Former Broken Bow resident Donald L. Vanderheiden, 77, passed away April 8, 2012 while in the hospital in Inverness, Fla.
Don was born and raised in the Valentine area. After high school he attended Chadron State College where he established and competed as a bull rider on the Chadron State Rodeo Team and competed in Golden Gloves boxing.
Upon graduation from Chadron with his teaching degree, his first job was in Boelus, where he met his eventual wife of 41 years, Donna Jean (Kalkowski). After being married at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Rockville, they transferred around the state with promotional opportunities in teaching and coaching.
His teaching stays included Boelus, Fairfield, and Crawford. He received his masters in education from UNL while he was high school principal in Central City, and took the lead in a building project that produced a new high school.
Following Central City, he became superintendant of Osmond Public Schools and then moved up to Class B when he moved to Falls City. After Falls City, Don, did a one year fellowship at UNL and earned his doctorate of education. His final tenure in the public school system was in the Broken Bow School System as superintendant. In his last few years at Broken Bow, he became interested and began to develop the Nebraska distance learning program through the State of Nebraska and after "retiring" spent a few years assisting the state with further development of the program.
After the loss of Donna in 2000, Don was blessed a second time to have his life joined by Jan Land, formerly of Broken Bow, and Jan remained with him until his death.
Don was an avid fisherman and hunter and loved to play golf. He served many years on The Nebraska One-Box Hunt committee. He was a Fourth Degree Knight in the Knights of Columbus. He had many talents such as fly tying, carpentry, masonry, handyman, and singing.
Dr. Vanderheiden is preceded in death by his wife, Donna; his parents, S.T.(Bill) and Hermina (Massengale) Vanderheiden, as well as a grandson Will Vanderheiden.
He is survived by two brothers, Tom of Vero Beach, Fla, and Jim of Minneapolis, Minn.; his sister, Jan Hewitt of Philip, S.D.; three sons and their wives, Bill and Tina of Chunchula, Ala., Tim and Shannon of North Platte, and Randy and Julie of York; nine grandchildren of his own, Mallory, Allison, Hannah, Hayden, Jamison, Jayden, Sydney, Tyler, and Cole. He is also survived by his wife Jan, and her children who accepted him as their own, George (Bub) and Donna Land and their daughters Kayla and Nicquel and Janna and John Bos with their daughters Hailey and Heather.
Services were Friday, April 13, 2012, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Broken Bow with Father Jim Hunt Officiating. Burial was in the St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery at Rockville. Govier Brothers Mortuary of Broken Bow was in charge of the arrangements.
The family requests donations be made to The Nebraska One Box Foundation Scholarship Program in Don's name. Gifts for the foundation scholarship fun may be mailed c/o Bill Vanderheiden, 14890 Celeste Road, Chunchula, AL 36521.
Published in Custer County Chief, April 19, 2012