Monday, June 12, 2023
10:00 AM EDT
St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church
171 W 13th Street
Holland, MI 49423
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Holland Community Theatre
50 W 9th Street
Holland, MI 49423
Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids
160 Fountain Street NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Life Story / Obituary
Donald Christian VandenHeuvel, age 69, passed away on June 6, 2023 at home in Holland, Michigan surrounded by his loving family and family dog, Zmooch.
Don was born on February 21, 1954 to Donald and Lolabelle (Edson) Vanden Heuvel and grew up in Zeeland. He was the middle of three kids, both of whom fondly thought of him as the “cool” brother. After graduating from Western Michigan University with a degree in Communications, he moved to San Francisco for a few years before returning to Michigan to run Vanden Heuvel Plumbing and Mechanical, a third generation family business, which he led until his retirement in 2012.
But Don’s passion was always the theater. For area theater goers, he was a familiar face known for his skill, physical comedy, and ensemble generosity. He gravitated to madcap comedies because as he said, “life was serious enough.” Don earned many accolades over the years including Grand Rapids Grand Award’s Outstanding Lead Actor for his role in Circle Theatre’s Don't Dress for Dinner. He also served on the boards of Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids and Holland Community Theatre.
Don was a voracious reader, history buff, cinephile, and lover of rock n’ roll. His tastes were wide ranging and his memory encyclopedic with a balanced diet of Bob Wills and Bob Dylan, history books and noir novels, spaghetti westerns and Turner movie classics. Don also had a passion for the outdoors. He knew every trail and ski run in Michigan though the mountains and deserts of the American West held a special place.
But Don’s great love was his wife, Annette. Married in 1991, they were a dynamic duo that successfully blended their two families into something far greater than the sum of its parts. They ballroom danced, loved a good road trip, and were serial remodelers of Don’s grandfather’s lake cottage, which is a welcoming destination for family and friends alike.
As a father of girls and a grandfather of boys, Don brought a grounding and unwavering love. He visited his daughters wherever they lived in the US or abroad, sharing adventures like walking the length of Broadway in New York. He was a huge presence in the lives of his three grandsons – cheering them on at concerts and soccer games, playing in Lake Michigan, and setting up Civil War games as he passed on both boyhood toys and his love of history.
Don was diagnosed with leukemia in 2021. Despite his incredible rigor through many treatments including a stem cell transplant this April, the cancer was more aggressive. The family wishes to express their deep gratitude to their family and friends who wrapped them up in life and love.
Don was preceded in death by his parents, Donald and Lolabelle Vanden Heuvel, and his first wife Mary Ann (Abood). He is survived by his wife of nearly 32 years Annette VandenHeuvel, daughters Rebecca Wyngarden (grandson Jeremy, husband Brian Forde and his daughters Abby and Erica), Emilie (Goodhart) Engelhard (husband Benn, grandsons Theo and Jesse), Eleanor van den Heuvel, and Emily Vandenheuvel, siblings Marylee VandenHeuvel and Tom VandenHeuvel (wife Maribeth) as well as many nieces and nephews, in-laws, cousins, and his Aunt Joan Edson.
A visitation will be held on Sunday, June 11 from 2-5pm with prayers at 4pm at Dykstra Funeral Home - Northwood Chapel ( 295 Douglas Ave, Holland)
A funeral mass will take place on Monday, June 12 at 10am at St. Francis de Sales Church in Holland (171 W. 13th Street, Holland) followed by a procession to the burial at Lakewood Cemetery (Lakewood & 168th Street, Holland) and reception with light appetizers at Sandy Point Beach House (7175 Lake Shore Dr, West Olive).
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Holland Community Theatre and Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids.