Victor Gerald DeRuyver, age 73, passed away at home surrounded by his wife and children on Sunday, January 27, 2019. He was born December 14, 1945 in Mishawaka, Indiana.
Victor had the spirit of a frontiersman of old. He loved reading Westerns (his favorite author was Louis L'Amour) and envisioning a land of rugged beauty populated by honorable men whose word was their bond. He lived in eight different states during his life including California, Colorado, and Alaska, where he volunteered for seven years as a trail guard on the Iditarod dog sled race, which runs more than 1000 miles from Anchorage to Nome. While he would have loved to retire in Alaska with a sturdy log cabin and a sleepy stream singing nearby, he settled on “the farm” in Fowlerville to be near his grandchildren.
His first job was as a carry-out at Ernie's Super Market when he was 15 years old. The job was appealing because he could walk to work and because his grandparents, who had immigrated from Belgium, had owned a small mom and pop grocery. Also, as he put it, "I wanted a job so I could save money to buy a car, put a little money in my pocket, and take a girl out on a date!" In fact, it was while working at Ernie’s that Victor met the love of his life and wife of 53 years, Diana Lynn Queen.
Throughout his life, Vic’s frontier spirit also manifested in his career. He was an entrepreneur, owning his own bread distribution company, and he bucked traditional gender roles when he became a hospice nurse – something he was called to do after assisting a nurse who was helping victims at an accident sceneon a remote country road. He was a hospice nurse for almost 20 years before he retired.
Victor was a dedicated husband who treasured his time with his family. Whether he was teaching his children how to fish or catching fireflies with his grandchildren, whether he was taking a grandchild to the library every week or watching a Michigan game (Go Blue!) with the whole family, he always had a twinkle in his eye.Victor took pride in the accomplishments of his children and grandchildren and when presented with a story or picture regarding a new milestone would smile and remark that it “warmed his heart” to hear of it. He loved passing on his knowledge and wisdom. One of Vic’s superpowers, which provided endless hours of entertainment for his grandchildren, was his memory for trivia — earning him the nickname “Cliff” like the character from Cheers. He also loved using this superpower to seed his “Belgian Bull” with enough random facts to convince his grandchildren of the veracity of some of his tall tales.
One of his more famous ruses was trying to convince his grandchildren that he was Santa Claus. He even grew his beard out like Santa! Vic loved Christmas. He loved the trees and the lights and buying ornaments for his family at Bronner’s and in North Pole, Alaska. He loved setting up his Christmas village and singing carols with his family. He loved reading the Night Before Christmas each year to his grandchildren with a resounding,“Ho HoHo, Merry Christmas,” at the close. He spent all year thinking about and hunting down gifts that he thought would delight his grandchildren.
In his free time, heturned that thoughtfulness toward planning amazing trips and vacations for him and his bride. Over the course of their marriage, Vic and Diana visited all 50 states together. The last state they crossed off their list was Hawaii, which they visited to celebrate their 50thwedding anniversary. Although they traveled extensively throughout the United States, his favorite place to visit was Clifty Falls State Park in Indiana near the home they shared for many years in Bloomington.
The love Victor had for his family and wife was only surpassed by his love for Jesus Christ. Isaiah 12:2 states:“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”Victor modeled Christ for his family and friends and shared the good news with those he met.Victor and his wife served as a Marriage Encounter presenting couple for more than a decade, educating couples on how to communicate and having a Christ-Centered marriage.
Victor is survived by his wife Diana; his three children and their spouses Debra DeRuyver and Dan Tobocman of North Potomac, Maryland; Christopher and Robyn DeRuyver of Dexter, Michigan; and Jason and Tammy DeRuyver of Fowlerville, Michigan; his nine grandchildren (in birth order) William, Jasper, Nathaniel, Claire, Everett, Piper, Zachary, Hadley, and Mila; and his two sisters, Maxine and Barbara.
Vic never said goodbye, only “so long,” which was frequently accompanied by the hand signal for “I love you.” He will be dearly missed, but never forgotten.
Online condolences may be expressed at: https://www.pjherrmannfuneralhome.com/notices/Victor-DeRuyver. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Arbor Hospice or Fowlerville UB Church.