In loving memory of Larry G. Vande Voort November 13, 1942—April 28, 2014
Husband, Father, Grandfather, Pilot, and Flight Instructor
Classic Aviation will never be the same and will always mourn the loss of Larry Vande Voort. He was a quiet but integral part of Classic Aviation and contributed to its success and growth during difficult times for general aviation. Larry was Shane’s beloved father, but also served as a father figure to so many who worked and trained at Classic Aviation.
Larry was a lifelong resident of the Sully/Pella area and grew up in the country near Sully. After high school he served his country as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne.
Larry was an aviation enthusiast since he was a kid and began flying lessons while in the military. He continued those lessons after he was discharged and pursued his instrument, commercial, multi-engine, and flight instructor ratings. Larry instructed in both Sully and in Pella in the 1970s. He was a member of the Sully Flying Club and owned a ½ share of a Cessna 140A for a time.
Larry worked for the City of Sully as the public works director and police chief for 28 ½ years. During that time he kept his love of flying going by renting airplanes and attending airshows on a regular basis. Also part of his job was caring for Sully’s little grass runway that meant so much to him. Service was a constant in Larry’s life: he was a volunteer fireman for 32 years, an EMT, a county reserve deputy, and a church deacon and Sunday school teacher.
Larry’s three children (Shawn, Nicole, and Shane) got to fly with him and Shane, the youngest, shared Larry’s passion for aviation. Shane learned to fly in high school and Larry was one of his first passengers. Larry was Shane’s constant encourager throughout the pilot ratings and through A&P school. Without Larry’s encouragement Shane would have never purchased Classic Aviation and got into the FBO business.
It pays to be versatile in the FBO business and Larry was the very definition of versatility. He flew as an instructor in every airplane in the Classic Aviation fleet, flew pilot service trips including flying right seat in jets, he flew and drove anywhere needed to pickup customers airplanes and parts, he maintained all of the airport equipment, pushed snow, mowed grass, moved and fueled all types of aircraft, answered phones, helped in the shop, mentored young flight instructors, and trained and motivated young, part-time workers.
From the moment Shane took over Classic Aviation, Larry was a constant help. He got his flight instructor rating reinstated and instructed thousands of hours with pilots of all experience levels. In 2006 Larry retired from the City of Sully. He didn’t even take a day off before coming to work full-time at Classic Aviation. Larry and his wife Carolyn were able to commute to work together most days.
Larry believed that a good pilot was always learning and he was constantly studying as a pilot and flight instructor. He added his Instrument Instructor rating in 2009 and his Multi-engine instructor rating in 2011. Larry was a natural mentor; he mentored many pilots and instructors as well as many others who worked at the FBO over the years.
In April 2013, after a full day of flying, Larry was struck suddenly and unexpectedly by a stroke. He suffered left side paralysis, which he mostly recovered from in the coming months. Larry was eager to recover and fly again and he flew again many times with rated pilots over the next year. In March of 2014 he was diagnosed with multiple brain tumors.
On April 28, 2014, Larry Vande Voort passed away at the age of 71 from brain cancer while surrounded by his wife and three children.
The Vande Voort family will always be grateful for the sympathy, understanding, and support shown to them during the difficult years of 2013 and 2014. Classic Aviation continues on as a tribute to Larry Vande Voort and his values of hard work, honesty, safety, and ongoing education.