Robert Vander Lugt ’58

Robert (“Bob”) William Vander Lugt, of Ocoee/Winter Garden, Florida, moved home to heaven on Sunday, July 9, at age 87.   Born on January 12, 1936 in Pella, Iowa, he also lived and studied in Pennsylvania and Michigan, before graduating from law school in Indiana.  Married to “the girl across the street”  Ruth Ellen Mokma, on August 19, 1961, they embarked together on a thirty year adventure through his service as U.S. Navy JAG Corps (legal) officer that took them to live (and raise their family) in the District of Columbia, North Carolina, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Naples (Italy), Florida, and South Carolina (where he served as Commanding Officer of the Naval Legal Service Office) and then Florida again, before his “first retirement” as a Captain from the Navy.  After a “gap year” travelling the country and visiting with many close friends and family in their motor home, Bob embarked on his second career as a high school teacher, and coach at Lake Highland Preparatory School in Winter Park, Florida, and an adjunct professor at several colleges.

Bob’s deep faith in God, and his experience of the redemptive work of His son Jesus, shaped a life that was devoted to service–to his Heavenly Father, his wife, his family, his nation, his sailors, officers and civilian employees, his Sunday school students, high school students, his neighbors, the staff and residents of the three assisted living facilities in which he resided, and thousands of other people with whom he shared his faith, his wit, the wisdom he had found for living (mostly from the Word of God), and often a financial or material gift as well.

In addition to his love and commitment to his Savior, his love and commitment to his wife was extraordinary.  Bob loved his wife well.  They very often caught the eye of others around them with small romantic gestures.  Their marriage of nearly 62 years reflected one to be admired and respected.

His work gave him the opportunity to teach, lead, mentor and encourage thousands of people over the years, and he loved to correspond with those who let him know their lives had been touched by those interactions.

Among the things he loved to do were:  read (especially about government and current events), teach (almost every level from Sunday school to College), play and watch sports (especially basketball and golf), paint houses (from the time he earned his room and board that way in high school through painting the homes and rooms of his children and grandchildren), share a personal story with a message, share a historical fact or story, travel and explore new places and also revisit and take others to places that were meaningful.

A devoted brother, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, he is survived by his brother Karel ’62 Vander Lugt (and wife Joyce’62), his wife Ruth E. Vander Lugt ’61, of Winter Garden, Florida, his daughter Sandra K. Haines (and husband Richard), son Robert D. Vander Lugt (and wife Ruthie), son David W. Vander Lugt (and wife Amy), as well as grandchildren Andrew, Josh (and wife Madison), Julie, Lauren (and husband Brandon), Rebecca (and husband Doug) and Joel, and his great-grand-daughter Anna.  He is preceded in death by his parents William and Peternell Vander Lugt, as well as his sister Elizabeth, brother William, and grandson Michael.

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