William “Bill” VanderVeen, 81, of Indianapolis, Indiana passed away at Community Hospital South on Saturday, September 30, 2023
He was born on Saturday, October 4, 1941, to the late Bert and Mary Jane (Fritsche) VanderVeen in Beech Grove, Indiana.
Bill graduated in 1959 from Southport High School and attended and graduated from IUPUI with an associate degree. Bill was in the United States Army and was stationed at Whitesands Missile Range, Trinity Site in New Mexico, and was a Military Police Officer during that time. Bill retired from Allison Transmission Services after a 30-year career and Rexnord after that. He then began working for Horizon Transport as a transporter, delivering FEMA relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Bill loved the Western United States, especially Moab, Utah. He was a trail blazer and a trail rider. In 1920, his father, Bert VanderVeen purchased this former Sheriff/Police bike from George Schulteti at Indianapolis Southside Harley-Davidson. Bert used the bike as year-round, daily transportation from 1950 – 1954. A sidecar was added in winter months for additional traction. In 1951, his son, Bill, learned to ride it at the age of 10. His father gave him the bike in 1955 at the age of 14. From 1956 – 1961, Bill rode this bike daily as a street bike and as a hill climber on the weekends. In 1964 it was converted to an official hillclimber. From 1966 -1978 he won many State Championship Hillclimbs with it. In 1978 – 1979, Bill competed in two National Hillclimb competitions and was owned by Bill to this day A lifelong road warrior, Bill loved nothing more than adventures under the sun.
Bill was a member of Indy Runners, and successfully completed over twenty-five 500 Festival Mini Marathon races. His commitment to running began after a successful battle with throat cancer. He embraced a strenuous hobby, post Laryngectomy, when most people would have shied away from such a challenge. He is known as Superman to his family.
Bill nearly put 1 million miles on his shiny red 2006, Chevy Silverado truck and it was a source of healthy pride. Bill was also an avid reader who loved reading Westerns especially stories written by Loius L’Amour and Zane Gray.
Bill was always on the go, never idle, (aside from daily catnaps) mowing grass like it was his job and he could repair any vehicle or motorcycle. He never stopped learning, never met a stranger, and loved to lend a hand if someone needed help.
Collecting Edsel’s and belonging to the International Edsel Club brought Bill years of enjoyment. He enjoyed and shared passion for restoring beautiful cars and swapping stories with other Edsel aficionados. Edsel’s are notoriously moody and sharing Edsel ownership highs and lows was a bonding experience.
For years, the last name “VanderVeen” and Harley Davidson have gone hand in hand. Bill was a “Harley Man” who rode, loved, and collected motorcycles. A few years ago, his 1947 Knucklehead was featured in an exhibit at Indiana Historical Society in July 2017 honoring long time family friends, the Schulteti family, originators of Southside Harley Davidson. He loved shining up his cars and bikes for others to enjoy.
Bill grew up attending Christian Park Reformed Church with his family, a building his father helped build. He also served as Deacon and Elder as an adult. Most recently, he and Susan made Southport United Methodist Church their church home.
Bill was an animal lover and rescued more animals than anyone can count. There is a long list of dogs, cats, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, chickens, and roosters that owe their life to Bill. He was a friend to all. The tale of how he and Wink, the one-eyed dog found each other at a rest stop in Tennessee, is the stuff of legends. After he was nursed back to health, Wink became Bill’s happy co-piolet during long rides and thousands of miles in the big red truck.
Of the many, many miles that Bill drove on the open road in the desert with friends, family, and his dogs, (although Wink logged more miles than Susan) his favorite passenger was still his beloved wife. They traveled all over the country together and made beautiful memories that lasted a lifetime.
Bill is survived by his wife of 33 years, Susan K. (Britton) VanderVeen; daughter, Kellie Henisa; step-children, Rachel Heidenreich, Jess Heidenreich and his wife Kassi; grandchildren, Nathan Chelf and his wife Kaeli Bryant, Madeline Chelf, Jonathan Chelf, Scarlett Heidenreich, Julian Heidenreich; sisters, Shirley VanderVeen, Karen “Susie” VanderVeen, Margaret VanderVeen; brothers, Jim VanderVeen and his wife Nancy, John VanderVeen and his wife Kathy; mother-in-law, Vivian Britton and many other loving family and friends.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Bert, and Mary Jane VanderVeen and brother, Russell VanderVeen.
Memorial visitation is Friday, October 20, 2023, 12:30 pm until 4:30 pm at Southport United Methodist Church, 1947 E. Southport Road, Indianapolis, IN 46227.
Memorial service will begin at 4:30 pm.
Burial to follow at a later date at Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, IN.
Bill had a huge heart for animals and believed that all animals deserved to be helped in time of need, whether they needed a meal and place to sleep or proper burial. He was a true Humanitarian. In his memory, please donate to Franklin Animal Clinic at 2990 N. Morton Street, Franklin, Indiana 46131 or at the Memorial service in the donation box.