Girard A. ‘Jerry’ VanDamme

GLADSTONE – Girard A. “Jerry” VanDamme, 86, of Gladstone, passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, April 13, 2013.

He was born on Oct. 18, 1926, in St. Nicholas, son of Jules and Clara (Vertriest) VanDamme. Jerry attended school in Perkins and attended Michigan State Agricultural School.

On Oct. 15, 1949, he married Dorothy DeBacker in Perkins.

Jerry was a dairy and potato farmer. He was known for his ability to “fix” anything to improve its function. Jerry was affectionately nicknamed “Jerry Rigger” or “Rigger” by his grandchildren. He lived in St. Nicholas until his retirement in the 1980s when he and Dorothy moved to Gladstone. This was when his fly rod was traded for his golf clubs. Jerry was a long-time member of the Terrace Bluff Country Club. He was very proud of the fact that he along with his son and grandson won the “Vegas golf tournament” back to back. Jerry was very happy that he obtained a “hole in one” twice. He served numerous years on the Perkins School Board, The Michigan Potato Council, Baldwin Township supervisor, and the Perkins Lions Club. He enjoyed bowling, fishing, golfing and spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

He is survived by wife, Dorothy; son, Arthur (Paula) of Naples, Fla., son, Robert (Candee) of St. Nicholas; daughter, Carole VanDamme of Charlevoix, Mich., son, Mark (Lisa) of Idaho, and daughter, Theresa (Jamie) Craig of Tucson, Ariz.; brother, Paul of Watson; sister, Marie Schmitt of Washington; nine grandchildren, John of Naples Fla., Casey (Jill) VanDamme of Knoxville, Tenn., Eric (Earlene) VanDamme of Gladstone, Bobbi (Jake) Klee of Wilson, Betsy VanDamme of Manistique, Brandon and Faith of Idaho, Cory and Shannon of Arizona. Jerry had a special place in his heart for his nine great-grandchildren, Madelyn, Claire, Andrew, Bradly, Christian, Benjamin VanDamme, Abbigale Klee, Anthony and Fabian Troutman.

Jerry was preceded in death by his parents; infant sister, Theresa; brothers, Joseph, George, Francis and Valere; and infant daughter, Jane Marie.

Jerry’s family will receive friends on Wednesday from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Skradski Funeral Home in Gladstone. Mass of Christian Burial services to celebrate the life of Girard “Jerry” VanDamme will follow visiting hours at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, at the St. Joseph Church in Perkins with Rev. Fr. Jacek Wtyklo, Rev. Fr. Emmett Norden and Rev. Fr. Gilbert Neurohr officiating.

Luncheon will follow in the St. Joseph Parish Hall. Contributions in Jerry’s name may be directed to the Mid Peninsula Scholarship Fund which will be established by the VanDamme family. Envelopes will be available throughout visiting hours and at the Skradski Family Funeral Homes of Delta County. Messages of condolence to the VanDamme family may be offered online at