Frank Vander Hagen, 88 passed away peacefully having lived a full, beautiful life. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Margaret (Van de Walle) Vander Hagen; their daughters, Pamela Lamb (Robert), Laura Baxley (Glen) and Cynthia Parrish (Michael); granddaughters, Melanie Hill (Doug) and Megan McCrea (Richard); and sisters Eleanor Vander Hagen and Elaine Pyclik (Alex). He is preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Elsie Breit and Evelyn Cates; and brothers Edward, Larry and William Vander Hagen.
Frank was born in South Bend, IN to Alfonse (Frank) and Mary (De Meyer) Vander Hagen. Though not ‘officially’ a junior, he was also known as June or Junie, a nickname given to him early on. He was a family man from the beginning and always maintained a close relationship with his brothers and sisters.
It was his older sister, Elsie that bought him his first set of drums. He even started in a band as a drummer while in high school at Washington High (South Bend). His love of drums eventually led him to the love of his life, Margaret. It was a fellow band member that introduced them and their first date was at one of his gigs.
Within a year, on April 23, 1955 he and Margaret were married. He worked with Margaret’s father doing mill work and a variety of handyman duties, meanwhile developing a skill and love for wood-working. During their first 10 years of marriage, they welcomed their three daughters, Pamela, Laura and Cynthia.
He eventually began a job with Western Southern and Life where he had a fulfilling, 32 year career. A promotion with the company was what brought them to Rockledge, FL in 1965. Though he physically left South Bend, he carried with him a love of Notre Dame football (Go Irish!) everywhere he went.
While material possessions were never a factor for him, he did take great pride in his new Florida house because to him, it represented so much more: security, love and “home”. The neighbors there quickly became lifelong, family friends.
When not working, his early years in Florida were spent raising his family, playing the drums in various gigs around town while his family and friends would come watch and of course, taking care of his home. He was a member of St. Mary’s Church for more than 50 years where he served as a Parishioner and greeter/usher while wife, Margaret helped man the religious articles booth. He was also a Lifetime Member of Knights of Columbus, Council 6125.
After retiring from Western Southern Life in 1992, he spent his mornings doing title, tag and bank runs for Paradise Ford. For more than 20 years he could be seen driving around town in his navy blue, Ford Ranger, befriending many of the local title and tag clerks and bank tellers in the community.
He spent the rest of his time playing bingo and wood-working or sipping coffee in his green rocker at the edge of garage where he would wave to all of the neighbors as they passed by. Frank mastered the art of “replication” with his wood-working as his girls would take photos from magazines and ask him to recreate the pieces. He worked tirelessly to perfect whatever it was they wanted. His home, and all of theirs, are filled with handcrafted, wood-working projects personally stamped by Frank.
Though he had many accomplishments, to Frank, there was none greater than his family. His wife, Margaret was the light of his life- and he was equally hers. Through 63 years of marriage, they did everything together, most importantly raising their children and grandchildren. Regardless of any health or physical limitations, they found a way to always hold hands- right until the end. It is their faith, love and support that has served as the foundation of the family.
Pam, Laurie and Cindy were always daddy’s little girls regardless of their age. He was the ultimate provider and protector. During their lives he was their Uber driver, car mechanic, babysitter for Melanie and Megan, plumber, electrician and he was great at comic relief.
He played a crucial role in the lives of his Granddaughters, Melanie and Megan. Known simply as “Pa” to them, anyone who knew him or them could quickly see the special bond they shared. When they were young, he would be “treated” to their pedicures and even sport painted toe nails for days because they wouldn’t let him take it off. As they grew up, he was promoted to being their personal chauffeur, carting them around town for various activities.
Each of his girls sought a love like that of their parents, looking for a guy that had traits like their Dad and Pa. They all found just that. Each of his son-in-laws and grandson-in-laws won a place in Frank’s heart and each of them admired so much.
During the last 2.5 years, Frank and Margaret resided at Town Square Assisted Living in Viera. Though his heart was never far from his Rockledge home, he loved being there. In his final months, the Town Square family, along with his care takers have shown an immeasurable amount of care and compassion. We will be forever grateful for them.
Each of his girls would claim to be his favorite but he would never admit to having one. He always made them feel so special with his “well, don’t you look pretty” welcomes and his peepkins (little kisses). Though he spoiled them to no end, he was equally doted on in return.
Despite his quiet and gentle nature, he’ll be remembered for making you laugh with his corny jokes and light-hearted personality. Polite, kind and generous are words that best summarize who Frank was.
To the best Husband, Dad, Pa and friend to all... may you Rest In Peace. You will forever be in our hearts and the hearts of many.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Mary's Catholic Church and Wuesthoff Hospice.
A Visitation will be held January 23, 2019 from 10 - 11:00 am with Services following at 11:00 at Beckman Williamson Funeral Home, 5400 Village Drive, Rockledge (Viera), Fl 32955. A Celebration of Life Reception will be held immediately following at Knights of Columbus, 3435 S. Fiske Blvd., Rockledge, FL 32955