I am sad to report that Ron Van Gelderen has passed.

Started by veesixteen, February 23, 2016, 01:44:29 AM

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Gita and I mourn the loss, last night, of a dear friend in Ron Van Gelderen, twice President of our illustrious Cadillac Club. He and I corresponded regularly, about Cadillacs and other pleasantries, starting in 1972; I can’t believe it has been almost 42 years. Ron honored us with two visits to our home in Bellevue, near Geneva. On one such occasion, in 1974, we took him to Mâcon, France, to have a close look at a rare, 1937 Cadillac roadster with a custom body by Hartmann; he was excited, to say the least; at that time, however, the owner was not quite ready to sell his treasure. The souvenir photos, attached, are from that visit.

One of our fondest memories followed Ron’s kind invitation to join him in Virginia on the first of many trips we made to America, starting in June 1978. We have always ranked him at the very top of the great and grand “Cadillac family” of which Gita and I became members in 1972. Our last visit with Ron was at Amelia Island in 2012. We will very much miss him as a very dear friend and as one of the seniormost experts on Cadillac automobiles. RIP, mon ami.
Yann Saunders, CLC #12588
Compiler and former keeper of "The Cadillac Database"
aka "MrCadillac", aka "Veesixteen"


Our President's letter should have appeared at the top of the attachments. Sorry.

Two of the B&W images were taken over dinner in Bellevue, Geneva; on Ron's left is our sweet ex-neighbor, Dixie, from America; we had her make the English-speaking foursome.

In the third B&W snapshot, Ron is admiring my collection of scale-model Cadillacs, in company with Gita. The color photo was taken by Ron in 1974 (hundreds of pics of that car, in various stages of restoration, have popped up since it was "recovered" in a field near our home, in 1965.
Yann Saunders, CLC #12588
Compiler and former keeper of "The Cadillac Database"
aka "MrCadillac", aka "Veesixteen"

Walter Youshock

Sad news indeed.  Ron was the senior statesman of the club.  A great loss to us all.
CLC #11959 (Life)
1957 Coupe deVille
1991 Brougham

Ralph Messina CLC 4937

1966 Fleetwood Brougham-with a new caretaker http://bit.ly/1GCn8I4
1966 Eldorado-with a new caretaker  http://bit.ly/1OrxLoY
2018 GMC Yukon


Jay Friedman

My wife Elaine and I send our sincere condolences to Ron's family.  We knew him well when he lived here in Georgia and visited him at his home in Dalton several times. 

Ron will be remembered for his profound knowledge and love of Cadillacs and, as Yann mentioned, for his many contributions to the Cadillac & LaSalle Club.  He joined the club in 1962, organized the Potomac Region in 1968, became a national board member in 1970 and then served four terms altogether as president.  Among his many accomplishments as president Ron initiated the club having several regional vice-presidents and created several of the CLC national awards. 

Ron owned many great Cadillacs and LaSalles.  At various times he had a total of six V-16s, various other late '30s and early '40s Cadillacs, two '34 LaSalle coupes, a fabulous '40 LaSalle Series 52 convertible and others too numerous to mention.  I especially remember his Madeira Maroon '49 Series 62 Club Coupe, which I think won Best of Show at a Grand National in the late '90s. 

Ron will also be remembered for being an outstanding author.  He contributed many articles to the Self-Starter, was involved in the erstwhile Self-Starter Annual for many years and was the co-author of LaSalle: Cadillac's Companion Car.  In addition, Ron was a highly skilled photographer and I especially remember a photo shoot he organized some years ago of our two '49 Club Coupes together which appeared in the Self Starter.

A great loss to the CLC.

1949 Cadillac 6107 Club Coupe
1932 Ford V8 Phaeton (restored, not a rod).  Sold
Decatur, Georgia
CLC # 3210, since 1984
"If it won't work, get a bigger hammer."

Barry M Wheeler #2189

During our annual judging of unrestored cars at the various GN meets, I usually drove the golf cart that enabled us to check cars from one end of the show field to the other. We would set out and (possibly) judge one or two cars, before someone would come up to us and start Ron talking. Ron would get through speaking to that person, and start to get in the cart and someone else would want to talk to him "for just a minute." When it was just "him and me" starting the judging, it took forever to get done because everyone wanted to talk to him.

