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Born Michelle Joy Vander Yacht, on Friday, August 13, 1960, to Hermina and Ronald, she was the middle child of five, growing up in West Olive, MI. Michelle graduated from GVSU with a B.S. in criminal justice before continuing on to become a police officer for GRPD while also training to be a combat medic in the United States Army Reserves and later a horticulturist at Frederik Meijer Gardens for 14 years. She then married her husband Jeff Mucha, with whom she spent 36 years and had two children, Katrina and Ira Mucha.

In her life, Michelle was an artist of many styles ranging from jewelry making to botanical masterpieces, and was a true outdoorswoman at heart with a number of hobbies including being a volunteer lighthouse keeper, avid rockhound, traveler, and was a Mama Bear to her kids, and many others both human, animal, and plant. It is because of all these amazing qualities that she was coined “Empress of the Galaxy”, which she ruled with kindness, humor, and general badassery.

Michelle passed on to new trails on April 7, 2022 and was preceded in death by her parents, siblings Lisa Johnson, Pam Vanderyacht, Ronald Vanderyacht, Diane Meekhof, and Brother-In-Law Donald Meekhof. She leaves behind her husband Jeff Mucha, children Katrina and Ira Mucha, and niece Mariah Svay, Anthony and grandbabies Amiyah, Aria, and Miles.

A casual outdoor memorial will take place at Ridgeview Memorial Gardens Parking Lot at 2pm on Sunday, April 10, 2022. We ask that everyone bring a single flower (though it need not be fancy, it could even be a seedpod or piece of greenery from one’s garden) to go with her. Vaccination and masks are requested. Graveside will be for immediate family only, with a larger celebration of life to be celebrated after the service at a family home.

To send a message of sympathy to the family, sign Michelle’s online guest book, or to share a favorite memory, please visit:

Cremation arrangements are entrusted to Michigan Cremation & Funeral Care, Grand Rapids, (616) 452-3006, honored providers of Veterans Funeral Care.


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1 Condolence

  1. Kenneth Noorman on April 10, 2022 at 12:39 pm

    Jeff and Family ; Thoughts and prayers to you all at this time of loss. Like you said She has passed on to new trails. May you all be filled with love and peace .

    Ken & Carol Noorman

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