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Cornelius (Van) Vandermotten

Oct. 7, 2020 | By slarson

Retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Cornelius (Van) Vandermotten, 87, Basehor, Kansas, passed away peacefully Oct. 1, 2020. 

Van was born June 16, 1933, in Glasgow, Scotland.  His parents were William and Mary Vandermotten, siblings Jean, Frances, Ann, Roderick, Victor, William and Hector, all preceding him in death including two grandsons, Brian Hall and Kyle Lehman, and his best friend Glenda (Gig) Vandermotten.

Van is survived by three daughters, Linda (Ed) Hall of Fulton, Missouri; Janelle (Richard) Heiser of Basehor, Kansas; Connie (Chris) Johnson of Salina; his sister-in-law, who he considered his daughter, Karen Wilcox and her husband Joe Berry of Pratt; five grandchildren, Curtis (Janice) Hall, Stephanie Hall, Brandon (Summer) Harrod, Cameron Harrod, Cody Lehman; great-grandchildren Addy, Hudson, Dallas, Kolten, Boston, and Drake.

Van came to America when he was 18 and joined the U.S. Army in 1953. His assignments included 10th Mountain Division, 82nd Airborne, 15th Field Hospital. He later joined the Kansas Army National Guard, assigned to 137th Infantry as first sergeant and later transferred to the 226th Engineer Company in a full-time position. In February 1963, Van relinquished his enlisted status and became a warrant officer with the 226th Engineer Company, working in many positions including detachment commander. His new rank lead him to be lovingly known by many as Mr. Van.

In March 1975, Van accepted the assignment as the first facility manager for the new federal site, Nickell Barracks Training Center in Salina.  Of all his positions throughout his military career, this was his favorite.  He was determined to put the Kansas Army National Guard on the map by building a reputation as being the best training center in the Midwest.  Also, Van worked tirelessly to bridge the gap and dedicated an enormous amount of time to building community relations with Salina and its business owners.  Although the original Nickell Barracks is long gone, the name Mr. Van will always be engrained in its memory.

Vans service to his community was a high-priority objective of his.  He coached little league baseball, operated as a reserve special agent with the Attorney Generals Office, served as a reserve deputy with the Saline County Sherriff Department as well as full-time duties with that agency.

The defining moment for him, proving that he was the epitome of a respected, highly competent military leader of the finest caliber, was when he was inducted into the Kansas National Guard Hall of Fame in November 2013.

If he was asked what his greatest love was he would say his family.  He was so proud of everyone and bragged to anyone that would listen.

On Dec. 30, 2013, his best friend, Glenda (Gig) Vandermotten, passed away.  Prior to her passing it was decided that they would have a joint Celebration of Life when they both were gone.  The Celebration of Life will be held 12 noon, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, at the Museum of the Kansas National Guard, 125 SE Airport E. Drive, Topeka, KS 66619.  Memorials can be made to the museum.

On-line condolences can be left at

In addition to the Celebration of Life on 16 October, the family is hosting an open house on November 1 for folks unable to attend the Topeka event. 

The address is:
Richard and Janelle Heiser
3401 N. 154th St.
Basehor, KS  66007