The first time I "met" him...Never did get close enough to speak to him... was at the Carnival of Cars in Detroit in 1965. About two o'clock in the afternoon, a bright green 1939 V-16 coupe with an extended trunk attached to the rear drove onto the field. It was immediately surrounded by on-lookers. Ron had arrived with the Dr. Brinkley "Goat-gland" car.

When I was President, we were having a Board Meeting, and Ron came up with a proposal for improving the S/S, This was the dawn of the "Black-cover era." He had assembled SIX MONTHS of print ready magazines in a bold, entirely new format. Needless to say, the Board approved the change in short order.

At Board Meetings, Ron always had something to say, and everyone always stopped to listen, as his thoughts were worth paying attention to. I cannot recall any instance where his thoughts were not in the best interests of the Club.

I followed him as President. I am typing this through tears as I think about the pleasant years I knew him. He was always supportive to me, and indeed, to all those Presidents that followed. He had a great knowledge of Cadillacs and LaSalles. My copy of the LaSalle book is inscribed by both authors, not only with their signatures but prose filling both fly leafs. I'm proud that they both had that much to say about their relationship with me.

Gay and I met up with him on a walk at the Denver GN. He was moving quite slowly even then as his illness ravaged his tall frame. He always had a hug for Gay and a bright smile for me. At the 1991 GN, it started to rain. He was sitting in the 1941 60S, and somewhat reluctantly, opened the passenger door and let me in out of the shower."Well, it was "just done" and this was the 50th anniversary year for the car... " I don't recall taking my shoes off, but I'm sure it ran through his mind.

Ron had many, many Cadillacs and turned to LaSalle late in his collecting life. Along with Matt, he "wrote the book" about LaSalle. I'm sure he made many sacrifices when he had to purchase material needed for the book. He'd buy a car, and then have to sell it to raise money for another.

He pitched in where needed. I remember at the 1980 "First" meet at the Speedway. He was bare-chested, parking cars on the infield. He loved our Club. He served it well.

Ron, you were a Hell of an act to have to follow. Sleep well, my friend.
Barry M. Wheeler #2189

1981 Cadillac Seville
1991 Cadillac Seville

Vince Taliano #13852

Ron was a co-founder of the CLC Potomac Region in 1969 (see below).  We are so sorry to hear about his passing.

As the name suggests the Potomac Region is based in the Washington, DC area, also serving the state of Maryland and Northern Virginia.  Tracing its origins to 1969, the Potomac Region was one of the earlier active Regions in the East.  In the summer of 1968, two brothers, Richard and Steven Sisson, answered a classified ad in The Washington Post for Cadillac parts being disposed of by the widow of a Mr. Lineback in Silver Spring, Maryland.  He had owned several 1938-40-era Cadillacs.  After being led to the parts stash in the basement, getting near the parts proved a little bit difficult due to a certain Ron VanGelderen rummaging through them.  Actually he was more going back and forth, loading the trunk of his car with the best goodies.  After quick introductions, the search was on for anything that might be useful for the 1946 Cadillac Convertible that Steven was then restoring.  Ron asked Richard and Steven about any cars that they might own, and in turn they learned that Ron owned a small fleet of four or five collector Cadillacs and that he had recently transported to McLean, Virginia from Chicago.  They invited Ron to their Dad’s nearby home where Steven’s 1946 Convertible was resting.  Talking there, they were amazed to learn that Ron had come from a very active Cadillac - LaSalle Club (CLC) region in Chicago and had already become distressed to learn that there was no active local CLC region in the Washington, DC area.

A few weeks or a month later, Ron called Steven and asked if he could come up with a mailing list of interested Cadillac fanciers in the area.  Steven said “yes” because he was a member of the local AACA Region and CHVA Region and knew a lot of people.  He did come up with a list of names and forwarded them to Ron, who along with his wife Sherie, hosted a meeting in January 1969.  Pictured above are the attendees arriving in their classics for the historic meeting.   On that cold but sunny day, Ron’s neighborhood was transformed into an Apalachin, New York scene circa 1957 when Mafia bosses from all over arrived in their Cadillacs for a historic sit down.

Unlike the Apalachin get-together, the vintage cars did not cause suspicion resulting in the arrival of the State Police at the residence.  Below are the attendees, the Potomac Region's founding members!

