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James Ronald VanderVeen

James Ronald VanderVeen died peacefully at home on Wednesday, November 10, 2010, after a courageous battle with prostate cancer. He was at peace, showing grace and dignity all the way to the end, with his wife and son at his side.

Jim was born August 29, 1946, in Artesia, Calif., the son of Jim and Anne VanDerVeen. He grew up in Southern California, enjoying Tom Sawyer-like boyhood adventures, especially enjoying his horse and riding it bareback in the fields that soon became suburbs and strip malls. Jim also developed at a very young age a love of reading that stayed with him throughout his life, enjoying an eclectic mix of literature. Jim was a strong, athletic young man; he was the tri-county wrestling champion for the Southern California region in 1964, in the heavyweight division. Jim attended Chaffee Junior College, and in 1969, was drafted into the Army as a radio operator.

While stationed in Germany, Jim traveled throughout Europe in a Volkswagen bus with his commanding officer, on a dollar a day plus gas, fully enjoying the experience and the people. After his Army service, he moved to Southern Oregon with his wife and young son. They lived out their dream of living off the land and on a mining claim, located above Hells Gate on the Rogue. Their cabin was a two mile hike just to get to. During that time, Jim earned associate degrees in horticulture and accounting which ultimately created a foundation for a career in landscape construction. Jim designed and installed landscapes for over 30 years throughout the Rogue Valley, planting literally thousands of trees and plants with miles of pipe as well as mentoring many others who now own and operate their own businesses. One probably can't go to any neighborhood in the Valley and not find at least one home or business landscaped by him. Jim never tired of planting things and watching them grow. Although confined to a wheelchair in his last year, he spent every available hour outdoors enjoying the paradise he created in his own back yard with his beloved animal friends, Bridget and Jackie.

On the night of July l5, 2000, he met the woman he had always been looking for, Margie Moir. They were married January 22, 2002, on a sternwheeler on the Colorado River. The two of them fit perfectly, both renewing and enriching each other's life. Her home care was the reason his last months on this planet were filled with joy, and why he was able to live with happiness literally right up to his last breath.

Jim will be remembered by those who knew him as a kind and gentle man who lived a noble life. He was an adventurer and an individualist, truly a one of a kind. He sometimes referred to himself as an oddball, but with pride, a man who thought and lived outside the box. He was well informed on current affairs and political concepts and enjoyed sharing his views while always respecting the beliefs of others. He was a true philosopher and teacher, believing in kindness and humility. He loved nature and cared about the health of the planet and respected all living things. Jim knew how to have a good time and always looked at the sunny side of life. He was a spiritual man who loved God and knew the joy of inner peace. He was full of gratitude for the gift of life. Each day he practiced the meditation techniques learned from his teacher, Prem Rawet, 31 years ago.

Jim took pleasure in many activities, including all kinds of sports, reading, listening to music, attending plays and concerts, traveling, gardening, hiking, walks in Lithia Park, golf, dining out, candlelight dinners at home, luaus in his back yard and spending time with his wife, his son and his friends and family.

Jim is survived by his wife, Margie; and his son, Buck (from his first marriage to Luata Bray). He is also survived by his brother, Bill VanDerVeen, of Phoenix, Ore.; and his sister, Pat VanDerVeen of Riverside, Calif. He was preceded in death by his mother and father; and his brother, Alan VanderVeen.

A private memorial service will be held for Jim followed by burial at the Jacksonville Cemetery. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, either make a donation to a charity of your choice or plant a tree or plant in his memory.

James Ronald VanderVeen