Don Vander Schel, 93


Donald Mead Vander Schel, 93, of Pella, passed into the presence of Jesus on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024. Visitation will be 3-7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, at Garden Chapel Funeral Home in Pella with the family present 5-7 p.m. Funeral service will be 10:30 a.m., Friday, Feb. 9, at Third Church, Pella, followed by interment at 1:30 p.m. at Waveland Cemetery, Prairie City.

Don was born Nov. 6, 1930, in Prairie City, to George and Esther (Mead) Vander Schel at their home, which was a gas station/house on the Jasper/Polk County Line west of Prairie City, which is now on Highway 163. He attended school in Prairie City through the 10th grade and then started working for his family’s business, Vander Schel Produce.

Don married Gwendolyn Hennings Mar. 30, 1951. He entered the Army in February 1952 during the Korean War and was stationed in Fort Knox, KY. After being discharged in February 1954, they returned to Prairie City where he worked at Vander Schel Produce until 1964.

In 1964, the family moved to Sully where he drove a bulk milk truck for Sully Co-op. In 1972, he started working for Sully Transport driving a gas transport. He retired from there in 1996, but continued to drive part-time for several years. He was proud of his Million Mile Accident-Free Award and would remind us of this when we complained about his driving. In retirement, he also drove part-time for Geetings and Ring-O-Matic.

After 40 years of marriage, Gwen passed away, after a battle with cancer, on Sept. 24, 1991. Jan. 2, 1995, Don married Lois (Brush) Terlouw. They made their home in Pella and enjoyed camping at Lake Red Rock and spending time in the winters in Texas. Lois passed away in 2020 at The Cottages in Pella.

Don was known for his math skills. He could add numbers in his head at great speed and would often be heard doing that. He had songs that he would randomly break out singing at odd times. While living in Prairie City, he knew everyone’s license plate number. He was known in the family for his Sunday night popcorn made in the famous popcorn pan on the top of the stove.

In retirement, Don became involved with woodworking through Bill Bruxvoort classes. He made pens, bowls, coffee tables, and end tables. For the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, he made doll houses, barns, baby cradles, rocking horses, and chairs. He had his regular coffee groups he went to every day. He loved to just drive around. It usually involved a trip out to Lake Red Rock and ice cream.

Even when in The Cottages and he couldn’t drive anymore, he was taken on monthly trips to Sully, Prairie City, including every street in Pella, and usually every car dealership.

Don was raised in Prairie City First Reformed Church. The Bible in his casket is the one the church gave to him when he went into the service.

Don and Gwen with their family attended Sully Community Church while living in Sully. During his years in Pella, he attended Third Church.

Don is survived by his children Maureen Mary (Michael) Morehouse of Winterset, Mark William (Nellie) Vander Schel of Pella, and Timothy George (Lurinda) Vander Schel of Newton; eight grandchildren; and 23 great-grandchildren. Don is also survived by two brothers-in-law and spouses: William (Mary Jo) Hennings of Tinley Park, IL, and Jerry (Linda) Hennings of Waverly as well as Lois’s children and families: Kevin (Kelly) Terlouw of Sully and Riley, Maren (Dave) Scharf of Des Moines and Tanner and Mason (Jessica).

He was preceded in death by his first daughter Debra Ann at birth in December 1951, his wives Gwendolyn and Lois, his parents George and Esther Vander Schel, siblings-in-law JoAnn (Gary) Butler, Mary (Dale) Udelhoven, Barbara (Phil) Brooks, and Kathy Hennings.

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