Cover photo for Gerard J. Vandewalle's Obituary
Gerard J. Vandewalle Profile Photo

Gerard J. Vandewalle

Gerard passed away Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at Alamo Nursing Home.

He was born September 29, 1922 in Denterghem, Belgium the son of Leo and Euphenia (VandeWiele) VandeWalle. Gerard proudly served his country in the US Army in the tank corp. in Europe during WWII. For many years he had been a carpenter for several local construction companies. Gerard was a member of the Michigan Carpenters Union Local 525.

On March 5, 1947 in Kalamazoo he married Eileen Kellogg who passed away in 2011. For 64 wonderful years they enjoyed traveling all over the world by freighter. They also liked spending winters in Daytona Beach where they had made many friends.

Surviving are his children, David (Mary Jo) VandeWalle of TX, Ron (Kathy) VandeWalle of Kalamazoo and Sue (Tim) Walley of Otsego; 5 grandchildren, Jennifer VandeWalle, Rebecca VandeWalle, Keith Walley, Samantha Walley and Jessica Fitzgerald; 2 step-grandchildren, Jay Pemberton and Brittany Copen; 4 great-grandchildren, siblings, Irene Bianco and Gabe VandeWalle; many nieces and nephews and his beloved companion dog, Sochi.

He was preceded in death by his parents, wife and son, Steven VandeWalle.

According to his wishes cremation has taken place.

Burial of ashes will take place at Fort Custer National Cemetery in the summer.

Contributions in memory of Gerard may be made to the

Alzheimer’s Association


Messages of condolence may be posted at

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Condolence Messages

Mary and Keith Stewart

March 4, 2018 at 10:59 am

Dear Sue and family,

I have been thinking of your Dad lately and wondering how he was and where he was living. I used to see you out and about occasionally so I could ask you. I loved your Mom and Dad. Your Dad was such a caring person and took such good care of your Mom. I looked forward to seeing them come to our house to get Mom’s hair cut…many good years. I know how hard it is to lose one’s parents, been there. It leaves a empty space in your heart, that time has a way of easing the pain. I hope to see you or Tim out somewhere some time. Hugs and Love for the VandeWalle family.


Steve and Patty Jessop

March 4, 2018 at 1:17 pm

Kathy and Ron, we were so sorry to hear the sad end of your trip. We hope your memories are happy ones when you come the Isla in the future and mark anniversaries of Gerards passing. His life looks like it was a rich one and his smile was joyful. Take care until we see you again – maybe to go cruising. Steve and Patty


Jenise Dahlin and Frank Schmitt

March 4, 2018 at 5:09 pm

David and Mary Jo,

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and yours as you go through this difficult time. Cherish the beautiful memories; may they bring many smiles in the coming weeks and may they provide comfort to all of you. Know he is in a better place and his mind and body can rest…and he is with your Mom. All our love…Jenise and Frank


Theresa Thompson

March 4, 2018 at 10:50 pm

Ron and Kathy, I’m so sorry for your loss. Sending you both love and hugs.

Rest in Paradise Gerard.


Tom and Kim Weber

March 5, 2018 at 10:50 am

Dear David and Mary Jo,

We are so sorry to hear of David’s Dad’s passing. We hope that he was at peace. We hope that David will find comfort in the future.

We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.


Jeanne & Mark Magin

March 5, 2018 at 1:45 pm

Dear Ron and Kathy,

We were so sad to hear of Gerard’s passing and are thinking of you both and your family. It was such a pleasure to meet your Dad, Ron. What a great guy! Kathy, I am still so touched by all the love and support you and Ron gave to Gerard in his final years. Thoughts of peace and prayers to you both – Jeanne & Mark.


Susan Schoenleber

March 5, 2018 at 11:34 pm

Getatd and family

We are all

Just a little better after sharing a beer with sweet Gerard. He is missed. I am thankful he was able to live with Ron and Kathy in a safe loving home for the past several years. He was rarely alone. His loved his sweet dog Sishi, she will be lost without theirs naps together.

Cheers Gerard and Ilene miss both of your adventures souls.

Love you

Steven and Suz and family


Susan Schoenleber

March 5, 2018 at 11:35 pm

Gerard and family

We are all

Just a little better after sharing a beer with sweet Gerard. He is missed. I am thankful he was able to live with Ron and Kathy in a safe loving home for the past several years. He was rarely alone. His loved his sweet dog Sishi, she will be lost without theirs naps together.

Cheers Gerard and Ilene miss both of your adventures souls.

Love you

Steven and Suz and family



March 6, 2018 at 10:49 am

Enjoyed the visits we got to have with Gerard. He will be missed. There’s peace in knowing what a wonderful life he had, and the great care and love he had to the end. Kris and carl


Zolton Cohen

March 6, 2018 at 4:57 pm

I worked with Gerard in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s, first as a laborer and then as a carpenter, for DS Morse Builders. It is no exaggeration to say that he taught me everything I ever learned about being a carpenter, for he was the ultimate professional and a true craftsman in that line of work. Everyone on the jobsite, from other carpenters to electricians to plumbers all deferred to his judgement because he had seen, and done, it all.

Perhaps more importantly though, he taught me how to work and to be a man. He would show up every morning ready to go, early, with sharp tools and a lunch packed – and with a smile on his face. It was clear that he was happy to be where he was, in the thick of the bustle of the jobsite, and creating something beautiful for a client. By his actions and his demeanor I learned to take the job seriously, and to give my best every day. He exemplified that.

During lunch, Gerard would occasionally tell us about his time in the tank corps, revealing not an affection for war but for the toll on the humanity and dignity it takes on all its participants. Those were sobering lessons; it was easy to see how the mobilization had affected him, as it did my dad and the so many millions of other people involved. Through Gerard, I came to understand a bit of what my own father had endured during his service, and it created a closer connection between us.

I’m wondering if Gerard ever told his family about some of the things he went through working as a carpenter. One of my favorite stories of his involved unloading some Southern Yellow Pine joist stock from the back of a truck. Gerard said the guy on the truck was throwing the joists down as fast as he could, and he was reaching up for the joists as fast as he could too, not really looking very closely at what he was doing because of the haste. That type of pine is a very splintery wood, and when he reached up for one joist he caught a splinter near the back of his wrist. It drove itself all the way through the length of his arm and came out by his elbow. He was taken to the doctor, and the doctor poured alcohol or some other liquid disinfectant into the wound by his elbow and they both watched it drain out the hole in his elbow.

Gerard said he was back at work the next day, because in those days you didn’t take a job for granted, and if you missed a day there were plenty of other guys willing to take your spot. You hear something like that and you learn to better appreciate your position in life, and I sure did under his influence.

I’ll always remember, too, the deference and regard he showed to Eileen. Once, when we had just finished a project and the owners had invited the work crew to a party to celebrate, I saw Gerard put his arm around Eileen and say, “Let me just show you this special thing over here.” She looked at him and smiled, and at that moment it was the just two of them in the room – in the world – and it was clear how much he loved to make her feel special.

I could go on at some length about how much I learned from Gerard. His impact on me was, and continues to be, profound and lasting. It pleases me to learn that he had a good, long life. He, more than most of us, deserved it.

Zolton Cohen


Phil Anglin

March 6, 2018 at 8:32 pm

It was an honor and privilege to know both Gerard and Eileen. They would come into Rhino’s for a beer and the place would just liven up. They were the epitome of kindness and grace, and I truly do feel blessed having known them.

Please accept my condolences for your loss, and take comfort that Gerard and Eileen are together again.

“When you are sorrowful – look again into your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”


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