Private funeral services for Irvin Vander Leest, 78, of Sully, were held at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 11, at Sully First Reformed Church, as well as livestreamed. At noon, there was a procession around the Sully square for the public to join the family going to the cemetery where people stayed in their cars or stayed socially distant out of respect to the family. Due to the current health situation, there was not a public visitation. The family welcomes socially-distant visits in the coming weeks.
Irvin Lester Vander Leest was welcomed into heaven by his son Curt on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. Irvin had returned to his home in Sully on Monday from an extended stay at Newton Village. Born on Feb. 8, 1942, near Fifield (now submerged in Lake Red Rock), Irvin lived near Newberg until his parents bought a farm south of Sully in 1947. He married Lois Arlene Jansen on June 6, 1961, at Sully First Reformed Church where they were raised and continued to be faithful with their four children and into retirement.
Always hardworking, Irvin trapped gophers as a young boy to earn enough for a bicycle. He sold Earl May seeds to his neighbors and won a Schwinn one year as a top salesman, helping his brother Dwight do the same the following year. Tinkering, creating, and remodeling were always in his blood, from the area’s first set of duals crafted with his dad’s John Deere GP tires on his old Super H to the triples he invested in for custom farming application.
After marriage, Irvin and Lois farmed south of Lynnville and Sully, north of Pella, and settled east of Reasnor for 52 years. They were blessed with four children – Curtis Alan ‘62, Kentin Dean ‘63, Jody Dawn ‘68, and Carol Amber ‘71 – and grateful to live near their parents and extended family in the Sully area. They sold the farm and house in late 2019 and moved to Sully.
Irvin and Lois suffered a tragic loss when Curt died on the family farm in 1970. Stories of Curt and the gracious love shown by family and friends continue to this day.
Starting in the mid-1970s, they remodeled the family home, doing most of the labor and handiwork themselves. Irvin took great pride in the farm, land, and livestock. Summer days were filled with putting up hay, cultivating beans, and taking motorcycle and three-wheeler rides with the family. Fishing trips to Canada in September provided fresh fish for the kids’ fall birthday gatherings. Irvin prized his JD 4320 for state fair tractor pulls and his JD 70 for local rides. Irvin’s greatest fulfillment was living his God-given talent for farming, but his greatest joy was the blessings of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Irvin dealt with many health issues and injuries over the years; however, his attitude remained positive. He was grateful for the time granted by the grace of God and provided by excellent medical care locally and at the Mayo Clinic. He was considered a miracle patient by his Mayo care team, surviving over 10 years longer than expected. Irvin and his family would encourage all to receive a shingles vaccine as he suffered 13 years with nerve pain caused by shingles.
Those celebrating his life and memory are his wife Lois; son Kent and Mary of Prairie City and their children: Brandon and Kelsy with daughter Brielle, Kendra and Kody Longnecker with daughters Anna and Betsy, Koy and fiance Kenzie Cogley; daughter Jody and Jeff Stravers of Sully and their children Kelsie and Cody Johnson with children Trace, Tyler, and Cora, Jacob Stravers and friend Halee and her son Wrangler, Megan and Sam Wendt with daughter Iris, and Bret Stravers; daughter Carol Collins and Dennis Doty of Lohrville and her children Chase Willett and Mallory Willett; brothers: Norman and Deloris, Dwight and Glenda, and Rev. David; in-laws: Janice and Don Cross, Larry and Sharon Van Wyk, Shirley and Don Orthner, and Bryce and Linda Jansen.