John Van Stechelman
John Henry “Van, Jack” VanStechelman left the physical plane of his earthly existence and joined his maker in heaven on May 19, 2023. He was born on the 23rd of April, 1938 in Henry County, IL. There he was raised on a farm with a brother and two sisters, having graduated from Atkinson High School where he was ranked 3rd in his graduating class and was a stellar high school athlete. From these humble beginnings, he enlisted in the Air Force in Minot, ND where he served for four years. During that time, he met his wife to be, Janice Marie Erickson, and they were subsequently married at St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Minot on August 6th, 1960. Once honorably discharged, the two settled down in Minot where they started a family, and Van a career as an insurance salesman for American National Life Insurance Company.
Three kids later they pulled up roots and moved to Green Bay in 1966 where Van continued his work at American National and made a home on Neufeld St., while also becoming a parishioner and usher for his newly adopted Catholic Church, St. Agnes. In Green Bay he added three more kids for a total of six, though two others had passed along the way having been prematurely born. With six kids to raise, he had a tall task in front of him!
As luck would have it, he also ended up next door to the famous middle linebacker for the Packers, Ray Nitschke, and became a diehard fan. He enjoyed entertaining friends and relatives for home Packer games. He was also an avid fisherman and had many fishing buddies over time who shared this passion with him. Some fifteen years into his time in Green Bay, his insurance company went belly up and he found employment at the Green Bay Area Visitor and Convention Bureau where he did sales and promotion for the various shows put on there for twenty-five years until his retirement.
While in Green Bay and inspired by his faith and want to provide for his kids, Van was significantly involved in a number of local service organizations. He received a 50 year service award from the West Side Lions Club, he was on the Board of Directors at the Curative Rehabilitation Center for several years, he held all offices including president of the West Side Youth Hockey Club while his kids played, he also coached their 5th and 6th grade basketball teams at Jackson Elementary School for eleven years, he was their Cub Scout leader for the local pack, he was active in both the Parents Club and Sentry Club at Premontre High School, he was part of West High School’s Booster Club, and at his beloved St. Agnes Parish he was part of the Men’s Club, Galley Crew, a 50 plus year usher, and helped organize the church’s annual summer picnic and other events where he found his greatest sense of community, and of course his kids became his work crew for those events as well.
Van joins in heaven his wife Janice, his first born son, John Jr., his third born, Joel, fourth born Jeffrey, and fifth born, Jerry; two younger sisters, Sylvia (Dewayne) Taets and Joy Johnson and is survived by one younger brother, James (Lorna) VanStechelman.
Those who survive Van are his son Jay (Abigail Wright) VanStechelman, his son Jon VanStechelman, his daughter-in-law Monique VanStechelman, his daughter Jennifer (Tom) Bacon, his son James (Shelly Meisner) VanStechelman; grandkids, Karuna (Brad Binder) Batcha, Violet Batcha, Jamie (Dante) Sabel, Stephany Lass, Karstin VanStechelman, Haley (Cody) Gille, Athena VanStechelman, Emersyn Sundstrom, Branden Beekman, Codey (Shelby) Beekman, Jaden Bacon, Justin Bacon, Kaila VanStechelman and Kalanai Jandrin. He also leaves behind several step grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
Van’s greatest joy in this world was his kids and grandkids and all the multitude of step kids and kids’ friends who visited the VanStechelman household over the years! It is with great sadness, appreciation, and love for him that they show their gratitude for the many years of his generosity and mentorship to them!
Visitation will be held from 9:30 to 10:50 a.m. Friday, May 26th at St. Agnes Catholic Church, 1484 Ninth St. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. Friday at the church with Rev. Patrick Beno officiating. Burial will be in Fort Howard Memorial Park. Proko-Wall Funeral Home is assisting the family and online condolences may be sent to www.prokowall.com.
Jeane Smits is serving the family.