Lydia Regina Verherstraeten-Haywood, beloved wife, mother, sister, grandmother, and great grandmother, passed away peacefully with her family by her side April 27,2016.


Lydia was born August 1,1938 in Antwerp Belgium, the second of four children to the union of Johannes and Josephine Verherstraeten-Bats.


She was raised and educated in Antwerp where she earned her first teaching credential.


Lydia was preceded in death by her parents, Johannes, a college professor, and Josephine, a homemaker.


She is survived by her loving husband of 56 years, Jerry Haywood, four children; Michael (Sherry), Theresa, Kathleen, and Marc (Kelly), who together have given 11 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. Other survivors include her siblings in Belgium, her sister Hilda and brothers Hugo (Rita) and Marc (Chantal). Lydia was also the aunt to numerous nieces and nephews residing in both the U.S. as well as Belgium. She will be sorely missed by her beloved family.


In her twentieth year, she was traveling through France with a female friend, where at the insistence of the friend, stopped at an American Airbase so her friend could visit her boyfriend. Lydia met and soon married her husband Jerry, who was focused on an Air Force career. They were married in the French city of Laon.


Settling in Atwater, after an Air Force wife of 20 years, she learned her Belgian education was not acceptable for teaching in the States so she rolled up her sleeves and started over, earning her degree from Stanislaus State with honors. With credential in hand, she was soon employed by the Merced City School District, where she taught for over 20 years, retiring in 2003. Teaching was her life’s focus and she insisted that her students learn. Many have gone on to college graduation and teaching careers of their own.


Lydia leaves so many friends, two former golfing partners, a group known as the Monday Lunch Bunch and another group as the Friday Card Players.


She was also a world-traveler and visited every place but two on her bucket list. She and her husband loved cruising on the Princess Lines where they saw much of the world from a ship. They were also annual visitors to the islands of Aloha for over 26 years.


The family is extremely grateful to Hinds Hospice and their outstanding professionals, especially the nursing staff. They would also like to thank Dr. Schuller and Dr. Taggart of the Atwater Medical Group as well as Dr. Sidhu and his staff at the UC Davis Cancer Center. A private memorial service will be held at a date to be determined.