In Memory of

Norman Gene Vandehaar

July 18, 1928 - September 5, 2019
From: Spencer, IA
Norman Gene Vandehaar

Norman Gene Vandehaar

Born: July 18, 1928
Died: September 5, 2019
Age: 91

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In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Spencer Sacred Heart Church, or the National Diabetes Association.  Since it was important to him, his children request that you recycle an old greeting card, add a cute note to it, and use the money you saved on a new card for a donation to your favorite charity.

 Norman Gene Vandehaar, age 91, passed away on Thursday, September 5, 2019, at the Spencer Hospital in Spencer, Iowa, surrounded by his loving family.  Norman was born on July 18, 1928, to William and Carrie Vandehaar, the eighth of nine children and was raised on a farm near Mitchellville, Iowa. 

Norman attended country school, Woodville #4, through 8th grade, and graduated from Mitchellville High School in 1946.  He was president of his Senior Class, lettered in football, basketball and baseball, and was cast in two class plays.  He served in the U.S. Army from 1946-48 with a field artillery unit in South Korea. 

Norman graduated from Iowa State University in 1952 with a degree in Agriculture Education.  During college and vacation times, he drove truck on a bread route and worked as a postal worker, carpenter, Western Union messenger and as a farm hand. 

Norman married his high school sweetheart, JoAnn Ryan in May of 1950 at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Colfax, Iowa.  Together they lived in Des Moines for two years while Norman commuted to Iowa State to finish his degree. 

Norman and JoAnn moved to Manning, Iowa, where their two sons, Mark and Kent were born and he taught Vocational Agriculture (Voc Ag) for four years.  His teaching continued for six years in Atlantic, Iowa, during which time he served as president of the Iowa Voc Ag Teachers Association.  Norman often spoke of the many exceptional young men he was fortunate to have in his Voc Ag classes over the years.  While in Atlantic, he officiated for girls and boys high school basketball games, served as President of the Jaycees, was a Rotary Club member, and a member of the Atlantic Golf & Country Club.

 In 1965, Norman left teaching and was employed by Henningsen Steel Products, a construction company in Atlantic.  In 1966, he moved his family to Spencer, Iowa, to open a branch office for the company.  He managed that office for 20 years and ended up purchasing the business, changing the name to Vandehaar Steel Builders.  He and JoAnn operated their new business together for 10 years.  Throughout that time, the design-build construction business included manufacturing plants, office buildings, retail stores, churches, automobile and implement dealerships, warehouses, and mini-storage facilities, many of which are still viable today.  Norman held a great respect and was grateful for the repeat business he was awarded from the highly successful companies in Northwest Iowa as they continued to expand.

In Spencer, Norman’s dedication to his community continued.  He served on the Sacred Heart School Board, the Sacred Heart Church Building and Grounds Committee, and was an usher and a lector at church.  He was a Jaycee member, and served on the board for Spencer Industries for 13 years and the Chamber of Commerce for 7 years.  

Norm’s love of golf was evident as a 50-year member of the Spencer Golf and Country Club, serving 2 years as president and also served 3 years on the board of the Iowa Golf Association. 

Norman and JoAnn sold their construction firm in 1994.  Together they purchased a winter home at Olde Hickory Golf & Country Club in South Ft. Myers, Florida.  The love of his life, JoAnn, passed away there in 1997, and Norman continued to split his time between Spencer and Ft. Myers until his death.  

One of his great golf memories was, at age 85, scoring an eagle on the tough #18 hole at Olde Hickory, after bouncing the ball off the wooden steps of the huge sand bunker that protected the green. 

He often said that any successes he had were greatly influenced by the things he learned about life while being raised on an Iowa farm. 

Norman is survived by his two sons Mark (Ann) Vandehaar of Spencer, IA, and Dr. Kent (Sheri) Vandehaar of Chippewa Falls, WI.  He will be greatly missed by his grandchildren: Ryan Vandehaar of Seattle, WA, Adam (Dani) Vandehaar of Des Moines, IA, Dr. Jason (Heather) Vandehaar of Madison, WI, Eric Vandehaar of Denver, CO, Dr. Catherine Vandehaar of  Hood River, OR, Samuel Vandehaar of Chippewa Falls, WI; and great-grandchildren: Lukas of Seattle, WA, and Henry and Jack of Madison, WI.  He is also survived by his sister, Vivian (John) Thompson of Des Moines, IA; and several nieces and nephews.  Norman was preceded in death by his wife, four brothers, and three sisters.  

The family wishes to express our deepest appreciation to Dr. William Benson, and the nurses and staff at Spencer Hospital for their excellent care and compassion during Norm’s passing. 


A private family service will be held Saturday, September 28, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Spencer, Iowa.

