Dr. Jack Vander Wal passed away on August 26, 2017. He was a charter member of Ring 211 — The June Horowitz/John deVries Magic Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He enjoyed magic and the many magic friendships he made over his life. He caught the “magic bug” around eight years old. His father came home with a magic trick from staying in a hotel in Holland, Michigan (His dad worked for the Heinz Company and sold soup to supermarkets. — Had to stay over one time because of gas rationing during WWII.) This may have been the one which caught his first interest. Later, magic tricks were brought home from Abbott’s Magic and Manufacturing Company from his father. This lead to trips to Colon, Michigan. Percy Abbott, himself, taught my father, both his version of the Egg Bag and the Linking Rings (eight rings). My father then would attend the Abbott Magic Get Togethers. My father and mother’s honeymoon was the Abbott Magic Get Together in 1958. He and she attended many. Then he took the family in 1983. He and I then went continuously since 1991. For a good many of those years up to my mom’s passing in 2001, my younger brother and her would join us. Since 2007, my nephew who also caught the “magic bug,” Jesse Shira, joined “Pa Pa Wizard” and me at the Get Togethers.
My dad met the Late Earl Ray Wilcox through his father (when his father later was in the restaurant business as well as Earl). This lead to joining the local magic club in 1969 and being part the club as it became a Ring. He held every office, except for Treasurer. He was the Ring President five times, was the Ring Scribe back in the early years, received the most awards presented by the Ring, offered many a time to perform at club meetings, for a long time was the Workshop Chairman, played the organ for all fourteen Ring 211’s Annual Installation Banquet & Shows and the first few of Ring 211’s Annual Hocus Pocus Parties. Dr. Jack performed an act on the cabaret show of the first twenty-two Annual Hocus Pocus Parties. He performed his close-up at each of the fourteen Annual Installation Banquet & Shows and strolling close-up at each of the past thirty Annual Hocus Pocus Parties. When the club held its board meetings at members’ homes, he volunteered his home. Many great magi presented lectures for the club in his basement known as the “magic cellar” from the 1970s to the late 1990s. Since, the mid 1990s, he offered his back yard for the annual club picnics. He was also a member of the Society of American Magicians in the 1970s to the mid 1980s. He volunteered to sell ads in the S.A.M. 1983 Convention Program when the S.A.M. held their convention in Grand Rapids. He also was an honorary member of the club known as a “hall of famer.” Just recently, in May, he was inducted into the Michigan Magic Day Hall of Fame at this year’s Michigan Magic Day. He was an Order of Merlin Shield and held I.B.M. number 23507.
In the seventies his wife was his assistant and they performed Abbott Magic illusions such as the Temple of Benares and the Zig Zag Lady as part of his banquet show. This act was also featured on one or two of the Installation Banquet & Shows. In fact, he even was performing these two plus the Sword Basket with an assistant for a few Ring 211 events in the mid 2000s.
He was my main mentor in magic. I would not know any other magician nor even be part of this wonder art known as the performance art of magic, if it was not for him. I am very thankful. Thank you, Dad! He will miss the I.B.M. convention in 2018 when it comes to his home town . . . no, he will just have view from above! A Broken Wand Ceremony was presented by Gil Scott and Jeff Brodrick with the wand being painted and prepared by Bill and Julie Rasmussen.
Full Obituary as follows:
Vander Wal, A. Jack. Andrew “Jack” Vander Wal, 82, of Jenison, MI, went to be with his Living Savior and reunite with his beloved wife on August 26, 2017. Jack was a faithfully devoted husband, father, and Christian who had many talents, a zest for life, and a propensity to make others laugh. Jack was born on September 3, 1934 in Grand Rapids, MI. He graduated from Grand Rapids Christian High School (1952), Calvin College (1956), and the University of Michigan School of Dentistry (1959). He married the love of his life, his “Continuous Joy,” in 1958 and they had 5 children across 3 decades, or as he liked to say, “one a decade.” Jack was passionate about and continuously pursued excellence in dentistry, magic, and accompaniment on the piano and organ in church every Sunday. Jack cherished his work as a dentist, practicing 55 years and never officially retiring but transitioning to part time on a mobile unit that served those in elder and foster care communities. Always learning, he took pride in offering specialized services beyond that of general dentistry. Perhaps what he enjoyed most though, were the friendships he made over the years with his assistants and office staff who he affectionately called his “office girls,” relationships he continued up to his passing. As a young boy, Jack became interested in magic and was known to reward neighborhood kids with a magic trick if they could show they didn’t have any cavities (after checking their teeth with his mother’s knitting needles). When he was 12, Jack had his first paid show and has received numerous awards over the years, most recently being inducted into the Michigan Magic Day Hall of Fame. Jack was a founding member of Ring 211 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and held various roles in the “magic club,” still actively participating until his death. “Happy Jack,” as his son Randy called him, made magic a family affair, taking pride in teaching this passion to Randy and grandsons Jesse and Joshua. Jack was equally passionate about playing music, a talent that also began at a young age and continued throughout his life. He began piano lessons when he was 9 and from junior high through college, played the drums in the school band. He had a long history of playing for church functions, weddings, and funerals, but was the most fulfilled on a weekly basis in worship with his church community playing either the piano or organ. Jack’s commitment often included music at 3 Sunday services and he was well known for his thunderous rendition of “Onward Christian Soldiers” where it was common for fellow congregants to stop him after the service to offer their amazement. Family members are heartbroken to lose their “Jack” of all trades but are grateful for their time with him on earth, and are at peace that he is no longer in pain. Jack is preceded in death by his parents, Gerald and Evelyn, and his wife of 43 years, C.J. He is survived by his children Jamie (Jerry) Shira, Randy Vander Wal, Chellie (Karl) Schmitz, Bonnie (Karen) Vander Wal, & Jordie Vander Wal; grandchildren Jozie (Jay) Hayes, Gracey, Jesse, & Zion Shira; Joshua, Chaiah, Bekah, & Amira Schmitz. He is also survived by his sister Billie (Rudy) Prins and brother Jerry (Sue) Vander Wal, as well as nieces, nephews, and cousins. The family is looking forward to welcoming others to celebrate in Jack’s memory on Thursday, August 31 from 2 – 5pm and 6 – 9pm, with a Broken Wand ceremony beginning at 8:30pm at Matthysse-Kuiper-DeGraaf Funeral Home (Grandville) 4145 Chicago Dr. SW. Funeral service will be held on Friday, September 1 at 1pm with the family greeting visitors an hour before at New Community Church, 2340 Dean Lake Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the ALS Association of West Michigan in honor of Jack’s wife, C.J., who succumbed to the disease in 2001. Condolences may be sent online at www.mkdfuneralhome.com.