Richard Christopher was eager to enter this world as he hardly waited to get to the Hanover Hospital to arrive. He was born on July 23, 1961 to parents Frank and Rita (Cox) Vandervoort and joined older brother Tom. The Vandervoort family was now complete, calling Chesley home. The boys attended Chesley Public School before moving onto Chesley District High School where Rick graduated in 1979.
Upon graduation, Rick joined his father at the family business. He soon enrolled at Fanshawe College to begin his mechanic apprenticeship. Rick attended school in London and completed his workplace commitments at home beside his father. He completed his apprenticeship on June 20, 1983, completing his dream of becoming a licensed mechanic. Rick's learning was not done there as he furthered his education in the coming years. In 1985 he completed a course allowing him to work on propane vehicles. He then finished his diesel endorsement (truck & coach technician) in 1987 and electrical upgrades in 1990. One might ask what brand of vehicle Rick enjoyed working on the most? Well, GMC of course!
While working at the garage Rick was introduced to a young woman by the name of Nancy Janssen. The year was 1987. Their relationship did not start out well as I am told Rick stood Nancy up on the first date. Imagine... a no show. In fact, she skipped out on a wedding that she was to attend that evening. Funny thing is that Rick forgot that he was to bartend at this same wedding and he neglected to inform Nancy of this error. She was filled in on all of this when her sister returned home later that night from the wedding. Yikes! After following Rick around town the following week, they eventually made amends and began dating. The couple dated for a few years before marrying at Holy Family Catholic Church on December 22, 1990. The couple soon settled in Elmwood.
A memorable story was told of Rick attempting to help out a friend in need, while trying his hand at farming. His friend Brad Law was to go away for the weekend and Rick was left to care for his cattle. Somehow the animals managed to get out of their pens and Rick was tasked with rounding them all up and returned them to their rightful spots. He was so proud of himself! When Brad returned home he asked Rick if there were any problems. Of course, Rick replied, "No, everything went great!" at which point Brad asked him why the calf was in with the bull? Apparently, Rick struggled to tell the difference in genders... you'd think he might have asked his girlfriend (Nancy) who grew up on a dairy farm, right?
Word has it that in his prime Rick was phenomenal on roller skates. In addition to being a fabulous skater, he could perform a variety of difficult tricks and was a talented dancer. He also thoroughly enjoyed diving, obtaining his license and spending many hours underwater in Lake Huron. Nancy and Rick welcomed their son Brad on April 13, 1995 and made their family complete with the arrival of Jodi on March 22, 1998.
Most days were spent putting in long hours at the garage. Rick began his workday at 9, took lunch from 2 - 3, leaving him enough time to catch up on the odd soap opera (yep, you read correctly), and then back to work until 7 - 7:30. When not at work Rick loved tinkering at home with small engines. It is no surprise he was most comfortable in his coveralls working with his hands.
Rick liked his toys as well. Before kids, he owned a rather quick go-kart with a Honda engine. This mean machine could travel in excess of 90 miles an hour, so it is no big surprise that Rick was forced to downsize before the kids arrived. After the kids were born, he often allowed them to experience these toys on their own at a young age. Jodi was driving on her own at just 3 years old, much to Nancy's chagrin, and also had her first accident. Big surprise... right! In the winter months, Rick spent countless hours pulling the kids around the house on their GT's, with his old Olympic snowmobile. The kids have many fond memories of trick or treating with their dad around Elmwood.
He also loved Easter. Every year, he would go out in the backyard and hide approximately 170 eggs for the kids to find on Easter morning. Some hiding spots were so good they weren't found until years later! There were also the memories created at the cottage at Six Mile Lake, fishing and tubing with the kids. When it came to their vehicles, he always asked when they last checked the oil and reminded them to fix any issue as soon as possible as things were only going to get worse, not better. These memories and many more will live on in his children for years to come.
Rick apparently liked to collect everything and found it very difficult to part with things... to say he was a packrat might be an understatement. In recent years, he liked to check out "buy & sell" on the iPad, with his last purchase being a new pressure washer for the family. Did they throw out to old one? Nope, he wanted to fix it up and sell it!
Rick's favourite dish? Well, kroketten of course! Go ahead, look it up, I did. It is a Dutch dish that was prepared with love by his sister-in-law Diane. After his first stroke, Rick began to enjoy sweets more. This meant more Popsicles and Timbits. Although not much for TV, Rick and Nancy always enjoyed tuning into the yearly World Junior Hockey Tournament and supporting our young Canadians.
He was a prankster with a great sense of humour who loved all those around him dearly. He treasured socializing with friends and was known to enjoy the odd Labatt Blue product, either at the shop after work or with friends in Elmwood. Who could forget his jokes? Rick was always ready with a new joke and in recent months even phoned family members just to tell them his newest, greatest joke. He loved making people laugh and enjoyed seeing a smile on the faces of those around him.
Sadly, life forever changed for Rick and his family on Easter weekend in 2014 when he suffered a severe stroke. He persevered and completed a successful 5-week rehab only to experience another stroke 4 days following his return home. Unfortunately, this forced Rick's hand and he had to retire at the age of 53. Although limited physically, Rick remained positive and tried to make the best of every day. Sadly, he was recently thrown another blow and diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer. Rick lived out his remaining days, at home, the way he wanted it, supported by friends and family. He passed away surrounded by those he loved on Friday, April 10, 2020 in his 59th year.
Beloved husband of Nancy (Janssen). Loving father of Brad and Jodi (Aaron Heipel). Rick had high hopes of seeing the arrival of his granddaughter, this August, but unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Cherished son of Rita Vandervoort of Chesley and loving brother of Tom (Sandy) of Elmwood. Rick will be dearly missed by his large extended family, the entire Janssen family and many close friends. He was predeceased by his father Frank Vandervoort (2017).
The love and support of family, friends, and the community is so important at times like these, and even more so when we are not permitted to gather to support one another. Please leave a detailed condolence, or perhaps a favourite story, or a way Rick touched your life - something to inspire a measure of comfort and hope to all who read these comments. Thank you!
Please consider this as your invitation to join Rick's family, as they take Rick on his final drive. The procession will begin at the former Vandervoort Garage on Thursday, April 16, 2020 at 12:30 p.m. and will conclude at his final resting place in the Chesley Cemetery. Given our current gathering restrictions please remain in your vehicle throughout this entire tribute. A private family interment will follow.
Memorial donations to the Canadian Cancer Society or Heart & Stroke Foundation would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.Send to friend