Meredith Dean Van Valkenburgh, known as “Van,” a long-time resident and attorney in The Dalles, Ore., died on August 16, 2016. He was 88. Van was born on September 17, 1927 to Alvin and Osie Van Valkenburgh. He was the youngest of 14 children.
Van grew up in Deer Creek, Okla., population 312. His father staked out the family’s homesteaded farm land in the Oklahoma Run in 1893.
Van served in the U.S. military with the Army Security Agency as an intercept operator, decoding communications. His military duty included time spent with the Japanese Okinawan occupation forces, led by General Douglas MacArthur. Van received the World War II Victory Medal, the Army of Occupation Medal, and was honorably discharged in 1947.
Van’s parents believed strongly in education, and they saw to it that all of their children went to college. Van attended University of Oklahoma, where he met his wife Delores Hatcher. They were married on November 22, 1950. Van was joined in his college graduation ceremony by his mother Osie, who returned to college and received her Master’s degree at the same time. Van graduated from Willamette University College of Law in 1953.
Upon his admission to the Bar, Van moved to The Dalles with his family and began his legal career working as a Deputy District Attorney for Wasco County with Donald Heisler, his brother-in-law, who was then District Attorney. Following his service in the District Attorney’s office, Don and Van established a private law firm and practiced together for many years. Van continued in the private practice of law in The Dalles for over six decades. He served as president of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association from 1980-1981.
In addition to his law practice, Van was active in the community throughout his life. He served 15 years on the Columbia Gorge Community College Board of Education. He was a lifelong member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in The Dalles.
Van was preceded in death by his parents; his sisters Heylin, Ruth, Lois, Alpharetta and Martha Jean; his brothers Norman, Glenwood, Merlin, Paul and John.
Van is survived by his wife Delores of Portland; his sisters Mabel Louise of Maine and Roberta of The Dalles, and his brother Bill and his wife Marilyn of Angola, Ind.; his children, Mark Van Valkenburgh and his wife Joyce of Berkeley, Calif.; Cynthia Kerr and her husband Bill of Portland; Jefry Van Valkenburgh and his wife Erin; Peter Van Valkenburgh and his wife Patricia of Berkeley, Calif.; and Julie Van Valkenburgh of The Dalles; 6 grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
On learning of Van’s death, a dear friend and client from The Dalles whose family had received legal services from Van for three generations commented: “In so many ways, Van embodied all the good things that are to be found in Wasco County.”
Van will be deeply missed by all his family members, friends, and others he touched.
A Memorial Service celebrating Van’s life will be held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1805 Minnesota St., The Dalles, OR on Saturday, October 1, 2016 at 2 p.m.
Our heartfelt gratitidue to all of Van’s friends, colleagues, and providers, especially Hospice of The Gorge, Helping Hands, and the Oregon Veterans Home.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations in Van’s name to: Providence Hospice-The Gorge 1630 Woods Court Hood River, OR 97031 or Meals on Wheels 1112 W 9th Street The Dalles, OR 97058.
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