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April 23, 1945 ~ December 13, 2023 (age 78) 78 Years Old
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Lance Vanderzyl passed peacefully in the early evening of December 13, 2023 surrounded by his family. Lance was born April 23, 1945, in Newton, Iowa to Simon Herbert and Ruth Carlson Vanderzyl. Lance was the oldest of 3 brothers. Lance's early years were spent all through Jasper and Marion Counties in Iowa. From an early age he was riding with his father to and from the family coal mine, eventually working summers in the mine with his dad in his teen years. Learning at a very young age the day-to-day operations of mining Lance developed an appreciation for geology and a love of science. He began collecting rock specimens while still in middle school. His collection included several hundred, most of which he still had to this day. Lance graduated from Newton High School in 1963 and entered Simpson College in the fall of that year where he majored in Geology. While at Simpson, he lettered in wrestling and was an active member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.
In 1967 he joined the Peace Corps where he went to the Dominican Republic, there he brought his family's mining skills to good use in assisting in well drilling and heavy equipment operations. In 1969 Lance began his professional mining career in Bisbee, Arizona working for Phelps Dodge as a licensed Geologist.
While based in Southern Arizona he met his wife of 53 years, Gloria Tessman at a dance in Agua Prieta, Mexico. They married in 1970 and went on to have three children. In 1975 Lance moved his family to Spokane, Washington, to work with the Bureau of Mines before making the decision to move back to Arizona to begin work with the Bureau of Land Management in Yuma. Lance eventually left the Bureau of Land Management to take a position with the U.S. Army Proving Ground where he spent the majority of his years working as Director of Tropic Regions Test Center. Lance considered his time at YPG both fun and adventurous, where he traveled extensively to Panama, Trinidad and Tobago and other regions of South America. He made many lasting friendships during his career at YPG.
Upon his retirement from Yuma Proving Ground in 2009, Lance began enjoying early morning walks along the East main canal. Walking for up to 7 miles a day, he eventually transitioned to riding a bicycle. Lance never met a stranger and made many friends on his morning route, stopping to visit with them along the way. He enjoyed long rides from his home to the West Wetlands Park early in the morning up until only 2 years ago. In addition to enjoying his bicycle rides, Lance was an avid ham radio operator. A self-taught enthusiast he studied for and received his official license at the early age of 12, eventually achieving the Amateur Extra Class rating. He was highly proficient in Morse code, a skill he mastered at a very young age and utilized throughout his life.
Most important to Lance was his love for family. His family cherished his wisdom and knowledge about the world, and he enjoyed teaching his 3 children and eventually his 8 grandchildren about science, the outdoors and history. Lance is survived by his wife of 53 years Gloria, children Janessa and (Matt) Thelander of Yuma, AZ; Jared and (Cinthia) Vanderzyl of Gilbert, AZ; and Jeremy and (Jennifer) Vanderzyl of Ahwatukee, AZ, Grandchildren, Mia, Elise, Owen Thelander, Jillian, Julia, Jessa, Ayla and Elissa Vanderzyl, Brother, Tom Vanderzyl of Iowa and niece, Norma Lynn Galindo. He was preceded in death by parents, Herbert and Ruth Vanderzyl and Brother Ralph Vanderzyl.
Services will be Friday, December 29, 2023 at Immaculate Conception Church with the Rosary beginning at 10:30 am and the Mass at 11:00 am.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that you please donate to the Crossroads Mission or Yuma Community Food Bank in memory of Lance Vanderzyl.