Robert Joseph Van De Velde, 94, passed away on Tuesday November 12, 2019 at Rock River Hospice and Home in Sterling, Illinois.
He was born in Sheffield, Illinois, on August 11th, 1925, the son of Bruno and Emma Van De Velde, who immigrated to the United States from Belgium in 1887 through Ellis Island. Robert moved with his family to the Tampico area at the age of 5 in 1930.
In 1943, while a senior at Tampico High School, Robert enlisted in the United States Air Force. Assigned to a B-29 Bomber crew in January of 1945, Robert flew 30 missions over Japan from his base on the island of Tinian in the South Pacific, the largest air base in the world as well as the base that delivered the bombs that ended the WWII.
After the war Robert studied at Illinois State University. In 1950, he married Rita Callahan, a schoolteacher, in Deer Grove, Illinois.
Robert had a long and successful career in the distribution of electronics and appliances. He started at the former Hardware Products Company in Sterling eventually rising to become President and Co-owner. At the same time he co-founded and chaired The Crosley Corporation. In 1980 he and Rita moved to Des Moines, Iowa where he established The Velde Distributing Company.
Robert served as a member of the Whiteside County Board for the past 11 years. He also served as an active member of Catholic Charities and for 14 years conducted a local golf outing to provide funds for needy children in the community.
In 2008, Robert became involved in the Honor Flight Program, a program that transports veterans from to Washington DC to view the National Memorials built to honor veterans. Along with Dave Murray, he founded the Whiteside County Honor Flight organization, which has brought more than 400 veterans to Washington, D.C.
Robert loved golfing, reading, and visiting his numerous friends in his spare time. He was an avid sports fan but his heart belonged to the Iowa Hawkeyes, Chicago Cubs, and Chicago Bears.
Robert is survived by his children; Christine Luskin (spouse, Donald), Bruce Van De Velde (spouse, Debbie), Craig Van De Velde (spouse, Deb); six grandchildren (Rourke, Ashley, Trevor, Caitlyn, Sean, and Callahan); numerous nieces and nephews and many close friends
Robert was preceded in death by his wife, Rita, son, Mark; his parents (Emma and Bruno); his sisters, Esther (Fernando) Roush and Dorothy; brothers Harold, Virgil, Joseph and Wallace.
Visitation will be held on Friday November 15, 2019 from 5-7 PM at the McDonald Funeral Home, 505 1st Avenue in Sterling, IL. Celebration of the Mass of Christian Burial at 10 AM Saturday in St. Mary Catholic Church in Tampico, IL. With the reverend James Keenan , Celebrant officiating. Burial with military honors will conclude at St. Mary Cemetery in Tampico.
Donations may be made to Honor Flight of Whiteside County at 315 West 2nd Street, Prophetstown IL 61277