James Douglass ‘Jim’ Vander Meer, 75, passed away on Monday, August 17, 2020 surrounded by his wife and family at his Chehalis, WA home. Jim was born October 10, 1944, in Seattle, WA., to Douglass and Elizabeth (Whipple) Vander Meer. He was the oldest of six siblings – five boys and one girl. Jim’s father served in the United States Coast Guard, so he lived in many different places growing up, including Guam and Hawaii. When he was in junior high, his family moved to Southern California. He graduated in 1962 from West Covina High School and went on to attend Cal Poly Pomona and Mt. San Antonio College, before earning his BA in Industrial Arts and Automotive Technology from Cal State L.A. in March 1977. Through the years, he furthered his education by taking courses specific to his teaching career but did not apply for his master’s degree. Jim was Crew Chief for Dan Wahrenbrock in a SCCA Race- successfully campaigning a Datsun 2000 Roadster in ‘Class D’ Production Class. He was a car buff that restored many cars, including several Dodge Business Coupes; a DeSoto Airflow Coupe; a Facel Vega; a 1970 Porsche 914; 1966 Oldsmobile 88 Convertible; and 1966 and 1969 Oldsmobile 442.
Jim worked for The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, The City of Pomona Department of Public Works, and was co-owner of Garey Avenue Auto Service in Pomona, CA. He taught Automotive and Electronics at Cal State Los Angeles, Mira Costa College and Chaffey College in Southern California before landing in the Pacific Northwest. From 1984 – 1993, Jim taught several courses at WF West High School in Chehalis, WA including Small Engine Repair & Maintenance, Electronics, and Physical Science. Starting in 1984, he taught Vocational Automotive, Robotics, Electronics, and Small Engine Mechanics at nearby Centralia College, until his retirement in 2010. After retirement, Jim was happy that he was able to attend more of his grandchildren’s sporting events and devote more time to traveling and bird watching.
Jim was a unique person who went out of his way to please others, especially his wife, Stephanie. He will always be remembered as an easy going, highly intelligent practical joker that loved animals and children. When he was young, Jim enjoyed Boy Scouts (earned his Eagle Scout in 1961); swimming; riding his horse, Rusty; operating his HAM radio; and building Heathkit electronic devices. As an adult, he was an avid birdwatcher; made two cross country road trips across the U.S. and enjoyed traveling to Whidbey Island, Hawaii, and Canada. He sang lead in Lewis County’s Barbershop Chorus, ‘Two Town Tuners’. He was a HAM radio operator with an advanced class license; was a VE Instructor; was a member of CVARS; was a Lewis County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue Volunteer; and a member of Lewis County ARES. Jim had been a member of Grace Church of Chehalis since the mid- eighties. He volunteered at AWANA, working with children. He also volunteered as a greeter, nursery helper, member of the choir, and projectionist.
He married Nancy Elizabeth Fagg February 22, 1969, in Claremont, CA. A daughter, Jennifer Lynne Vander Meer, was born in 1975, before the couple divorced. He married Stephanie Rae Faller December 31, 1983, in Arcadia, CA., and gained a second daughter, Stacy Rae Faller, who was born in 1978.
He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Cornelius and Lucille (Douglass) Vander Meer and Archie and Ruth (Lampson) Whipple; parents, Douglass and Elizabeth; brothers, William and Robert Vander Meer; nephew, Michael Vander Meer; niece, Bernadette Vander Meer; and sister in law, Margarita Vander Meer.
Jim is loved and remembered by his wife of 36 years, Stephanie; daughter Jennifer (Sam) North and grandchildren, Zachary, Joshua, and Kate, of Seattle, and daughter Stacy (Matt) Dowling and grandchildren, Kaylynne and Mason, of Chehalis; siblings, Howard Vander Meer, Steve Vander Meer, and Michelle Taniguchi, all of Las Vegas, NV.; stepmother, Linda Vander Meer, of Las Vegas, NV.; and many nieces and nephews.
An outdoor memorial is planned for September 12. Per Jim’s family, potential guests should call (360)748-4969 for information. Interment will be private at Boistfort Cemetery in Boistfort, WA.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the ASPCA, or to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.