Obituary for Everett Jan Vanderwende
Everett Vanderwende, 86, of Coupeville, WA, died on January 30, 2018, peacefully at home.
Everett was born on November 20, 1931 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, moving to Heemstede with his mother and sister Attie at an early age. During the Second World War, young Everett went from a 10 year-old boy to a 15 year-old young man who observed his environment keenly. He made cars out of matchboxes, pushcarts from bits of scrap, and he became fascinated by the new machines that were developed throughout that time. Although school was not Everett’s favorite, he pursued a B.S. in mechanical engineering that gave him lifelong passion for function and design.
As post-war Holland was economically depressed, Everett sought out a traineeship in Sweden at the Kopings Mekaniska Verkstad, a manufacturer of high quality lathes and milling machines. Having finished his degree in Holland, Everett returned to Sweden to work for Volvo, where he learned all the phases of making machine tools from grubbing in the black sand of the foundry, running a Red Ring gear shaver, to working in the design department. Everett truly enjoyed living in Sweden and learning the language, with a good quality of life and opportunity for lots of adventures.
In 1955, Everett emigrated to Canada to work for Standard Modern Tools, working on lathes for the automotive industry, and later for McCulloch, maker of chainsaws. We enjoyed listening to tales of Everett on early go-karts with adapted chainsaw engines. Life in North America suited Everett’s sense of adventure with plenty of opportunity and he asked his childhood friend Rita to join him in Canada. Having earlier been drawn to Sweden and Norway by Everett’s descriptions, she once again chose to join him on this new adventure.
Together Everett and Rita then moved to Rhode Island, U.S, where Everett went to work for Brown & Sharpe, from 1959-1973. These were very happy years, where their children, Lucy and Everett Jr. were born and they built a home of contemporary design, with a tremendous organic vegetable garden, avant-garde at the time. The classic Sears tent served the family well as they explored the Northeast and spent many happy summers in Maine.
In 1973, the family moved back to Holland, to be closer to family. Everett went to work for his father’s import and export business in hardwood veneers. Characteristically for Everett, he enjoyed learning about this new world of wood and he enjoyed the travel because of the people he met and the places he discovered. In 1991, at 60, Everett sold the business so that he and Rita could return to the US for their retirement.
Everett and Rita not only dreamed of their retirement, they made it happen. They sold most everything, including their house in Holland, and they bought a motorhome they named L’Escargot. For three years, L’Escargot toured many of the national and state parks of almost every state, a new backyard every few days. They made many friends while traveling and enjoyed showing their guests beautiful landscapes. Eventually though, Everett needed to settle down, to fulfill his dream of delving into woodworking, combining his love of machines and design with his knowledge of wood. With all of the United States to consider, they felt drawn to settle on Whidbey Island and they were so happy to become part of the rich and diverse community of Coupeville.
In 1996, Everett and Rita built a new home, full of light overlooking Penn Cove, designed by their son Everett Jr., an architect from Holland. They marveled over Coupeville’s natural beauty, watching the eagles soar over Penn Cove and admiring the hummingbirds’ speed and dazzle. Grandchildren came to play, Shefali and Kiran from Sammamish, Mark and Chris, who visited every summer from Voorschoten, the Netherlands. Everett was to be found in the workshop that he was building; a new project was an occasion to purchase a new tool, i.e., a new toy. Everett built most of the furniture for their new house and then made beautiful toys for the grandchildren. His knack for solving problems elegantly was tremendous and he was always eager to teach and to share his enthusiasm with others.
In 2010, after 50 wonderful years, Everett lost Rita to cancer. It was at this time that Everett made a most courageous decision to reach out to his friends and neighbors in Coupeville and to become a volunteer at the Chamber of Commerce, where he reveled in being able to speak French, German and occasionally Swedish again. Everett cooked using “cooking for engineers” and he learned to host dinner parties. As he had been a voracious reader all his life, Everett was a fount of knowledge about not only engineering but also history, economics, and how to plan a trip in U.S. or Europe.
And Everett kept learning! Everett took the time to pursue whatever piqued his curiosity and it is this quality that many find most inspiring. He learned about energy generation, renewable energy, German stamp collections, sailing ship publications. On a trip to France, Everett fell in love with ritual masks and decided to learn about the cultures and craftsmanship through re-creating those same masks. Everett’s mask collection, with explanations, was on exhibit at the Art Institute in Coupeville; he continued to make new friends as he explored the various aspects of mask making.
We remember Everett for his curiosity, his fine craftmanship, his friendship, his respectful discussions and philosophizing, and his warm smiles and easy laughter.
Everett will be missed by Lucy and her husband, Arul; Everett and his wife Helma; Everett's grandchildren, Shefali, Mark, Kiran and Chris; and dear family and friends from all over the world.
There will be a reception for friends and family in the Whidbey Island Nordic Lodge Hall, 63 Jacobs Road, in Coupeville, Saturday, February 10th, 2018, from 10-12. Family and friends are encouraged to share memories and condolences at www.whidbeymemorial.com.