Lewis Vander Naald ’68
Reverend Lewis James Vander Naald (Lew) passed away under hospice care in his home on June 12, 2019, just shy of his 74th birthday and what would have been his 39th Father’s Day. After an unforgiving experience with Parkinson’s Disease, his body surrendered quickly and peacefully, thanks to the loving energy of family near and far and graciously attentive hospice workers by his side.
Lew was born on June 15, 1945 in Kalamazoo, Michigan to parents Wilhelmina (Evenhouse) and Bartel Vander Naald. He was one of four children in his family, survived by his older sister Ellen Kilpatrick and his twin sister Nancy Burns. He was preceded in death by his father and his younger brother, Philip Vander Naald. Lew is also survived by his wife of nearly 44 years, Valorie Hilton Vander Naald, his tireless supporter right up until the end. He was also the proud father of his two sons, Brian (Anne) and Kevin (Tracey) Vander Naald.
Lew delighted in being a grandfather of three beautiful boys (Elliott, Colin, Isaac) and another baby to arrive later this year. Lew attended Central High School in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Hope College in Holland, Michigan and later became an ordained Presbyterian minister after serving a term in the United States Air Force and attending McCormick Theological Seminary. During his pastoral tenure, he served six Presbyterian churches across the Midwest from 1978-2011.
Lew’s loves included family, music, nature and people. He explored the Philipines and Germany while in the Air Force and later Russia, France, Italy and a mission trip to Malawi, Africa. Travels to Florida to visit family created special memories for those gathered. He and his wife moved to Des Moines just one year ago to be closer to family. Lew minored in Piano Performance in college, and continued to play even just one week prior to his passing. He also enjoyed singing in the various church choirs he encountered as pastor and parishioner. In his final days, he found great comfort through listening to classical music while resting in his home. Lew also loved being in nature and taking long walks with his wife, which he made longer by stopping to admire and smell any and all flowers. Lew was a man of deep faith and deep thought, also known to laugh the loudest in any room. As an avid reader and with an open mind, he was always ready to delve into the unseen and unexplored in conversation. His love of knowledge, and sharing that knowledge with others, is carried forward by his children. When asked what he wanted to pass on to his family before he passed away, Lew’s response was simple: always seek and find love and beauty. Lew brought great love and beauty to this world, and he wishes for his family to carry on this part of his spirit.