Dr. Neil Van Der Kolk
Oct. 30, 1937-Dec. 17, 2011
HOBART — Dr. Neil Van Der Kolk, known as Dr. V., passed away Dec. 17, 2011, following a long battle with asbestosis. Neil was a devoted Christian, husband, father, educator, and friend. He was a man of compassion, generosity and integrity. He began his journey in Gary, Oct. 30, 1937, as the son of Clarence and Marion Van Der Kolk.
After several moves, the family settled in Plymouth. Neil graduated from Plymouth High School as “the Outstanding Senior Boy.” That was the beginning of many awards and honors in his lifetime. There were two that he treasured most. The first was to be named “Principal of the Year” in 1986, an honor given by the Indiana State PTA. The second was to be selected as a Sagamore of the Wabash, a designation awarded sparingly by Governor O’Bannon for outstanding service to others. Neil had followed in the footsteps of his father who was also an educator. He earned four degrees from Indiana University, the last being ED.D, doctor of education. Dr. V’s career spanned 40 years in three elementary schools in Hobart: Mundell, Foreman and Joan Martin. Upon his retirement in 1999, Neil received a gift of a miniature Schnauzer from the children of Joan Martin Elementary School. He was named Toesi.
Dr. V had many interests. A friend stated that “He never forgot how to have fun.” He loved to travel and had visited 60 different countries, including Ethiopia, Lebanon, Papua New Guinea, Peru, and Dominican Republic. He enjoyed construction projects, such as working at Echo Ranch Bible Camp near Juneau, Alaska, as well as building his own house after retirement. Mowing his large lawn on his John Deere was a pleasure to him. He was an avid train and aviation fan. A short flight on the Concord at the EAA Fly-in was a highlight. Neil, a former Rotarian, served on the boards of Kids Alive International, West Africa Christian Mission, and Linden House in Hobart. He was a member of Liberty Bible Church.
Neil leaves behind Bonnie, his wife of 47 years, and two sons Douglas and Kent. He is also survived by his sister Nancy Budensiek of Winston-Salem, N.C., six nieces and nephews, and brother-in-law Dale Garard of Rockford, Ill.
A memorial service will be held Friday, Dec. 23, 2011 at 11 a.m. at Liberty Bible Church, 824 N. Calumet Ave., Chesterton, with Pastor Robert Nienhuis officiating. A visitation will be held Thursday from 2 to 8 p.m. at Moeller Funeral Home, 104 Roosevelt Road, Valparaiso. Memorial contributions can be made to: West Africa Christian Mission or Echo Ranch Bible Camp.