Henry Vande Voort, of Pella, passed away on Monday morning, Apr. 14, 2014, at Pella Regional Health Center, two days following his 89th birthday. Funeral services were held Apr. 18, at Peoria Christian Reformed Church with interment at Peoria Cemetery. Memorial gifts in his memory can be designated for Peoria Christian School or Pella Christian High School.
Henry John Vande Voort was the first of two sons born to William H. and Grace Schimmel Vande Voort. He was born on Apr. 12, 1925, near Leighton. Henry attended the Black Oak No. 6 Country Grade School, after which he helped his father on the farm. When he started school, he did not know English, as his parents spoke Dutch at home. On Nov. 27, 1944, he and Gertrude Bandstra, a daughter of Peter and Anna Stursma Bandstra, were united in marriage in the parsonage of the Second Christian Reformed Church in Pella. Hank and Gert, as they were known, were blessed with four children. From January 1945 until April 1946, Hank served in the United States Navy in the Pacific Theater as a fireman first class on the heavy cruiser USS Chester. At the conclusion of World War II, Henry and his brother-in-law Gilbert Bandstra took classes through a GI program two nights a week in Knoxville in exchange for $100/month. They and their then small daughter, Linda, lived on that GI stipend along with a very modest income from a few cows and chickens on their rented farm. In 1950, Hank and Richard Steenhoek grew 50 acres of tomatoes, hiring five boys from Pella to hoe them. That particular year, they experienced God’s special blessing because it was the best crop the canning factory ever had. The income from those tomatoes, along with being very frugal, put them on their feet and laid the groundwork for a long and rewarding career in farming.
In 1952, they moved to a rented farm near Peoria, which they bought on auction in 1954. Hank continued farming in that location with his son and sons-in-law until he semi-retired in 1989. He and Gertrude then moved to 701 E. Independence Street in Pella and their son, Doug, and his family moved onto the family farm. In November 2013, they moved into Vriendschap Village. Until recently, Hank continued to drive out to the farm in his clean and shiny pickup almost every weekday to help “the boys.” Although his formal education ended after the eighth grade, Henry was well-read and enjoyed keeping up with current events, both local and worldwide, through newspapers, magazines, and more recently his computer.
He was baptized as an infant at the Leighton Christian Reformed Church and made profession of his faith at the Second Christian Reformed Church in Pella in 1944. He was a faithful member of the Peoria Christian Reformed Church since 1952. The church and local Christian schools were very important to Henry, and he served them in various leadership roles through the years. He also served on the boards of Dordt College and the Hospice of Pella Comfort House and volunteered at the windmill information booth for the Pella Historical Society.
He leaves to cherish his memory his wife of 69 years, Gertrude; his four children: Linda (Larry) Vander Molen of Pella, Janice (John) Vander Linden of Kenmore, WA; Debra (Robert) Bruxvoort of New Sharon, and Douglas (Barbara) Vande Voort of New Sharon; 10 grandchildren; and 24 great-grandchildren. Of his original family, Henry leaves his sister-in-law, Leona Vande Voort of Leighton.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Gary Vande Voort; his parents-in-law, Peter and Anna Bandstra; and the following brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law: Paul P. and Bertha Bandstra, William and Dirkie Bandstra, Raymond and Grace Bandstra, Tena and John Westerkamp, and Gilbert and Joyce Bandstra.
Henry will be remembered as a patient, kind, and wise man who loved the Lord, his family, and the land.