Carl Dean VanderKolk, 71, of Burnips, died Saturday, Dec. 26, at Metro Hospital in Grand Rapids.
Carl was born April 17, 1949 in Zeeland, to Hollis and Laura VanderKolk. He graduated from Hamilton High School in 1967 and then served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve.
He met Gail Buckham while showing livestock at the Allegan County Fair and they were married on July 13, 1974. Carl grew up on the family farm, raising and showing champion Guernsey cattle. He founded Burnips Equipment in 1972 with his family.
Carl, Gail and their children took over the equipment business and grew it to be one of the largest New Holland dealerships in the country. Carl became involved in raising livestock through his children’s 4-H projects and developed a passion for raising and showing beef cattle. In his later years, he became involved in the Michigan Cattleman’s Association, serving as president and chairman of the MI Beef Expo.
Carl surpassed a trial with brain cancer in 2017, telling all the doctor and nurses that he was “tougher than a $2 steak.” He learned to make the most of enjoying his later years. Carl enjoyed spending his time watching over the dealership, flying his plane, wintering in Arizona, spending time at his cabin in the woods, or watching his children show livestock.
He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Gail; their children, Craig (Heidi) VanderKolk, Kim (Jake) Schut and Susan (Brady) Ostrom; grandchildren, Maryanna O’Connor, Patrick and Andrew VanderKolk, Bryce and Cooper Ostrom and Jaxon Schut; brother, Scott (Kathy) VanderKolk; numerous in-laws, cousins, nieces, nephews and his employees of Burnips Equipment, whom he thought of as family.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Hollis (Eleanor) VanderKolk, Laura VanderKolk and George and Thelma Buckham.
The family will receive friends at Burnips Equipment Service Shop, Dorr location, from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 30, Thursday, Dec. 31, from 10 to 11 a.m. The funeral will begin at 11 a.m. with interment to take place in Salem Township Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations will support the Neuro Oncology Gift Fund at the University of Michigan. Checks may be made to “University of Michigan” and sent to the Michigan Medicine Office of Development, 1000 Oakbrook Drive, Ste. 100, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Donations may also be made to the Michigan State University Livestock Judging Team, Department of Animal Science, Attn: Sandy Bailey, 474 S. Shaw Lane, East Lansing, MI 48824 for the benefit of future livestock industry leaders.