G.N. “Pete” Vander Linden, a former funeral director in Hoquiam, an active volunteer for several community organizations well into his 90s and The Daily World’s Citizen of the Year in 2015, died Saturday in Hoquiam at the age of 97.
Vander Linden, known for his cheerful demeanor, folksy sense of humor and willingness to give his time to community organizations, had lived the past couple of years at Channel Point Village and died at the Pacific Care Center, both in Hoquiam.
He was raised in the Midwest and came to Hoquiam after mustering out of the military in 1946 in Tacoma.
According to a profile on him when he was named Citizen of the Year, he was just married and looking for a job when he took an apprenticeship with Hoquiam’s Pinnick-Coleman Mortuary.
He hadn’t planned to stay in Hoquiam, but put down roots and bought the mortuary in 1964, selling it when he retired in 1986.
When he was still up to it, “he came by constantly to check on us,” said Bob Hyde, one of the current owners of the funeral home and longtime friend and colleague. “He liked things done the proper and correct way.”
“He never knew what a a nine-to-five day was. He would head out the door and the phone would ring.” In this business, “you put your personal plans on hold. Our families, meaning the families we serve, come first.”
For the profile story, his daughter Claire said, “I grew up understanding that the funeral home was there and if somebody needed him over there, that’s where he would be.”
He also found time for volunteerism, He was a stalwart member of the Hoquiam Elks Club and served as its treasurer for many years. He also belonged to the Fraternal Order of Eagles, the Rotary Club and the Harbor Toastmasters.
And he was active in the First Presbyterian Church. Former Mayor Jack Durney, who grew up across the street from the Vander Lindens, remembers his friend’s strong faith helping diffuse a tense meeting at which people had gathered at Vander Linden’s home to talk about something they didn’t like at City Hall. “I remember he started things with a prayer and that got everybody calmed down,” Durney said.
He also remembered his humor. Durney was the master of ceremonies at Vander Linden’s Citizen of the Year banquet and still chuckles at Vander Linden saying, “I was one of seven brothers, and do you know that every one of them had seven brothers, too.”
Vander Linden is survived by one daughter, Claire Lackey of Pasco. His wife Norma died in 2010.
A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday at the Hoquiam Elks Lodge.