Kenneth Van Dam, age 88, of Neillsville, WI died Monday, March 9, 2020 at the Cornell Health Services Nursing Home in Cornell, WI.
Kenneth William Van Dam was born on April 3, 1931 in Chicago, IL the son of Lawrence and Dorothy (Laird) Van Dam. His family moved to Milwaukee, WI when Ken was in middle school and he graduated from West Milwaukee High School in 1949. He then attended UW-Madison for a year before leaving and going to work for the Inland Steel Corporation. After a year, he joined the United States Army and served in Korea for 14 months as Company Clerk, working for the General of the 45th Division. When he returned from the service, he was united in marriage to Marlys Samstad on January 16, 1954 in Minneapolis, MN, and he went back to college because he wanted to coach. Ken earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education, then returned in the summers to earn a Master’s degree in P.E. from UW-Madison. Later a 2nd Master’s Degree in guidance was earned in 1979. He taught at Gays Mills for 2 years and Edgerton for 3 years before moving to Neillsville in August of 1962. While at NHS he taught P.E. and Driver’s Ed. From 1962-1979, was the middle school guidance and assistant principal from 1980-1982 and the middle school principal from 1982-1993. During these times, he also served as the head boys’ basketball coach for 25 years and a golf coach for many years. Ken retired in 1993, but continued as a substitute teacher and bus driver, eventually retiring from driving bus in 2011. Marlys died in 2012.
Ken was a member of the Calvary Lutheran Church and a member of the Neillsville Kiwanis Club for many years. He enjoyed traveling, golfing and spending time with his family.
He is survived by two children, Steven (Shirley) Van Dam of Cornell, WI and Sally Van Dam of Marshfield, WI, son-in-law, Steven Carlson of White Bear Lake, MN, 7 grandchildren, Jennifer (AJ Powell-fiancé) Van Dam, Jason (Kelly) Van Dam, Jared Van Dam, Sara (Ryan) Plath, Erik Carlson, Andrew (Ali) Carlson and Emily Van Dam, 6 great grandchildren, Aubrey Van Dam, Macy Van Dam, Finley Van Dam, Tristan Powell, Quintin Powell and Daisy Plath. Ken is further survived by a brother, William Van Dam of Wisconsin Rapids, WI, a sister-in-law, Darlene Van Dam of Arkansas and many nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Marlys, a daughter, Susan Carlson, his parents, two brothers, Jack Van Dam and Lawrence Van Dam and two sisters-in-law, Jeanette Van Dam and Patricia Van Dam.
A Memorial Service for Ken will be held at 11:00 a.m., Monday, March 16, 2020 at the Calvary Lutheran Church in Neillsville. Pastor Chad Anderson will officiate. Interment will be in the Neillsville City Cemetery with Military Honors performed by the Neillsville Veteran’s Council. Visitation will be from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., Sunday at the Gesche Funeral Home and from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., Monday at the Calvary Lutheran Church.
Ken’s family would like to thank the staff at Cornell Health Services and St. Croix Hospice for the care they provided to Ken.
Online Condolences may be made at www.geschefh.com.
Gesche Funeral Home and Cremation Service is assisting Ken’s family with Funeral arrangements.