Paul P. Van Damme, 94, of Watson, passed away Tuesday evening, September 18, 2018 at U.P Health System – Marquette. He was a resident of Eastwood Nursing Center in Negaunee.
Born May 24, 1924 in St. Nicholas, MI, Paul was third of the eight children born to Flemish Belgian Immigrants, Jules and Clara (Vertriest) Van Damme. Soon after he married Jeanette DeBacker on June 21, 1947 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Perkins, they established their dairy and potato farm in Watson. Having worked side-by-side for most of their 59-plus years of marriage, they also managed the Willow Farm Dairy in Harvey from 1959 to 1971. From 1971 to 1995 they owned and operated Superior Frozen French Fries in Watson.
Paul enjoyed people and was known for his goodwill and work ethic. If you visited his farm during harvest season, he would happily put you to work. He loved to show off the farm and was known to lead hay rides into the Escanaba River. His pockets were usually full of fifty-cent pieces for children, especially his great-grandchildren. In addition to farming, Paul worked in the woods and enjoyed the wheeling and dealing of equipment. He took pride in his family and enjoyed following his children’s and grandchildren’s events. He rarely passed up a garage sale and enjoyed snowmobiling, four-wheeling, jet skiing, hunting, and spending time with the friends he and Jeanette made during winters in Hudson, FL. With Jeanette, he was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Northland and active with the Hiawatha Land Farm Bureau and Metropolitan Farm Union. Paul was a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Cornell Lions Club, and he served on the boards for the National Potato Council, Michigan Potato Growers Association, and Marquette-Alger Soil Conservation District.
Paul is survived by daughters, Sharon (Christopher) Van Damme-Hollis of Lakewood, CO, Kathleen Van Damme of Morrison, CO, and Laurie (Steve Govier) Van Damme of Gwinn; son, Father Larry Van Damme of Negaunee; daughter-in-law, Linda Van Damme of Watson; sisters-in-law, Margaret Van Damme of St. Nicholas, Marjorie Van Damme of Gladstone, Dorothy Van Damme of Gladstone, and Jane Pryal of Escanaba; brother-in-law, Hubert Schmitt of Ellensburg, WA; grandchildren, Michele (Jeff) Deming of Boyne City, MI, Melissa (Jim) Delmont of Gwinn, Molly (Brett) Meyers of Crivitz, WI, Melinda (Joel) Dow of Gwinn, Oceanna (Hunter) Shaffer of Siler City, NC, Octavian (Mikayla) Hartwell of Wyoming, MI, Ashley Chipman of Fort Collins, CO, Robert Hollis of Lakewood, CO, and Austin Chipman of Lakewood, CO; and great-grandchildren, Michael and Morgan Deming of Boyne City, MI, Mallory, Marissa, and Makayla Delmont of Gwinn, Marli and Miles Myers of Crivitz, WI, Max and Micah Dow of Gwinn, Maxine Shaffer of Siler City, NC, and Paul Merrell Hartwell of Wyoming, MI.
In addition to his parents, Jules and Clara Van Damme, he was preceded in death by his wife, Jeanette; son, Michael; daughter, Clara; brothers, Francis, George, Jerry, Valere, and Joseph; sisters, Mary Schmitt and Theresa; brothers-in-law, Robert Beasley, Patrick DeBacker, Jerome DeBacker, Ronald Beauchamp, and Richard Pryal; sisters-in-law, Mary Beasley, Betty DeBacker, Louise Powers, Rose Beauchamp, and Doris Van Damme; and granddaughter, Kelsey Chipman.
Visitation will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, September 23, 2018 at the Anderson Funeral Home in Escanaba. Parish prayers with the sharing of stories and memories will begin at 5 p.m. in the Anderson Funeral Home Chapel. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Perkins at 11a.m., Monday, September 24, 2018 with Father Allen Mott presiding and Father Larry Van Damme and Father Fran DeGroot con-celebrating. A luncheon will follow in the church fellowship hall. Burial will take place in the St. Nicholas Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in memory of Paul P. Van Damme to St. Joseph Catholic Church, Northland, c/o St. Anthony Catholic Church, 280 N Boulder Street, Gwinn, MI 49841; the Activity Center at Eastwood Nursing Center, 900 Maas St, Negaunee, MI 49866, or the Rock Senior Center, 3892 E Maple Ridge 37th Rd, Rock, MI 49880. Paul’s family would like to thank the wonderful staff and volunteers at Eastwood Nursing Center for their exceptional care of him this past year. They would also like to thank Dalna Keinz for her care and friendship to Paul while caregiving for him at his home on the farm.
St. Joseph Catholic Church, Northland, c/o St. Anthony Catholic Church
280 N Boulder Street, Gwinn MI 49841
Activity Center at Eastwood Nursing Center
900 Maas St, Negaunee MI 49866
Rock Senior Center
3892 E Maple Ridge 37th Rd, Rock MI 49880