Dwayne R. Spence Funeral Home
650 West Waterloo Street
Canal Winchester, OH 43110
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Van Vechten Barndt

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Barndt Van Vechten Barndt, age 65, died February 10, 2016 in Lithopolis, OH. Born December 26, 1950 in Ashtabula, OH. Van was and is our sunshine, our teacher of how to live and love and die. He was endlessly proud of his multiple roles within the extended family - as a son, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, a great uncle, and a friend to everyone he met; he was able to see the beauty in each soul he encountered. He would often declare, soon after meeting someone: "I like that guy!" That became the title of a book his family produced about his life for his 50th birthday in 2000.Van's Down Syndrome inspired the activism of his parents around issues of developmental and other disabilities, starting in the 1950s when the public attitude was one of denial, rejection, and isolation. His mother Laura became a special education teacher in Ashtabula County and his parents Bill and Laura started a school in Jackson, Ohio. They both supported the Disability Ministries of the United Church of Christ, which honored Van at its General Synod in 2001 as an "Outstanding Contributor to Church and Society." His influence on all our careers can be seen through nieces who work with autistic children, with mental health issues, and do life coaching. Van was our life coach. He was a regular participant in sheltered workshops in Columbus, Circleville and Lancaster, and enjoyed bowling and dancing with friends. He worked for many summers as a staff member at Templed Hills Conference Centre near Bellville, where he delighted campers with his friendliness and enthusiastic singing. Van was an integral part of the ministry of Laura and Bill Barndt, in their local and global work through the United Church of Christ, including volunteer missions in Japan and the Philippines, and other social justice causes in the U.S. and Central America. With his dad a minister and biblical scholar, he read, wrote and interpreted passages for present day situations. An active member of Dublin Community Church, First Congregational Church in Columbus and David's United Church of Christ in Canal Winchester, Van offered his passionate monotone voice to a boisterous singing of traditional and contemporary hymns, bringing joy to all those around him. He offered us one last gift of accompanying him on his final journey, singing by his bedside in the home of his sister Kathy and brother-in-law Tom Brownfield, whose loving care nurtured him for the past eight years. The family is forever grateful to them. Celebrating his impact on our lives, in addition to Kathy and Tom, are his brother, Michael (Joanne) of Milwaukee; sisters, Deborah (John) of Toronto and Beth (Jon) Ruthenburg of Evansville, Indiana; and honorary sister, Sachi Onabe of Sapporo, Japan; his nieces, Erika (Théo) Jackson of Carroll, Ohio, Laura (Lance) Collins of Ashville, Ohio, Sarah Ruthenburg of Asheville, NC, Kate (Lauren) Ruthenburg of Evansville, Indiana, Anne (Rick) Bennett of Columbus and honorary niece, Erika Onabe of Davis, California; his nephews, Seth (Suzy) Browne of Lithopolis, Ohio, Joshua Barndt of Toronto; great nieces and nephews, Emily, Lo, Nathan, Wren, Elek, Gabrielle, Lliam, Isabelle, and Natalie. He is remembered fondly by the one remaining uncle, Ed Gifford, Schenectady, NY; and many cousins across the continent. A celebration of the life of Van Barndt will be held at First Congregational Church in Columbus, Ohio on March 19 at 11 a.m. Arrangements by DWAYNE R. SPENCE FUNERAL HOME & CREMATORY, 650 W. Waterloo St., Canal Winchester, OH 43110. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his honor to The Harold H. Wilke Scholarship of the United Church of Christ Disabilities Ministries (http://uccdm.org/wilke-fund/) or the Employee Advisory Council of Fairfield Industries (the model developmental disabilities program Van attended), 4465 Coonpath Rd. NW, Carroll, Ohio 43112. Online condolences at www.spencefuneralhome.com

Published in The Columbus Dispatch from Feb. 13 to Feb. 14, 2016
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