Pictured Left
L to R Standing - Martha Jane Kennedy, Fred Westenberger, Earl Broyles, Juan Aranda, C. P. Johnson, Robert F. Schilling and Ralph Pekins
L to R Kneeling - Zane Griner, Elwood Brown, Steven Sisson and Richard Sisson

Pictured Right
L to R Standing - George G. Teebay, Sue Teebay, Mike Smith, Sandy Smith, Cari Davis, Akin T. Davis, Glen Cole, Pat Cole, Bryce Frey and Nancy Frey
L to R Kneeling - Ron VanGelderen and Sherie VanGelderen

Ron led the meeting and announced that he wanted to get a local Region started.  He also came up with the idea of having CLC meets at Turkey Run Park in McLean, Virginia in the Summer and Fall of 1969.  The first shows were a lot of fun and some 12 or so cars were shown. 

Soon after, a Region planning meeting was held and after some discussion, it was decided that the Region would be called Potomac and Steven Sisson would be its first Director.  The first order of business was to apply to the National CLC for provisional status.  After helping to form the Potomac Region, Ron VanGelderen later served as National President of the CLC (1972-1978 and again from 1984-1986).

Here is a picture of Ron speaking at the 2007 Legacy of LaSalle Car Show at Capitol Cadillac.  Along with Matt Larson, he co-authored the most comprehensive book ever written on LaSalles.


He will be greatly missed.


Vince Taliano
CLC Potomac Region
www.clcpotomacregion.org (view over 3,000 pictures!)

Peter Nieuwlandt

Sad news indeed ! Ron Van Gelderen was a very nice and friendly gentleman.
On the occasions that I met him he always took time to have a nice conversation in dutch about Cadillacs.
I always looked forward to meet him.

Peter Nieuwlandt
Peter Nieuwlandt
CLC 17863

Chris Cummings

Indeed a loss of a true friend, and not insignificantly, a wealth of knowledge about the cars and the club.  Ron was always incredibly generous with his time and eager to help.  A real gentleman and a delightful person to know. May he rest in peace.

Chris Cummings

Bill Bickle 15098

Although I had met Ron before, it was my relationship with him over the last 8 months that was most memorable. I had taken on the task of updating his original 1995 Directory of 1940 LaSalle 5267s.  His enthusiasm over this project was certainly a great inspiration. His last phone call about a month ago stating how he was thoroughly enjoying the results of my efforts was certainly appreciated.  I am so fortunate to have been able to contribute to a legacy that is an integral part of the Cadillac and LaSalle Club. His family should be proud and the Cadillac and Lasalle club should  be proud to have had such an outstanding individual within our midst.
The Cadillac and LaSalle Club has been truly blessed by his presence.
1927 (7400) and 1940 (5267) LaSalles; 1949 Cadillac 6107


I never met the man but he obviously had a lot to do with creating and maintaining the high standards of the club.

I'd like to offer my respects to his family and his friends and say thanks for all of the time and energy expended on our behalf.

Brian Rachlin
Huntingdon Valley, Pa
CLC # 22443
I prefer email's not PM's rachlin@comcast.net

1960 62 Series Conv with Factory Tri Power
1970 DeVille Conv
1970 Eldo
1970 Caribu (?) "The Cadmino"
1973 Eldorado Conv Pace Car
1976 Eldorado Conv
1980 Eldorado H & E Conv
1993 Allante with Hardtop (X2)
2008 DTS
2012 CTS Coupe
2017 XT
1956 Thunderbird
1966 Olds Toronado

Brett Baird

I am hesitant to share my thoughts about Ron, as I know that nothing I can write will do him justice.  I met Ron in 1962 when I was 8 years old.  He had spotted my dad driving his ’41 60 Special and followed him to our home.  Their mutual love for Cadillacs resulted in an instant friendship.  Ron was kind enough to mention my dad and that very meeting in the article he wrote for the 50th anniversary issue of the Self Starter.  I still have memories of the beautiful black ‘41 convert that he drove. My dad’s Cadillac later became mine, and, again the common interest for these fabulous cars resulted in a friendship, this time between Ron and myself.  While Ron lived in Georgia we kept in touch by telephone and I was fortunate to catch up with him at a few Grand Nationals over the years. He would always look me up when he came back to Utah to visit.  I was lucky enough to see him on a more regular basis after he moved back to Utah a couple of years ago.  I am proud to have known Ron and have him consider me his friend.  It goes without saying that the hobby has lost a giant.  My sincere condolences go out to his family. All of us  will miss him greatly.
B Baird
'41 Fleetwood 60 S  http://bit.ly/1jwgEWm
'59 Sedan DeVille 6339 "Flat-top"  http://bit.ly/1jwgUF1

Terry Wenger

I was very sad to hear of Ron's passing. I remember when we started the St. Louis region he came to my home in St. Louis for one of our early meetings to present us with our charter.

