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Roderick (Rod) Kent Van Heel

October 2, 1952 December 28, 2018
Roderick (Rod) Kent Van Heel
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Obituary for Roderick (Rod) Kent Van Heel

Roderick “Rod” Kent Van Heel, 66, passed away on Friday, December 28, 2018 at home following a long and courageous battle with cancer.

A celebration of life will be held on Friday, January 11, 2019 at the Eagles Lodge, 1509 9th Avenue South, at 5:00 pm, family and friends are invited to come and join in remembering and celebrating Rod’s life.

Rod was born on October 2, 1952 in Conrad, Montana to Harold and Winnijean (Gaines) Van Heel. Rod played football and basketball throughout his high school years and graduated from high school in Conrad in 1970 followed by college in Billings. He later enlisted in the Air National Guard and was honorably discharged in 1982. He became a finish carpenter and many homes and bars in the surrounding area are a showcase for his expertise, skill and perfectionism with handcrafted cabinetry.

Rod married Linda Frick in 1972 and from that marriage they had two sons, Garrett Van Heel and Wylie Van Heel. Rod and Linda later divorced and on July 19, 1980, Rod married Donna (Larson) Doran and from that marriage became a family of 7. Rod and Donna were not only husband and wife for the next 38 years but soulmates and best friends. He was also very proud of all five of his children and their individual accomplishments in life.

Rod loved life and lived it to the fullest. He loved to dance and he was a jokester at heart and loved to joke with his grandchildren. He loved family vacations to Boston, New York and Seeley Lake. Rod and Donna’s 2004 Corvette was his pride and joy and brought out the youthful side of him, reminiscent of his days of hot rods and growing up in Conrad. Often times, family and friends would see him zipping in and out of traffic going down 10th Avenue South in his car. Grilling was one of his favorite pastimes and no matter the season, was always proud of serving up the best and biggest steaks around. He was a proud member of the Eagles Lodge and many a Friday night you could find him there, doing Shake A Day and enjoying a drink with his wife and their friends.

He had a tremendous love for animals and will be deeply missed by his puppies Zoe, Bo, Benny and Elvis as well as those puppies that preceded him in death.

Rod was deeply shaken by the sudden tragic death of his grandson Colton in 2016. He made numerous trips to the site of Colton’s accident, telling Donna that it made him feel closer to his grandson.

In his last months, he loved visiting with his sister, Linda, about their life growing up in Conrad and the crazy things they did. He loved watching his grandchildren play sports and was proud of their drive to give it 100%. From football to soccer to dance, lacrosse to basketball to wrestling and ice hockey, he attended all that he could and was one of their biggest fans.

Rod was thankful to those children that accompanied him and Donna to Kalispell to receive cancer treatments and the never-ending support they provided him. A heartfelt thank you to the physicians, nurses and hospice staff that treated him over the last few years, that was so kind to him and his family.

Rod is survived by his wife Donna Van Heel; sons Garrett Van Heel, Wylie Van Heel and Casey Doran (TanDee) of Great Falls; daughters Heather Rohlf (Tim) of Great Falls and Hallie Schumaker (Rob) of Charlton, MA; 10 grandchildren Gage, Brooke, Brade, Caleb, Alexandra, Conor, Jackson, Cayden, Jerik and Madelyn; sister Linda Winchell of Great Falls; sister-in-laws Kathleen Van Heel of Cut Bank and Suzanne Larson of Longview, WA; nieces Tasha, Tamra and Jalayna; nephew Bryan and numerous cousins.

Rod was preceded in death by his father Harold Van Heel; his mother Winnijean Van Heel; brother Bryan Cody Van Heel; nephew Casey Van Heel; brother-in-laws Richard Winchell, James Larson and grandson Colton Rohlf.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Cancer Society and the Animal Shelter.

To plant a tree in memory of Roderick (Rod) Kent Van Heel, please visit our Tribute Store.

Previous Events

Celebration of Life




5:00 PM 1/11/2019 5:00:00 PM
Eagles Lodge

1501 9th St S
Great Falls, MT 59405

Eagles Lodge
1501 9th St S Great Falls 59405 MT
United States

Memorial Contribution

American Cancer Society

Humane Society of Cascade County


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