Thomas Vander Woude, devout Catholic, devoted husband and father to his seven sons was killed while saving his son's life. Joseph "Josie" Woude, a 20 year-old with Down's Syndrome, was his father's constant companion. While helping his father in their yard on September 8, Joseph fell through the cover of a septic tank and Thomas rushed to his side. Unable to pull the young man out, Thomas Vander Woude jumped in so that he could push Joseph out while yelling to construction workers to help pull him out. While waiting for rescue workers, Thomas lost consciousness. Rescuers were unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Joseph Vander Woude was hospitalized with double pneumonia and for a time was on a ventilator. He was released in time to attend his father's funeral in a wheelchair and remained on oxygen. Thomas, a humble and gentle man, was honored at his funeral by 2,000 attendees, the Bishop of Arlington and 70 priests. His son, Fr. Thomas Vander Woude, gave the homily.
The following is his obituary:
Thomas Steve Vander Woude, passed away September 8, 2008.Dear reader, I suggest you consider asking Tom Vander Woude to pray for you the the Lord, our God.
He was born April 24, 1942 in Sioux Falls, S.D. He was the son of William and Gwen Vander Woude, his sisters and brothers are Jim and Bill Vander Woude and Mary (Vander Woude) Oehlke.
On December 26, 1964 he married Mary Ellen Earley. Mr. Vander Woude was a dedicat-ed father and husband. Thomas and Mary Ellen raised seven sons,Tom, Steve, Dan, Bob, Chris, Pat and Joseph.
He dedicated 17 years of service to his country as a pilot in the United States Navy and was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He retired in 2002 after twenty-six years as a commercial airline pilot. He coached all his sons in basketball of various levels, including elemenntary, high school, and college. From 2002 to 2007, he worked as Athletic Director/Coach at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia. He was a dedicated supporter/coach of Seton High School. A man of God imbued with his Catholic Faith, He served with his wife Mary Ellen as sacristans of Holy Trinity Catholic Parish in Gainesville, from 2001 to the present.
Thomas was a loving and selfless husband, father and grandfather, he is survived by his wife, Mary Ellen, his seven sons and five daughters-in-law, Father Thomas P. Vander Woude, Steven and Erin Vander Woude, Dan and Maryan Vander Woude, Bob and Melissa Vander Woude, Chris and Katy Vander Woude, Pat and Jill Vander Woude, and Joseph Vander Woude, and twenty-four grand-children, Mary Kate, Tim, Bridget, Maggie, Tommy, Annie, Jack, Nick, Lilly, Johanna, Monica, Dominic, Daniel, Maria, Elena, Sean, Brendan, Joseph, Joshua, John Paul, Bobby, Michael, Luke and Philip.
The family will receive friends on Sunday, September 14, 2008 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 10 p.m. at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 8213 Linton Hall Road, Gainesville, Va. where mass will be celebrated on Monday, September 15 at 10:30 a.m. Interment Quantico National Cemetery on Wednesday, September 17, 2008 at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers the family suggest donations be made in Memory of Tom Vander Woude, for his wife, Mary Ellen and son, Joseph for their future expenses.
To donate to Thomas Vander Woude's memorial fund to help his wife, Mrs. Mary Ellen Vander Woude, and son Joseph, send checks made out to the "Vander Woude Trust Fund" to:
Holy Trinity Parish
8213 Linton Hall Rd
Gainesville VA 20155-2997