We had a number of conversations many years ago on how to improve the Self-Starter and eventually the Self-Starter Annuals came about. He always was there to help on such projects as re-organizing the Technician program or sending material for use in writing authenticity manuals.

He had many Cadillacs and LaSalles, all beautiful cars ranging from several V16's to LaSalles over the years.

His greatest accomplishment was helping to make the CLC what it is today, especially during his terms as Club president.He was always great to work with. He will be greatly missed.

In the past year we have lost some valuable members who helped make the Club, Carl Steig, Doug Houston and now, Ron. May they Rest in Peace.

Terry Wenger

Terry Wenger CLC #1800
1932 355B TSD
1939 7557
1940 60S
1941 60S
1947 6267 Conv.
1949 6207X Coupe
1963 60S

Art Director

My best memories of Ron VanGelderen include the 2003 Grand National board meeting in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., when Steve Stewart and I were confirmed by the CLC board to take over editing and designing The Self-Starter starting with the January 2004 issue. Steve and I answered many excellent questions by board members, mostly concerning the distance between where he and I live (1,100 miles).

After a while, Ron said something along the lines of, "Let's move on and vote and let these guys show us what they can do."

Ron would call me almost every month when the new issue of The Self-Starter arrived in his home, with his critique, positive the vast majority of the time. He cared deeply about the CLC and the magazine, which is part of our club's image to the outside world.

Another good memory of Ron took place just a year and a half ago and it was fate that made it happen. I was originally planning on flying from Denver to Chicago O'Hare, then take the Amtrak to Kalamazoo for the CLC Museum's Fall Festival and grand opening. A disgruntled employee at an Illinois FAA facility set a fire that caused both O'Hare and Midway airports to close and my flight was canceled. I was able to book a flight the next day to Detroit after Jerry Steinard said he could pick me up at the airport and take me to Kalamazoo.

Ron and I shared the back seat of Jerry and Janet Steinard's luxurious 1976 Series 75 limousine for the three-hour trip. We talked about anything and everything, mostly about the progress of the CLC's publications over the years. Ron, as CLC president in the mid-1980s, was instrumental in the conversion of The Self-Starter from a mimeographed sheet with a three-hole punch to a magazine format. Color would come later, and, finally, full color on every page began in the fall of 2013.

Ron's speech at the grand opening festivities, like his remarks in the board meetings, captivated the audience. He was very persuasive and whether you agreed with him or not, you still couldn't help but like him.

During our last phone conversation earlier this year, I asked Ron if he wanted to hitch a ride to the Las Vegas Grand National, since I plan on driving and taking my 1963 Six-Window Sedan de Ville. Salt Lake City would have been 200 miles out of the way, but it didn't matter. Ron said he just couldn't take a car ride of even that short distance.

Rest in peace, Ron, you left this earth a much better place and the CLC a much better organization.
Tim Coy
CLC Southwestern Regions Vice President
Art Director, The Self-Starter, International Membership Directory
Life member, Rocky Mountain Region
CLCMRC Benefactor #102

1963 Six-Window Sedan de Ville
1972 Fleetwood Brougham - RIP
1988 Sedan de Ville - RIP
2001 Eldorado ESC - RIP
2003 DeVille DTS - sold

Jeff Hansen

The first time I can recall meeting Ron was at the first board meeting I attended in Washington, DC, in 1999.  I don’t recall much from that meeting, only that I met him.  In subsequent meetings, he would always ask about my ’42 series 7533 and how the restoration was progressing.  They were always interesting discussions and he would always encourage me to keep at it.  When I finally had finished the ’42 and had it at its first GN in Savannah in 2007, I don’t know who was more excited â€" him or me.  I ran into him about 11 PM one evening early on in the meet and he couldn’t wait to see that car.  We went straight down to the parking garage under the hotel where I had it parked.  I opened the right rear door and turned on all of the interior lights.  He looked inside for a couple of seconds, leaned against the door, and said, “Oh, my God...”  I will never forget that moment.  To this day, that is the best complement I have gotten for that car.  He photographed every inch of the car â€" and then sent me all of the photos.  He was a very good photographer.

We all miss you, Ron.

Jeff Hansen
1941 6019S Sixty Special
1942 7533 Imperial Sedan