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Obituary: Bernard J. Van Hoorn - KBZK.com | Continuous News | Bozeman, Montana

Obituary: Bernard J. Van Hoorn

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Bernard J. Van Hoorn (Ben) passed away May 23, 2017 at the age of 97.  Ben was born in Bozeman in 1920, the second son of George and Marie (Blomer) Van Hoorn.  He attended school at Valley Center for six years and graduated from Belgrade High in 1938. 

Ben enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserves during WWII, and served 19 months before being honorably discharged.  He farmed with his father for a number of years and then purchased an interest in Harrington’s Home Appliances and was a partner with Frank Harrington until 1967 when he sold his interest to Frank.  He was employed at Security Bank Development Technology and Summit Engineering before retiring in 1979. 

Ben married a Bozeman widow, Rose Mary Molitor, on December 30, 1964.  They spent their winters in Yuma, Arizona after retirement.  Rose had two full-grown daughters that Ben adopted, Georgia Taylor of Billings (deceased) and Christine Moyer of Golden, Colorado.  In his words, they treated him with love and respect.  Rose Mary preceded him in death in January 1998.  One year later, his brother, Henry (Hank) Van Hoorn passed away in January 1999.

Ben spent the winters playing pinochle with other seniors and working on his daily crossword puzzles (which he always finished).  In his younger years, he enjoyed fishing and hunting, and he had a great love of the outdoors.  He enjoyed shooting pool, playing cards, crossword puzzles, and board games.  Ben was a member of the Bozeman Elks Lodge for many years. 

The last survivors of the four siblings is his sweet sister, Marie Mikkelson of Olathe, Kansas.  He is also survived by his wife and helpmate of 18 years, Cassandra; Rose’s daughter, Christine Moyer of Golden, CO and her two sons, Rob and Ron Parke of Colorado; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Rob has many fond memories of summers the boys spent trailer camping with Ben and Rose.  Grandpa taught him to fish and they panned for garnets and dug sapphires.

Ben was a lifelong member of Holy Rosary Catholic Parish and he practiced his faith diligently.  He was a charter member of the Octogenarian Society organized by Frank Harrington.  The group gathered for coffee and donuts weekly.  In his eighties, Ben wouldn’t consider joining the Bozeman Senior Center because it was “full of old people”.  When he found out they were starting to play pinochle, he became a member, joining the group and spending many happy hours with friends.

With a long history of falling, in June 2012 he entered Bridger Rehab with a crushed shoulder.  Dr. LeGrand predicted extremely limited use of that arm.  With the excellent physical therapy staff, he had 90%-95% use of that shoulder and arm.

Ben remained a resident in the long-term section of what is now called Bridger Healthcare Community, where he received much care and compassion from staff and residents.  About a year ago, a 66-year-old man came to Bridger following a stroke.  He looked out for Ben and it was almost as if Carl Castano could read Ben’s mind and knew what he needed.  He looked out for Ben like a brother would.  Ben introduced Carl as his “friend”.

A few weeks ago, while his wife was cutting his hair, she had a feeling it would be for the last time.  He had trouble lifting his head up and told her he was “fading”.  When asked if it was okay, he answered “yes”.  They had discussed this subject numerous times over the past few years.  The St. Jude pacemaker that Dr. Erb implanted eleven years ago kept his body going until Ben’s spirit said it was time to meet his beloved Rose.

On Saturday, Ben’s spirit seemed to be hovering as his wife sat beside his bed.  He was resting comfortably sleeping when she left at noon.  Under the watchful eye of two nurses, he took his last breath at 5:28 pm, relaxed, peaceful, and ready for his journey.

Ben’s Funeral Mass will be held Wednesday, May 31, at 11:00 am at Holy Rosary Parish with Father Leo Proxell officiating.  Recitation of the Rosary will precede the service at 10:45 am.  Interment will take place at Sunset Hills Cemetery.

Ben has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Salvation Army, 32 S. Rouse Ave., Bozeman, MT  59715.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service.  www.dokkennelson.com

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