CHESTERVILLE — A respected figure within Eastern Ontario agricultural circles and stalwart supporter of his home village of Chesterville, Stan Vanden Bosch will be laid to rest at Maple Ridge Cemetery today.
Despite his evident physical deterioration in recent months, news of 78-year-old Vanden Bosch’s death on Monday shocked and saddened his fellow Rotarians at their annual ‘changeover’ meeting that same evening. As current treasurer of the Club, Vanden Bosch had attended the previous regular session at the Nelson LaPrade Centre as usual with his wife of over 57 years, Betty, just two weeks earlier.
“He was always a great guy, never gets mad, never puts somebody down, and he did a heck of a lot of work for the Club, and I think for the town and the county itself,” said the Club’s immediate past president Jan Roosendaal. “He was a guy, you could leave things with him to get done, and it got done. I think they [the Vanden Bosches] donated a lot of money personally, too … never took any credit for anything and just got things done.”
Roosendaal cited the example of the Club’s grain project, which sees 20 acres of donated land — involving several owners — planted and harvested at no cost to the Club — yielding thousands of dollars for Rotary causes each year. “It was Stan’s idea, and he did it, too. He arranged the seed, he got the chemicals … his company did the work, did the drying, there was never any charge for that, either.”
Vanden Bosch, he also pointed out, was in the forefront in the of the cash-cropping “explosion” that took off locally since the 1960s, an early innovator on the grain storage, drying and elevator scene.
“A great all around guy, and I’m going to miss him, really…. Stan was never first to speak, but if he said something, everybody listened.”
The farmstead where Vanden Bosch and his wife have resided since 1965 (three years after their marriage) may be historically notable as the country residence constructed by Hudson Allison just before he lost his life on the Titanic in 1912. But it’s a testament to their record of achievement that today, the County Rd. 7 address is better known locally as the thriving base of operations for Vanden Bosch Elevators — with its ever-expanding assortment of bins just across the lane — and the home where the Vanden Bosches raised three children after arriving from the Perth area where they fell for each other as teenaged 4-Hers. (Sons Brent and Greg now own the business, while grandchildren Sawyer and Shaye are also employed at the operation.)
During their early years in Chesterville, the Kemptville College graduate also ran a tile drainage business with his late, Dutch-immigrant father, Jan. A vintage sign from that operation was displayed at his well-attended wake yesterday; perched on a John Deere tractor, the fading sign proclaimed, “Tile drainage doesn’t cost, it pays.”
MPP Guy Lauzon lauded the deceased as “a great community supporter, and he was sort of anonymous about doing it. He was a model citizen. He will be sorely missed by the community, there’s no question.”
“He was highly respected by anybody that had any dealings with him,” said Morrisburg-area farmer Arden Schneckenburger. “That would be the number one thing I could say, would be that he’s highly respected. And he and his wife, Betty, when you needed something done, if they said they would do it, they did it. That’s a big thing.”
“He was very active in the farm organizations … he always understood the need for those kinds of organizations.” Vanden Bosch also played regular host to “field days” at his farm to showcase innovations he believed would help others in agriculture,” Schneckenburger added. “Especially things like tile drainage.”
Through the years, the Vanden Bosches have hosted a variety of visitors from around the world at their farm. From Malawi to Belarus to South America, from the presidential palace in Madagascar to Queen’s Park in Toronto, be they politicians, researchers, students or children recovering from the ill-effects of the Chernobyl disaster, all have come and marvelled at their Chesterville operation. Some of these visits have happened in connection with the couple’s long association with the Chesterville Rotary Club, where both have been recognized as Paul Harris fellows (twice in Stan Vanden Bosch’s case) for exemplifying Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self.”
In 2012, he was among the recipients of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
In 2014, his home township of North Dundas recognized Vandenbosch and his wife with that year’s Community Builder Award. The occasion noted their involvement as leaders in Winchester District Memorial Hospital’s successful $16-million ‘Renewing the Vision’ canvassing effort that ultimately rebuilt and expanded that institution.
On the farming front, the Vanden Bosches implemented soil conservation measures through OMAFRA’s land stewardship program more than 25 years ago, since replicated on hundreds of farm operations.
The Chesterville & District Agricultural Society has individually honoured Stan Vanden Bosch (1976) and Betty Vanden Bosch (1977) with the Angus Smith Memorial Award for their work with that organization. In 1979, they received the Dundas Soil and Crop Improvement Association Eric Casselman Award, and in 2011 the Association recognized Betty with the Association’s Award of Merit for her dedication to the Agricultural community.
The Dundas Federation of Agriculture also named the Vanden Bosches as their 2003 Farmer of the Year. That same year, the Ontario Co-operative Association bestowed the Co-operative Lifetime Achievement Award on Stan for exemplifying “leadership, tireless giving of time and energy, diplomacy, perseverance, humility and the ability to bring diverse co-operatives into harmonious working relationships.” He was instrumental in a movement that re-established a number of farmer-owned co-op stores after United Co-operatives went into receivership in 1992.