Kenneth James Vandermolen, age 82, passed away Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Kenneth James Vandermolen, age 82, beloved husband, father, brother, grandfather and friend, died on Tuesday, December 25, 2018, surrounded by loved ones at his home overlooking Lake Michigan. Ken was born on January 13, 1936, outside of Milwaukee in West Allis, Wisconsin, to Henry and Irene (Wiersma) Vandermolen and was the oldest of their two children.

Ken’s family moved to Chicago in 1943 during World War II as his father had a critical war occupation as a foundryman. When the war was over, on his father’s way to his hometown of Muskegon, MI, a chance meeting at a coffee shop in St. Joseph led him to a new foundry job. And so in 1946, the Vandermolen history in St. Joseph, Michigan, began. Ken quickly settled in there, meeting some buddies who have been friends ever since. After graduating from St. Joseph Senior High, Ken earned a B.S. at Western Michigan University. He worked at his father’s foundry, the Alloy Foundry Company, after college “while he was deciding what to do,” and enjoyed it so much, he never left. Eventually his brother Bob joined the company as well, and they took it over together when their father retired.

Ken married Anne Leah Irgens, also of St. Joseph, April of 1963, and they were married for 55 years. Aside from his steadfast dedication to work and family, Ken was an avid fisherman, hunter, and nature lover. Along with lifelong friends, he could be found fishing Lake Michigan and other bodies of water from the Great Lakes to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and hunting from Northern Michigan to Germany, as much as the days would allow. He also devoted countless hours to his church, community, and those less fortunate. For example, he was actively involved in the First United Methodist Church of St. Joseph for decades – running the Easter Breakfast for 50 years straight – as well as the Fairplain Lions Club. Ken had a quick sense of humor always at the ready and was a master story teller, and he was as loyal, dependable and fair as the day is long. He will be immensely missed by friends and family alike.

Kenneth is survived by his wife Anne Irgens Vandermolen; his children Julie (Joseph) Beam, Laurie (Robert) Everett and Sheryl (Brian) Bucci; grandchildren Alex, Charlie and Levi Beam, Brendan and Cameron Bucci; and Peter, Julia and Graham Everett; and brother Robert Vandermolen. He was preceded in death by his son Bryan Vandermolen.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held Friday, December 28, 2018 at 11:00 AM at First United Methodist Church at 2950 Lakeview Ave., St. Joseph, MI. Friends and family may visit on Thursday, December 27, 2018 from 5-7 PM at Starks & Menchinger Chapel 2650 Niles Rd., St. Joseph, MI. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Joseph First United Methodist Church. Those wishing to share a message of condolence for the family may do so online at

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