Gerritt Jon VanWagenen Jr.,
July 13, 1966 — Oct. 23, 2016
Gerritt “Willie” Jon VanWagenen Jr., 50, departed this world for heaven Oct. 23, 2016, in West Bend after a short battle with late-stage colon cancer.
Gerritt was born in Madison on July 13, 1966. He went to high school at University School of Milwaukee, graduating in 1984, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, graduating in 1988. He had a rewarding and fun career as a chemist, working jobs in Wisconsin, Missouri and Massachusetts. In 2002, he switched careers and pursued a master’s degree in architecture from Boston Architectural College and went on to work in this field. In January 2012, Gerritt and his wife Julie felt called by God to become full-time missionaries in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and have lived there ever since. Gerritt loved God and his family with all his being. He loved spending summers at Camp Highlands For Boys in Sayner as a camper and then a counselor. He was a kid at heart, serving as a leader in AWANA and Youth Group. He faithfully served at Westgate Church in Weston, Massachusetts, on the pastoral search committee and at Quisqueya Chapel in Port-au-Prince as a Deacon-Elder. Gerritt’s smile would light up a room and he put God first, others second and lived “I’m Third.”
Gerritt is survived by his wife of 14 years, Julie (nee Henderson) Van-Wagenen; his parents, Gerritt and Kathleen VanWagenen of West Bend; his brother, Mike and Sara VanWagenen (Erin and Hannah) of West Bend; his sister, Kristin and Mike Keepman (Mary) of Milwaukee; his in-laws, Ken and Carolynn Henderson of Massachusetts; and his brother-in-law, Derek and Molly Henderson (Michael, Jacque and Kate) of New Jersey. Gerritt is preceded in death by his sister, Heidi VanWagenen.
Friends and family may join us to celebrate his life at Padway’s Restaurant on Big Cedar Lake on Friday, Oct. 28, from 5-8 p.m. A funeral service at Westgate Church in Weston, Massachusetts, will be at a future date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Camp Highlands for Boys — send them to Highlands Donations c/o John Bauer, 1204 Talbridge Way, St. Louis, MO 63303 — or AWAKENHAITI, P.O. Box 951, Carlisle, PA 17013.
Harder Funeral Home of Brookfield is assisting the family: 262-781-8350 or www.harderfuneralhome.com.