Robert John Van Drimmelen, Jr., 87, died suddenly Monday, Sept. 3, 2018, in his apartment at Park Centre in Newton. Bob was the youngest of three children born to Robert, Sr. and Hazel (Sloane) Van Drimmelen, Jan. 17, 1931. From the beginning he was his father’s shadow, loving outdoor life on the farm and cars. He learned love of the arts and compassion for all from his mother. He graduated from Newton Senior High, class of 1949. There he met and came to love Beverly Jo Jack. They married after her graduation Sept. 12, 1951. The birth of three children followed, Deborah, Lisa and Ted.
Bob was employed as a millwright by the Maytag Company which recognized his mechanical gifts and so trained him as an industrial engineer. He completed a business management certification from Drake University in 1964, and retired from Maytag in 1994. His love of mechanics included a love of cars from his Model T Roadster to his TR3 to his 1965 Corvair Corsa. He paid for his children’s educations by repairing and selling Corvairs. Bob was a man of many interests. For a time he owned Van List Miniature Golf. He directed Brigadoon, Never Too Late, Catch Me if You Can and Fiddler on the Roof for the Newton Community Theatre. After appearing in The Odd Couple, he and fellow cast members continued their poker club for decades. He was an active member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, taught first aid for the Red Cross, timed races at Greenwood Roadway and patiently carried out his wife’s many decorating schemes.
After retirement he was employed by Farver True Value Hardware to wander the aisles on Saturday and help customers find solutions for problems. A life-long and active member of the Congregational UCC in Newton, Bob became involved in mission work with the church’s sister church, Elkhorn UCC, Little Eagle, S.D., on Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Reservation. In addition to his annual work on that church, he formed lasting relationships with members of the community becoming a hunka (socially adopted) brother to the Reverend Norman Bluecoat and father to the Bobtail Bear children after their father’s death. They remember him for his ability to make others laugh. This year, 10 years after Beverly’s death, he and his Cairn terrier, Shawna, moved to Park Centre. Bob never knew a stranger and is remembered for his kindness to others. Shawna will remain at Park Centre as a facility dog.
Robert was preceded in death by his parents; daughter, Lisa; and wife, Beverly. He is survived by his sister, Blanche McKee; brother, James Van Drimmelen; son, Ted; and daughter, Deborah (Wooldridge). Among his greatest joys were his six grandchildren, Alicia, Ross, Reid, Colin, Yolanda, Peter and Brice. Together they gave him nine great-grandchildren.
Ted and Deborah invite you to join them for visitation from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday evening, Sept. 13 or at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 14 for a funeral service, committal and luncheon, all at the Congregational UCC, 308 E. Second St. N. in Newton, led by the Rev. Jessica Petersen. Memorials may be directed to Newton Congregational UCC or to Red Cloud Lakota School, Pine Ridge, S.D.
Online condolences may be left for the family at pencefh.com.