzie during the years has been one of the greatest blessings of my life . It has been a joy and privilege to worship , study God’s word , pray , attend conferences , and share the joys and trials of life together as sisters in Christ and kindred spirits.,How wonderful it has been to pray for each other’s families, for opportunities to share Christ and to talk about the joys of heaven which are hers with her Good Shepherd.
Our family’s deepest sympathy to you ,Jim, Mathew and Abbey and grandchildren – how she loved you so .
“ Death is swallowed up in victory !”

Abbey House
January 21, 2023 at 9:57 pm

Tonya, you were always special to her, her kindred spirit. She felt such a connection with you. Your faithfulness to your friendship with her, even across the miles, was a testament to how God brought you together.

I remember when she first met you. She thought you were the most beautiful woman she knew, not just your face but your tender heart.

Thank you for loving my sweet mama!

Lynda Inman
January 19, 2023 at 11:52 am

I was fortunate enough to have Sheila as a coBible study teacher at South. What an inspiration and delight she was! She will be long missed but her love for God’s word has left a lasting impression on me, and I will faithfully follow her lead on this. Thank you dear Sheila. May we all serve Jesus with the zest she had.

Abbey House
January 21, 2023 at 10:20 pm

Lynda, she definitely loved God’s word! Thank you for sharing the impact she had in your life. She has touched so many and I’m proud to call her my mother. God bless you.

Sandy Otto
January 20, 2023 at 9:44 am

I only knew Shelia from Florida’s Snowbird Craft Day. First time meeting her, I knew she was a Child of God. Her love & joy pored out of her. She took you in, wanting you to know how special you are. Today is a celebration of life for a beautiful, kind & faithful follower of Jesus. Prayers for her family.

Abbey House
January 21, 2023 at 10:22 pm

Sandy, what beautiful words! She sure did love doing crafts down in Florida and spending time with all of you. Thank you for praying for us and remembering her with such love. God bless you.

Karen Barkel-Rynbrandt
January 20, 2023 at 12:25 pm

Thanks so much for the Livestream as I have to isolate due to health reasons. Beautiful service! Great job Matthew and Abigail about giving all the stories of your Mom’s life! A special family with a very special Mom! God Bless.

Abbey House
January 21, 2023 at 10:00 pm

Thanks for watching! I believe my mom was filled with joy as we recounted the beauty of her life. Thank you for your prayers and love for her. She had your soft and colorful blanket right there with her when she passed away. I’ve been snuggling with it every night since. God bless you.

Karen Rynbrandt
January 23, 2023 at 1:22 am

You keep that Blanket close to you! It will be a continuing source of comfort to you. Take the Welcome sign home I made for your Mom to. It was a labor of love.

Norma Britt
January 20, 2023 at 3:55 pm

Dear Jim, Matt, Abigail, and family, Friday: 3:50 PM
I just attended .Sheila’s wonderful service by streaming!
Sheila came to my home Bible Study in the early 70’s when we both were new at South.. Baptist. Church. She always greeted each one with a hug, then and ever after…. I miss her and her hugs!! She is worthy of the praise she has received from our Lord.

Abbey House
January 21, 2023 at 10:27 pm

Norma, I’m so glad you were able to tune in. It was such a blur during that last week and when she passed away, I completely forgot to call you. I’m thankful that word got around to you. She had many fond memories of you, all the times that our families spent time together. Thank you for your love for my mom!

Darla Swan
January 21, 2023 at 4:18 pm

Blessing to all. I remember. all oFyou. With great love and prayers.
our son passed The lunches with her at the house.
GOD RICHELY BLESS YOU MY BELOVED. Excuse my typing I am loosing my eye sight. Age 81. And counting the days when we meet again.Hete or heaven. SHALOM

Abbey House
January 21, 2023 at 10:28 pm

Darla, we all remember you well! You were a treasured friend of my mother’s and she was thankful know you. Thank you for remembering her and praying for us. It means the world. God bless you.

Karen (Lyon) Eddie
January 23, 2023 at 7:29 am

When I saw the notice of Sheila’s passing, I was transported back in time over 50 years. I worked with Sheila at the State of Michigan not too long before she was married. While we were not close, I respected her and admired her and looked up to her so much and I never forgot her. Sheila made such a lasting impression upon me, and these marvelous tributes to her memory are wonderful to read. Such an amazing, beautiful soul. Please accept my condolences for your loss, and I know she is still with you.

Abbey House
February 2, 2023 at 10:14 am

Hello Karen,

I am so glad that you reached out. Thank you for caring enough to reflect on my mom’s life. She was such a treasure. God bless you!


Makeba Miller Whorton
February 25, 2023 at 9:18 pm

Ms Sheila was one of my favorite patients. Her love for God and her bright smile always would make my day. I was so sad to hear of her passing. She will be remembered and missed. Rest peacefully. Until we meet again.

Abbey House
March 10, 2023 at 11:12 am

Thank you so much for remembering our beautiful mama. She loved you very much and was very thankful for the encouragement and help that she always felt from your group. You were a blessing to her!


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