Myron, Joseph (Joe) VanDyke died April 22, 2014 surrounded by his family. Joe was born September 20, 1923 to Tillie Metzler/VanDyke/Specht and Myron Obie VanDyke . Joe's father died due to a strep throat at age 26 when Joe was only 13 months old and Joe was raised by his single, working mother until he was 20 years old. Tillie's sister, Anna O'Callaghan, and her husband, James, helped raise Joe, but he also received loving support, encouragement, and, when needed, discipline from both the Metzler and VanDyke sides. He also received support and mentoring from the Jesuit community at St. Francis Xavier Parish and Rockhurst High School and from the Holy Cross community at the University of Notre Dame, all places with which he has had a lifelong bond.
Joe enjoyed sports of all kinds, but particularly basketball and later golf, where he earned the nickname "Chipper" for his struggle with the "short game". He coached his children in sports and was a very loyal fan of his grandchildren and great grandchildren's exploits.
Joe met the love of his life, Maryhelen McGraw, while at Notre Dame and was lucky that she was a hometown Kansas City girl. Joe, like so many in his generation, served his country during World War II, leaving Notre Dame during his senior year to enlist in the Army Air Corps, where he became captain of a B24 Liberator Bomber, and flew numerous missions over Germany. He felt a special responsibility to get all of his crew home from each mission. Among his comrades, he was known as "Padre" because of his deep commitment to his Catholic faith. He joked that his flight crew became increasingly more religious as his plane continued to make it back from successive missions.
Prior to going overseas, he married his true love, Maryhelen. Joe and Maryhelen were married 67 years and together they worked to make a difference in the lives they touched. Maryhelen was a whirlwind of volunteer activity and everyone in the family knew that Joe was truly the "wind beneath her wings."
By the time Joe returned from the war, his Uncle Bill Metzler had died and his mother alone was running the family business, Home Rug Company. Joe's mother Tillie met and married Ernest Specht, a civil engineer with Panhandle Eastern, who became Joe's "Second Dad" and our grandpa. Joe served as best man at their wedding. Joe, who had studied and wanted to be an engineer, adored his mother, so he changed his own plans, and jumped right in and ran the family business with Tillie and various other Metzler and Kammerer family members. For 40 years he was up every day at 5:00 a.m., off to mass and then to work. The business was run as a family business in the best sense of the term with every employee valued and considered part of the family. Christmas parties with Grandpa Specht or Bill Armbruster as Santa remain treasured memories in our family.
All four of Joe and Maryhelen's children worked at Home Rug as we grew up and all of us enjoyed the support and mentoring we received from of every member of the Home Rug family.
In between his business and family obligations, Joe had his personal interests and held a number of leadership positions serving as President of the Serra Club, President of the Sertoma Club, President of the Notre Dame Kansas City Alumni Club and as a Board Member on various Catholic, Civic, and nonprofit organizations. His love for Rockhurst, Notre Dame, St. Joseph Hospital, St. Francis Xavier Parish, St. Thomas More Parish, and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre and the many friendships he made there sustained him throughout his life.
Joe retired and sold the business after Tillie died and Maryhelen had a heart attack in 1984, promising he was going to focus the rest of his life spending time with Maryhelen and his family and doing volunteer work. He kept his word, as usual, and in doing so served as an enduring example to his family and others. He did negotiate enough free time to play golf regularly with his beloved St. Jude group at Blue Hills Country Club and to travel and spend twenty-five years with our mom making a lifetime of great memories for all of his family and friends.
While out to lunch with his children a year after he retired, he was asked if he was bored, but confessed to all of us that "your mom has me busier with her volunteer work than I was last year at the office." As always, he was glad to be her support. Many a cross was hung at St. Joseph Hospital, or "meal on wheels" delivered, or a wheelchair ramp built or other assistance given due to their desire to be "useful."
He and Maryhelen were regulars at wakes and funeral masses to provide support and they kept memorial prayer cards in their prayer books so they would always remember to pray for their deceased friends daily. Dad's lifelong daily attendance at Mass clearly paid off as he died in the early afternoon of his 70th wedding anniversary after informing all of us to cancel his reservations for Taco Tuesday at Bogies because he was going to have a lobster dinner with Mom that night to celebrate.
Joe is survived by four children and their spouses: MaryJayneen and Alan Ross, Michael Joseph and Karen VanDyke, Mark James and Peggy VanDyke, and Joane and Bryan Wilkerson. Joe and Maryhelen switched their nicknames to "Pa" and "Nana" for their fifteen grandchildren and their spouses or fiancés: Amy and Doug Radtke, Mark and Laura Ross, Kristen and Jim O'Connor, Shannon and Nick Perrino, Kevin and Meghan VanDyke, Lauren VanDyke and Randy Weigand, Cory VanDyke, Ryan Vand Dyke and Lauren McGurn, Joseph and Kate VanDyke, Beth VanDyke and Mark Jerome, James VanDyke, Allison and Mike Marchese, Molly and Jason Green, Megan Wilkerson, and Tim Wilkerson. So far there are eighteen great grandchildren (two within the past month, with one more due in four months) including Kyle Radtke, Alexandra Radtke and Mallory Radtke, Emmy Ross, Ryan Ross, Luke Ross and Will Ross, Caroline O'Connor, Meg O"Connor, and Lucy O'Connor; Jake Perrino, Allison Perrino, and Matthew Perrino; Eamon VanDyke and Laine VanDyke (born 4/5/14), Mary Jane VanDyke, Bo VanDyke and "Mystery" VanDyke (due 8/8/14) and Maggie Marchese(born 3/24/14).
We hope to continue Pa and Nana's legacy as we all strive to live up to their example. Hopefully, with a lot of effort, you two can pull the rest of us into heaven.
There will be visitation starting at 9:30 AM on Saturday morning, April 26, 2014, at St. Thomas More Catholic Church at 118th and Holmes Rd., Kansas City, followed by the Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 AM, also at St. Thomas More, followed by a burial in Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Anyone wishing to make a donation in Joe's honor can contribute to the Specht-VanDyke Scholarship Fund at Avila University or to the VanDyke Family Scholarship Fund at Rockhurst High School, or to the charity of your choice.