May 6, 1937 - March 4, 2021
John passed away peacefully in his home on March 4, 2021 after a lengthy illness.
John Peter Vanderheiden was born in David City, Nebraska on May 6, 1937, the day the Hindenburg crashed, as he liked to tell people. John’s early experiences on a farm instilled a love of biology and all forms of engineering. He died on March 4, 2021 in Bend. He was preceded in death by his parents, Francis and Frances Vanderheiden; his stepmother, Marjorie Kovar Vanderheiden; his brother, Francis “Frank” Vanderheiden; niece, Mary Vanderheiden; and his brother-in-law, Joe Chase. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Marita Vanderheiden of Bend; his sisters, Mary Chase of Omaha, Nebraska and Anne Cunningham, spouse Ron, of West Linn; many loving nieces and nephews; his children, Sean Vanderheiden of Tigard, Steven Vanderheiden, spouse Janet Donavan, of Boulder, Colorado, Ann Vanderheiden, spouse Jason Jones, of Wilsonville, and Scott Vanderheiden, spouse Katherine, of Kirkland, Washington; and his beloved grandchildren, Madeleine and Sophie Vanderheiden of Kirkland, Washington, Evan and Nolan Jones of Wilsonville, and Tyler and Blake Vanderheiden of Boulder, Colorado.
John was a self-described “country kid” with an inexhaustible DIY spirit. Throughout his life, he acted the part of woodworker, house-builder, plumber, logger, electronics-fixer, seamstress, furniture-builder, and more. He graduated from high school at 16, and began his studies in veterinary medicine at Iowa State University, attending quarters while taking time off to help with farming. He enlisted in the Army and eventually was stationed at Fort Bragg, working as a lab tech. After military service, he was accepted into Creighton University School of Medicine.
While at Creighton, he met his future bride when she agreed to be his bridge date, even though she secretly had no idea how to play. She was a quick study, and they enjoyed listening to music at a piano bar at the airport, and of course, many more years of bridge. They went on a camping honeymoon to the west coast, and they fell in love with the Pacific Northwest, and especially Bend. He fulfilled his dream of living there in his retirement. After completing a General Surgery Residency, he practiced General Surgency in Fort Dodge, Iowa for three years. An opportunity opened up in the Northwest, and the growing family moved to Coos Bay for the next 30 years. Enjoying the coast and avoiding the cold, snowy weather of the Midwest was uppermost in his mind. However, the Oregon Coast had several meaningful snow episodes while they were living there. The lure of skiing and love of Central Oregon was reawakened, prompting the move to Bend in 2003, after his retirement.
Soon, his family grew with marriages and the wonderful grandchildren. They are the blessings of John and Marita’s life. The family enjoyed the Central Oregon lifestyle, including skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, playing bridge, and enjoying the sunny, warm summers and the snowy winters. He will be remembered most as an honest, humble man of integrity, and for his lifelong love and commitment to his family.
Services: A funeral Mass will be held on Thursday, March 11 at 10:00 AM at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church at 2450 NE 27th Street Bend, Oregon 97701. A rosary will take place prior to Mass in the church. Graveside services will follow. The Mass will be livestreamed at stfrancisbend.org/
A Celebration of Life for Dr. John Vanderheiden will be held at a later date.
Baird Funeral Homes is honored to serve the family. 541-382-0903. Please visit the online registry for the family at bairdfh.com
Contributions may be made to:
Partners in Care Hospice of Bend
2075 NE Wyatt Court
Bend, Oregon 97701
St. Francis of Assisi for the restoration of the historic church
2450 NE 27th Street
Bend, Oregon 97701
Mt. Bachelor Sports and Education Foundation (MBSEF)
2765 NW Lola Drive
Bend, Oregon 97703