Sioux County, Iowa



John W. Van Roekel was born May 16,1916 on the farm four miles west and one-half south of Old Town Sioux Center. He attended the country school - part of the time at the Christian School and part of the time at the public country school. The Christian School being open only when there were enough students and patrons to warrant a teacher. He graduated from the eighth grade. After that it was time to work, often hiring out to area farmers or helping at home.

Corn picking by hand was one task he really disliked. One time while picking with three at a wagon, the outside picker got a little carried away and sure enough he got hit in the head with an ear of corn. As if things weren't bad enough.

It was a dark rainy day the eighth of March, 1940 when John and Aldine Vermeer were married by Rev. Brunsting of the First Reformed Church, Sioux Center, Iowa. Aldine was the daughter of Evert Vermeer and Alida.

L-R Back row: Jerris, Willis; Middle row: Orville, Marlene, Elwin; Front row: John, Aldine,

We farmed in the Sioux Center area for a few years and in March, 1955 we moved to a farm near Orange City, Iowa. We lived on that farm for24 years and in 1969 we had a farm sale and moved to Orange City. John drove school bus for 12 years and I worked as a secretary at Northwestern College for 15 years. We are retired now.

One hot windy morning in July of 1952, we ware shocked to hear the cries of the children while we ware in the barn milking, "fire, fire." The four older ones who were sleeping upstairs were awakened by smoke. Elwin kicked the screen out and let Marlene and Willis down as far as he could and John caught them; then he jumped. Harlan didn't wait for anyone, he jumped before John could catch him. I ran around the front of the house and got Orville from the downstairs bedroom. All we saved was the clothes and furniture from the down stairs bedroom.

To this union eight children ware born: (two passed away at birth) The others all graduated from the Maurice-Orange City High School. Only additional education will be noted.
Elwin married Sharon Buckley of Denver. They have two sons. Elwin is a self-employed electrician in Denver and Sharon works as a bookkeeper.

Harlan married Janice Vande Griend. They have two sons and a daughter and one grandson. They farm north and west of Orange City and Janice works at K-Products in Orange City.

Marlene married Robert De Geest. They have a son and a daughter. They live in Spokane, WA where Bob manages a tire retail store and Marlene works for Eastern Washington Medicare Center, as a computer operator.

Leroy and Leila, twins, were born very premature and lived only a few hours.

Willis married Janice Westley of Pipestone, MN. Willis graduated from Iowa State College at Ames, IA; and then served two years in the army. They have twins, a son and a daughter. They live in Pipestone, MN where Willis owns and operates the Pipestone Vault and Monument Co. and Janice works part-time as a bookkeeper.

Orville married Jeanne Dykstra of Hospers, IA. Orville served four years in the Air Force, graduated from Northwest Technical College, Sheldon, IA as an electrician. They have two daughters and a son. They live in Hospers, IA where Orville is a self-employed electrician, and Jeanne works parttime as an L.P.N. in the Sheldon Hospital.

Jerris married Tamra Oolrich of Mankato, MN. He graduated from Northwestern College, Orange City, IA and attended the University of Nebraska one Year. Tamra graduated from Mankato State, Mankato, MN and attended the University of Nebraska one year. They are presently living and teaching in Boulder, CO. He as teacher and basketball coach and she as a third grade teacher.

We have twelve grandchildren, three of whom are married and we have one great grandson.

by Aldine (Vermeer) Van Roekel

Source: Sioux Center Iowa 1991 Centennial Book--Family Contributor, Mary Haverhals


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