“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose,” Romans 8:28.
These words from Scripture summarize the walk with God that Bob experienced as he opened the door of his heart to his Lord in his life here on earth on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023, at the age of 85 years.
Funeral service was at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 19, at Calvary Christian Reformed Church, Pella.
Memorial contributions may be designated for video ministry at Calvary Church or the activity fund at Noord Holland-Wesley Life-The Cottages in Pella.
Robert James Van Houwelingen (aka Bob) was born Dec. 5, 1937, to Ina (Visscher) and John Henry Van Houwelingen in their farmhouse near Eddyville. Bob started school in first grade at the Hopewell Country School in the Hedrick area. He loved the close relationships he had with the teacher and students in that school setting. Bob missed most of his eighth-grade year due to a severe bout of hepatitis. The family moved to Pella in 1948. During his high school years, Bob worked with his uncle, Walt Visscher, on building houses and honed his skills as a builder – thus the name “Bob the Builder.” Bob was active in the Future Farmers of America at Pella Community High School and graduated with the Class of 1955. He faithfully wore his class ring and thoroughly enjoyed his class reunions with classmates.
Bob met a wonderful young lady, Arlene Joann Bruxvoort, from Sully, and knew she was the gal for him. They were married at Sully Christian Reformed Church Aug. 14, 1958. To this union, three children were born: David Lee, Dennis James, and Denise Lynn.
Bob enlisted in the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Riley, KS, before his 2½ year assignment to Baumholder, Germany, where he lived and had adventures with Arlene. He made some close friendships with three other recruits from the Midwest, whom he affectionately referred to as “the Army Buddies” over the years. Bob experienced numerous reunions in several Midwest destinations with these close friends and their spouses. Following his honorable discharge from the Army, Bob and Arlene moved back to the Pella area and settled on an acreage south of Pella. After working for several local carpenters, Bob went into partnership with Henry Langstraat and established Pella Builders. Years later, he worked with his brother Bill and several other carpenters.
Tragedy struck in Bob’s life when his dear wife Arlene lost her four-year battle with cancer on July 14, 1980, at the age of 41 years. This left a big hole in Bob’s heart and a family without a wife and mother. In 1983, Bob and Lois Neerhof, a local school teacher at Pella Christian Grade School, were united in marriage.
Being a lover of the outdoors, Bob devoted several of his retirement years building a “recycled” cabin in a forested area south of Pella where he spent many hours enjoying God’s creation. An avid hunter, Bob went on numerous hunting excursions in Iowa, Wyoming, and Colorado. He also enjoyed trips to Colorado, Oregon, the Black Hills, Yellowstone, Glacier, Michigan, Alaska, and the Northeast United States. He was a member of First Reformed Church where he had served with the building and grounds committee and was a member of the Calvary Christian Reformed Church serving as a deacon and an elder.
Bob leaves the following cherished family members: His wife Lois Van Houwelingen; his children David (Brenda) Van Houwelingen of Parker, CO, Dennis (Maya) Van Houwelingen of Katy, TX, and Denise (Scott) Hansen of Toronto, Ontario, Canada; his grandchildren Shelby (Brian) Shepard of Parker, CO, Jessica (Nathan) Blacka of Englewood, CO, Dallas Van Houwelingen of Atlanta, GA, Molly Van Houwelingen of Katy, TX, and Kaira Allo of Katy, TX; and his great- grandchild Isaac Thomas Shepard of Parker, CO. He leaves his sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law: Judy (Bill) Van Houwelingen, Betty and Geoff Horvath, Nancine (Henry) Bruxvoort, Roger and Marlene Bruxvoort, Marilyn and Bruce Bandstra, Linda and Wade Dawley, Karl and Cherie Neerhof, Paul and Bev Neerhof, Dr. Mark and Betty Neerhof, and their families.
Bob was preceded in death by his wife Arlene, his parents, his brother Bill Van Houwelingen, his parents-in-law Clarence and Minerva (Jansen) Bruxvoort and Lincoln and Jeanette (Neerhof) Davies, his brother-in-law Henry Bruxvoort, and nephew Chip Ybema.