Wallace Lee Van |
HARLINGEN, TX. --
Wallace Lee Van Wyk (Wally) went to be with the Lord on Friday, January 24, 2014 at the age of 86.
He was born to Susan and William Teunis Van Wyk on February 18, 1927 in Hull, Iowa. He was met at the heavenly gates in the presence of Christ, by his parents, brothers Herbert and Arthur, friends, and loved ones.
In April of 1951, a blind date led to a romance of 62 years of marriage. Wally leaves behind his wife Peggy Lee, a daughter Laura Lee, three sons William Roger, John Michael (wife, Sara) and Joseph. Six much loved grandchildren, Hillary (husband Richard Van Gelder), Sarah Elizabeth (husband Caleb Truax), William, Rory, Sydney, and Caleb Lee. Also, his first great-grandchild, Jack Truax.
He was a loving, devoted, dedicated son, husband, father, grandfather and friend. His thoroughly worn Bible and meaningful notes are symbolic of his deep and personal relationship with Jesus. He poured his life into helping others. Wally was also dedicated to make the City of Harlingen a better place to live.
While his earthly body finally succumbed to cancer and complications, that is only part of the story. In the mid 90s, Wally was afflicted with deadly cancer twice. He and Peggy fully believed that his miraculous healing was due to the power of prayer. God blessed him with 17 more years of a wonderful life.
As a father, he was always involved in his kids' school and outside activities. Wally found joy in activities like helping his sons raise animals for 4H and FFA, creating experiences for young boys that never had the joy of camping and hunting, and announcing for the Saturday night horse show at the Harlingen Saddle Club. He was a source of laughter and surprising talents. When his kids were young he became a legend on Crockett Street after the neighborhood kids ganged up on him and tried in vain to beat him in ping pong tournaments. He reigned undefeated.
Just days before passing on, we asked him about his most significant moments. The first thing he whispered was the privilege of teaching a youth Sunday school class in the late 1960s at the First Methodist Church in Harlingen. He said he felt inadequate to teach the class, but just followed along with the study guide and did the best he could.
Wally's civic contributions were many. He was a Harlingen City Commissioner from 1962 to 1966, and mayor pro-tem from '65 to '66. In April of 1976, Wally and Peggy planned a trip to Holland to visit relatives. Bob Youker, Mayor of Harlingen at the time, asked Wally to present a Key from the City of Harlingen, Texas to the Bergemeester Vanmorgan of Harlingen, Holland (the city Harlingen was named after). Wally served on the South Texas Independent School District from 1976 to 1984. He was director of Valley Chamber of Commerce, director of the Harlingen Chamber of Commerce, and served on the Valley Baptist Medical Center Board of Trustees from 1982 until his retirement in 2006. Wally served on the Salvation Army board of directors, on the board of the Harlingen National Bank, and as chairman of Harlingen Planning and Zoning Commission. He was a charter member of Frank Boggus' men's weekly Bible study.
Wally graduated from Sheldon High School in Sheldon, Iowa and tried to join the Air Force. However, during the physical he found he was color blind so he was not accepted. Not yet 18, he decided to begin his studies at Iowa State University while waiting to sign up for the draft when he turned 18 in 1945, at the end of World War II. After basic training, he served in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a year teaching Brazilians how to operate and repair Teletype machines. While there he learned Portuguese.
He was discharged in 1947 and enrolled in the University of Texas in Austin. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in 1950.
Wally moved to Harlingen after graduation and got a job working as a claims adjuster for Charley Fanning (father of the reverend Buckner Fanning in San Antonio) and In October of 1954 opened his own claims office, Van Wyk Adjustment Company. His insurance adjusting workload skyrocketed in 1967 when Hurricane Beulah brought torrential rain and flooding to the Valley.
In January of 1974 Wally purchased Valley Realty Company from F. E. Reinhardt and soon changed the name to Van Wyk Realtors. Starting with only two agents, the business grew to a regional agency with residential, commercial, industrial, and farmland dealings. He built and leased a number of buildings in Harlingen, and owned and operated mobile home parks in San Benito and Harlingen. In the late 1970s, seeing a need for top-notch retail and commercial space, he spearheaded development of the El Mercado shopping center. Wally always considered his real estate investments as investments in the community, making lasting improvements to his part of the world.
Wally was an avid reader, especially of biographies. Part of his morning routine with Peggy was conversation over coffee about what he was learning from the latest book in his library.
Wally and Peggy travelled extensively during their 62 years together. The family has old home movies from the 60s of fun times on South Padre Island, when humble beach houses were just about the only structures there. The whole family went on many RV trips together, around Texas and around the country. Wally and Peggy also had a love of Colorado, and created many years of beautiful memories there. As far back as the early 1950s, they especially loved to venture into the interior of Mexico. Wally spoke Spanish and always had a special place in his heart for immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador.
Visitation will be held Monday, January 27, 2014 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. with the family present from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Buck Ashcraft funeral Home.
A memorial services will be held Tuesday, January 28, 2014, 3 p.m., at Buck Ashcraft Funeral Home with Rev. Bill Reagan officiating.
Memorials can be made to the Mary Lee Foundation (maryleefoundation.org) or the
You are invited to sign the guestbook or leave a memory at www.buckashcraft.com.
Arrangements are with Buck Ashcraft Funeral Home.
Sign the guestbook at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/valleystar/
Published in Valley Morning Star on Jan. 26, 2014