Clifford Ray Van Belle
June 4, 1937 – August 26, 2021
On June 4, 1937, God made a farmer, Cliff Van Belle, a caretaker of the land and his family. Our precious Dad, Grandpa, Great Grandpa, Brother, Uncle, Cousin and friend was taken into his Heavenly Father’s loving arms on August 26, 2021. We will miss his gentle ways, his kindness, his few words softly spoken, his smiles, humor and the prankster we all knew and loved. Cliff was the first born of Archie and Gertrude Van Belle’s 7 children. He attended the first class of the Sunnyside Christian School, which his parents helped establish, and graduated from Sunnyside High School. He married his high school sweetheart Esther Trusley on March 14, 1957 and together they worked to create their dream home and farm for their family. They remained on their farm all their lives, raising five children and cherishing every family moment with photos and home movies.
Dad was a field crop farmer and loved getting up before dawn, “the best part of the day”, work all day in the fields on his John Deer tractor, and repairing cantankerous machinery with haywire, baling twine and skillful welding, then come home to eat dinner at the bar in his kitchen with all of us. He would be seen speeding around the fields in his Ford pickup like a NASCAR driver, but if you left your keys in your pickup, he’d move it somewhere else for you to find later. He was an award winning farmer, agriculturer, an engineer, a mechanic, biologist, and math genius carrying a notebook in his plaid shirt pocket with the daily masterplan for creating his farming empire. He’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners and would seed, weed, feed, cut, chop, rake, disc and plow and plant and harvest and finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday to attend a late night school board meeting, then put in another seventy-two hours and finish a hard week’s work with a five-minute drive to get to church early for spinning cookies in the snow covered church parking lot. He would still find time to pack up his family for a camping trip, boating and slalom waterskiing, then be a trickster behind the boat standing on a round wooden disk with one of us kids on his shoulders, teaching us to love it. A cowboy himself, he loved being in the mountains on horseback, showing us God’s beautiful scenery, only to be a prankster and pull the bridle off his good buddy’s horse while riding the trails. He loved hunting and fishing and especially enjoyed wintertime playing in the snow climbing hillsides on his snowmobile and hitting your sleds off button while he sped by laughing. He’d take his sons to their motorcycle and snowmobile races, then it would be time to convert his wheat truck to load 7 horses for the 4-H club and haul his daughters to their horse shows and grandchildren’s animals to the fair. He was an athlete teaching his kids the high knee basketball jump shot in Uncle John’s barn, the same place he practiced for the church team. Then it was time to be the number one fan watching all of us “excel yourself” in sports, school and life. When he came in off the dirty fields he would take laps with us in the large water trough we used as a swimming pool. Yes, he was somebody who’d hold a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life “doing what dad does”. An animal lover with a big heart for his loyal dog walking the fields with him. His sweet smile cooing over his great grandchildren. Yes, we were so blessed that God made this farmer, our Dad, who had the biggest heart, an abundance of love, time and care for each and every one of us. Dad, we will miss you so much and we will always carry a bit of you in our hearts!
Cliff is survived by his children Steve & Melody Van Belle, Laurie & Jim Judd, JoEtta & Steve Miller, Karen & Jeff Weinbender, Chris & Sheryl Van Belle as well as 10 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. And, by his sisters Carla & Dick Dixon, Hazel & Fred Schutt, Berti & Tim Stewart, Trudi & Dana Barg along with several nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, his beloved wife Esther of 63 years who passed away a year ago, brothers and sister-in-laws LeRoy & Viki Van Belle and Dale & Debbie Van Belle. The family would also like to thank Dad’s cousin Sue Bos for devoting herself to such wonderful and compassionate care for our parents in their last years.
Viewing and Visitation will be held on Tuesday, August 31, 2021 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Smith Funeral Home, Sunnyside, WA. Private Family Graveside Service will be held at the Lower Valley Memorial Gardens, Sunnyside, WA. Celebration of Life Service will be on Wednesday, September 1, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. at the Sunnyside Christian Reformed Church, Sunnyside, WA. To watch the live streaming of the funeral service go to Suncrc.org then click on watch online. In lieu of flowers those wishing to honor Clifford's memory may contribute to the Sunnyside Christian School. Those wishing to sign Clifford's online memorial book may do so at www.funeralhomesmith.com.
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