Richard Clayton “Rich” VanLanen,72, passed away Saturday August 3rd, 2019 in Huntsville, AL. A Celebration of Life for Rich will be held Saturday August 10th, 2019 at Marshall Memorial Funeral Home at 2:00 pm. Burial will follow immediately after in Marshall Memory Gardens.
Rich was preceded in death by his parents Clayton and Jeanette VanLanen; brothers Russell VanLanen and Donald VanLanen; sister and best friend Virginia “Ginny” Kobylarczyk; and nephew Johnny Kobylarczyk.
Rich was born and raised in Wisconsin, where he lived until attending a Green Bay Packers game with his friends. After the game, he decided it was “too cold” to live in Wisconsin, so he and a couple of friends headed to sunny Florida. On the way to Florida, he got 2 speeding tickets, so he arrived with only $8 in his pocket, but that didn’t deter him from figuring out what he wanted to do with his life.
Rich and his brothers were known as the “VanLanen Boys” in Sobieski, WI. When all 5 boys were together, they created quite the picture. All 5 of the “VanLanen Boys” were big tall men with big personalities. Among themselves, they enjoyed many disagreements, but if you picked on one, all 5 joined together for a formidable foe. According to Rich, he was the “handsome” brother.
Rich was a self-proclaimed “gear head”, so he turned his passion into a business. He owned a local car lot for 15 years where he explored his love for cars. One of his many passions was his love for drag racing. He loved taking a car to the track on Saturday, where he enjoyed testing, tuning and enjoying the camaraderie of his fellow racers.
Rich and his brother Russell enjoyed working together driving semi-trucks and traveling the southeast together. Rich operated the business with Russell, until Russell was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident in March 2009.
Mr. VanLanen married the love of his life Wanda on Valentine’s Day 1986. They had 33 wonderful years as husband and wife. At first, they lived in Orlando where they both shared a love of Harley Davidson’s. Rich and Wanda purchased a home and retired in Albertville, AL in 2014, which he often referred to as heaven.
He is survived by his loving wife Wanda VanLanen of Albertville, brothers David VanLanen of Sobieski, WI and Jeffrey (Peggy) VanLanen of Little Suamico, WI; special friend Christopher McCorkle; special nephew Nicholas Hunt; special brother-in-law Bobby Lewis; 16 great nieces and nephews; and 15 great-nieces and great-nephews.
Special thanks to Crestwood Hospital in Huntsville, N AL Specialty Hospital in Athens and Huntsville Hospital.
The Celebration of Rich’s life will start for friends at 12:00 pm on Saturday at Marshall Memorial Funeral Home. All friends are invited to come and share their memories of Rich.
In lieu of flowers, Wanda requests that donations be made to St. Jude.