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Death of Life Member Don VanderMolen

We were saddened to learn of the passing of one of our Life Members, Don VanderMolen.
He passed away Thursday, September 8, 2016 at his home in Prudenville, Michigan.


A man dedicated to promoting an interest in photography...
by Tom McCall

Don joined The Twin City Camera Club in 1973 and was very active, serving the club in many capacities, chairing or participating in various committees, holding several club offices, including Secretary, ViewFinder Editor and serving as President for five years, then as Past-President until he retired and moved.  Don helped with the Travel and Adventure Series and actively competed in Prints, Film Slide and Digital Slides through the years, receiving many awards including the 1975 and 1981 Point Champion in Slides and the 1980 Slide of the Year award.  Don was an excellent photographer and continued to compete in Class A Color Digital Slides after he moved and although he had been ill for a good part of the past year, competed in a lot of last season.

Don was always an active participant in club functions and activities, helping where ever he could.  He assisted in projects around the building with cleaning, painting and repairs.  Don helped with the set ups and tear downs before and after our club functions, picnics and Awards Banquets.

Don was named "Man of the Year," recipient of the Henry A. Valerius Memorial Man of the Year Award in 1983.  It was in recognition for "Outstanding Achievement in Promoting the Goals of the Twin City Camera Club." 

In the film slide days, he assisted in preparing, presenting and/or the narration of our annual multi-projector film slide shows.  I remember him presenting classes for us on the Color Key process for film slides.  I remember in the 1990's, after a monthly competition night, Don approached me and asked me to examine two (2) identical photographic prints.  When I said I couldn't find any difference in them, Don explained and identified one of the prints as an ink jet print that he had printed on an ink jet printer at home.  It wasn't much time after that and our competition rules were modified to permit ink jet prints in competitions.  Prior to that, we had to develop our own film and make our own photographic prints.  If I remember it correctly, I believe Don was the first member to scan film slides and make computer ink jet prints for competition.

Don was really into nature and knew the scientific names for plants and flowers.  That was one of the things I used to joke with him about, because he titled his flower photos with scientific names and most of us couldn't pronounce them.  I think some of the time he did it just to get the reaction he got from us.  He was my go to guy when I needed help to identify wildflowers and he created wildflower guides for us that we still use today.  Don always helped out with our wildflower field trips and after he moved he would do it all, set up the field trip, including places to stay, places to eat and do advance scouting of where the best wildflowers could be found. 

  Don was one of our Southwestern Michigan Council of Camera Clubs (SWMCCC) Representatives since the mid-1970's.  He always promoted the SWMCCC Conferences and competitions, helping more of us to get involved and enter in the competitions.  He promoted TCCC to them and SWMCCC to us.  He attended as many SWMCCC meetings and Conferences as he could. 

Don received the SWMCCC Gold Award in a slide division, achieving over 100 points during the semi-annual competitions.  This was one (1) point for an Acceptance and two (2) for an Honor, for a maximum of Eight (8) points at any one competition.  So it took skill, dedication and perseverance and a lot of years to reach the Gold Award level.  Don would provide us with the SWMCCC standings so we could see what our point level was and then encourage us to participate more.

In 2003 Don was named Vice President of Education and Chairman of the SWMCCC Summer School, a position he held until his death. 



  PSA Honor of Associate (APSA) Presentation

In July of this year, during the SWMCCC Summer School, Don was awarded a PSA Honor of Associate (APSA).  Photographic Society of America representative, Gerald Emmerich, Jr, HonPSA, GMPSA presented Don with an APSA (Associate) honors plaque with a citation that read as follows:

This is to certify that Donald VanderMolen has been elected Associate for his outstanding long-time service and dedication to local photography organizations, including service to the Southwestern Michigan Council of Camera Clubs (SWMCCC) as Vice President of Education and as Chairman of the SWMCCC Summer School of Photography; service to the Twin City Camera Club as President, Secretary, Newsletter Editor, and SWMCCC Representative; and service as judge, workshop leader, and program presenter for camera clubs in the southwestern Michigan area.



This was a very special Honor and I have mixed emotions about it.  Because we as a club, one that Don has devoted so much, were unable to Honor him for it before he died.  He really deserved this honor and I'm very glad that he was able to be there to receive it.  I know it meant a lot to him.


Since their move, it was always great to be able to see and talk with Don and Jo Ann at the TCCC Awards Banquets. 
Unfortunately, due to health issues they haven't been able to attend the last couple of years. 
We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Jo Ann and to all of their family and friends. 
Don was a real gentleman, one of the good guys and he will be missed.       



 Donald R VanderMolen
July 20, 1941 - September 8, 2016

Donald R. VanderMolen, age 75, of Prudenville passed away on Thursday September 8, 2016 at home with his loving family by his side.

Don was born July 20, 1941, in Kalamazoo, to Kobe and Elizabeth (Rynbrand) Vander Molen.  He received his master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1964.  He married Jo Ann Kalbfleisch on June 13, 1964, in Detroit.  The couple moved to Stevensville, where he worked for Whirlpool Corp. for 35 years in research and development.  The couple retired to Prudenville 10 years ago.  Don was a member of the Houghton Lake United Methodist Church, lifetime member of Twin City Camera Club in St. Joseph and for 14 years was chairman of the Southwestern Michigan Council of Camera Clubs, Summer Weekend of Photography, held at Hope College.  He enjoyed photography, especially nature and travel.

Don is survived by his loving wife of 52 years Jo Ann VanderMolen of Prudenville, daughters; Kathryn (Gary Harms) VanderMolen of Prudenville, Janice (Michael) Graves of Gladwin, grandchildren; Madelyn Graves, Ian Graves, Elizabeth Harms and Devon Harms, sister Dicie (Kenneth) Sizemore of California.  He was preceded in death by his parents.

There will be a private family service.  Burial will be in Riverside Cemetery in Kalamazoo.  You may express your condolences to the family through a memorial to the Houghton Lake United Methodist Church and at

 Christler Funeral Home-Prudenville Chapel is handling the arrangements.





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