With sad hearts we announce the death of our father Rob Vanderham. Rob was born Robert Theodoor Marie van der Ham in The Hague, Holland on October 25, 1927, the youngest of six children born to Aloysius Petrus van der Ham and Adele Francoise Hofstee.
Rob was a boy during the German occupation of Holland and witnessed Canadian tanks rolling past his home in Voorburg as Allied forces freed the country in 1945.
The family ran a lumber business, but Rob dreamed of farming, so he travelled to Canada via ocean liner 1948 and studied Agriculture at the University of Guelph. During the summer Rob worked at the Jasper Park Lodge where he met the love of his life, the lovely Mariette Suttle. They married in Saskatoon in 1953 and honeymooned in Europe until the tragic death of Mariette’s only sibling Jack Suttle. Rob’s solid love and care helped her live through that devastating loss. After working at Mobil Oil for 10 years as a scout and then as a Landman, Rob struck out on his own and founded Vanderham Oil Properties, before moving on to form Peyto Oils with geologist Bill Wolodarsky. Rob became well known in the oil business in Calgary for his integrity and dynamism.
Rob and Mariette’s first child were born in 1954, and by 1964 they had seven children. They remembered these years with their young family as some of the happiest of their lives. In 1967 Rob and Mariette bought the beautiful Driftline Ranch with Joe and Betty Mercier. With 15 children between the two families, the ranch was a lively and fun place to spend weekends and summers. Steers were bought in the spring, grazed in the Forestry Reserve all summer, and rounded up for sale in the fall. Hay was harvested to feed the horses during the cold winter months. When Peyto was bought out, Rob started Highridge Exploration, and also ran a cow-calf operation for a number of years.
When Rob retired, he continued to be on the Board of several oil companies and to mentor many in the land field. He was well respected as a straight-forward and honest businessman.
He moved with Mariette to Victoria in 1994, where he stayed active in a walking group, bridge club, gardening club, and in volunteering as a driver helping the elderly. His many philanthropic activities included supporting Foundation House, a treatment centre for alcoholic men; drilling water wells and building a health centre in Gambia; supporting a Catholic school and health centre in Peru; and donating to several other charitable organizations, including Victoria Hospice, where his own earthly journey ended. Rob and Mariette enjoyed many loving years together, showed courage and devotion in coping with the trials of aging, and acted with warmth and caring toward each other till the end. Rob stayed chipper in the face of adversity, had a great sense of humour, loved to read the newspaper, was humble, hardworking and a devoted husband and father.
Rob is survived and deeply missed by his children Celeste, Paul (Mary Anne), Margot (Michael), Kristine, Mark (Cathy), Maria, and Gina, and by his numerous grandchildren, step grandchildren, great grandchildren, relatives and friends.
After his funeral on Friday October 23rd at St. James Catholic Church in Okotoks, Alberta, Rob will be laid to rest beside Mariette in the Okotoks cemetery. Regrettably by invitation only due to COVID.
May you rest in peace, Dad. Thank you for all your love and care. We will love you and keep you in our hearts forever.
Condolences may be offered to the family below.