Cover photo for Norman Gene Vandehaar's Obituary
Norman Gene Vandehaar Profile Photo
1928 Norman 2019

Norman Gene Vandehaar

July 18, 1928 — September 5, 2019


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
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Norman Gene Vandehaar, please visit our flower store.


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