Friends and family are invited to a celebration of life and light luncheon to be held at the Spencer Golf and Country Club, 12 - 3:00 p.m., on Saturday, September 28.
Father Tim Hogan
Riverside Cemetery
Spencer, Iowa


Wednesday, October 2, 2019 at 9:25 AM
“I met Norm the first week they moved to Spencer and became friends immediately.. What a true friend. RIP”
- Don Peters
Wednesday, September 25, 2019 at 8:01 AM
“I met Norm thru my dad at breakfast club as did my brother’s & sister he always talked about Mitchellville. He will be missed. Accept our condolences from myself and my family ”
- Mark Holiday
Tuesday, September 17, 2019 at 7:51 AM
“I played lots of golf with Norm over the years and never realized all of his accomplishments. He certainly was quite a guy. I'll miss you Norm.”
- Bill Lauritzen
Saturday, September 14, 2019 at 8:54 AM
“Norm and Joanne purchased their condo at Olde Hickory the same year as we did. They were right below us. Don and Norm played golf together even one day when the temperatures were at 32. They were the only ones on the course that morning. Norm and Joanne were wonderful neighbors and we treasure our memories of those years. Our condolences to the Vandehaar family. ”
- Don and Betsy Scott
Friday, September 13, 2019 at 5:00 PM
“We were so sorry to hear of Norm's passing. He was a wonderful neighbor in our building 16 at Olde Hickory.”
- Ben and Lynn Brand
Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 8:53 PM
“Dear Mark, Ann, and Families, We are sorry for the loss of your Dad. He will be missed by all that knew him. May God bless you all. Mike and Mary Monroe
- Mike&Mary Monroe
Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 3:02 PM
“Mark, Ann and family. I'm so sorry for your loss. You're in my thoughts and prayers.”
- Tammy Merry
Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 8:42 AM
“Norm and JoAnn were are neighbors in Olde Hickory. JoAnn would have a meal for us when we arrived. We always looked forward to seeing Norm and talking to him, He was our local handyman. Before he left he made us a bird house which hangs in our backyard here in Ohio. We sure missed him when he left, Our deepset sympathy to your family.”
- Marcia Fenner and Margie DiMario
Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 8:42 AM
“My deepest sympathies to the whole family, he was a very kind man !
May God be with you ! ”
- Rhonda Olson
Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at 10:24 AM
“Growing up, we always looked forward to coming to Iowa during the summer months, especially during August when sweet corn ruled the world. I'll never forget how Aunt JoAnn would eat corn one row at a time, and then I would hear my mother laugh so hard she would cry. Uncle Norm was always there for my mom and dad! At our wedding, I still remember being driven from the church to the reception in the back seat of my Aunt & Uncle's fancy car. They loved each other so much, and it was great having them as a role model shepherd us during our special day. I know they are together again and that brings me joy. He will be missed! ”
- Jennifer Linn
Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at 10:24 AM
“Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers! I have enjoyed getting to know Norm recently! He sure knew how to light up a room!”
- Dawn Green Fletcher
Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at 10:24 AM
“To my Iowa cousins Mark and Kent, we are so sorry for your loss. Uncle Norman was so wonderful to my Mom (Geraldine) and Dad (Jerry) and Mom thought of him as a brother. I'll never forget your folks driving us from the church to the reception for our wedding in the back seat of their fancy car. They were as much the lovebirds that day as we were. Love to you all. Mark & Jennifer Linn”
- Jennifer Linn
Monday, September 9, 2019 at 3:37 PM
“Our deepest sympathy. Norman will be missed by all”
- Ronald Seibert
Monday, September 9, 2019 at 1:22 PM
“Norm was our neighbor in Olde Hickory. We moved in after your Mom had passed away so we never knew her. It was wonderful to read of your Dad's life in the obituary When my late husband and started spending time in Olde Hickory he introduced us to half price pizza Tuesday at Stevie Tomatoes.
He will be missed.

- Judy Dincher
Monday, September 9, 2019 at 12:22 PM
“Norm was a wonderful neighbor and friend, and we will miss him greatly. He was always fun to talk to, and his homemade peach pies were legendary. Deepest sympathy to his family. We share your grief.”
- Bob and Jane Goeken
Monday, September 9, 2019 at 10:47 AM
“Mark , Ann & Family: So sorry to hear of Mark's dads passing! My God Bless you all!”
- Jeff & Judy Mahrt
Monday, September 9, 2019 at 9:01 AM
“Goidbye old coffee friend. You will be missed by all of us. Rest in peace.”
- Jack Ryan
Monday, September 9, 2019 at 7:59 AM
“Norm was a wonderful man, father, husband, and friend.We will miss his wonderful sence of humor and fun stories. ”
- Jack Ryan
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