Former Governor John D Vanderhoof, 91 years of age, passed away on September 19, 2013, following a short illness.
Governor Vanderhoof was born in Rocky Ford, Colorado, and spent the early years of his life in the Stove Prairie area west of Fort Collins. The Stove Prairie school only went through the 8th grade, and the family moved to Fort Collins so John could continue his education at Fort Collins High School. Following high school John attended Glendale College in California. Governor Vanderhoof enlisted in the Navy in 1942 and graduated from the Navy Pilot training program in 1943. He flew many fighter missions from the aircraft carrier the USS Bunker Hill. He was a part of the first wave of aircraft attacking Iwo Jima. His aircraft was badly damaged by ground fire during a mission over Legaspi Bay. He was able to return to the carrier but the damage to the aircraft made it impossible to land. He was ordered to bail out. His leg was badly broken while leaving the aircraft. While convalescing in California, he learned of the naval hospital in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. His request for transfer to Glenwood Springs was granted. John earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Navy Crosses and three purple hearts for his accomplishments in the South Pacific.
He fell in love with the Glenwood area and convinced his family to relocate in Glenwood, and, with his father, opened Van’s Sporting Goods. The store was sold in 1956 and John was instrumental in organizing both Glenwood Independent Bank and the Bank of Glenwood.
It was in Glenwood Springs where John’s political career began. John helped start the Young Republican organization. Fellow club members encouraged John to run for the Colorado House of Representatives in 1950. He won the seat and was active in the body for the next twenty years. He served as Minority Leader, Majority Leader and Speaker of the House during this time in the house.
In 1970 John was elected Lt. Governor of the state of Colorado. On July 16, 1973, he took the oath of office to become the 37th Governor of Colorado. Following his term as Governor, John relocated to Grand Junction, Colorado, to become president of Club 20, an organization devoted to uniting the western slope in various aspects ranging from growth and finances to politics.
John lived with his wife Ruthie in Grand Junction until her death in 2012. John and Ruthie had a very active lifestyle during their 35 years of marriage. They enjoyed hunting, fishing, river railing and golfing, were avid sports fans and they traveled extensively throughout the world.
Governor Vanderhoof is survived by 6 children, Bruce Vanderhoof (Susi) of Kansas City, Missouri; Linda Vanderhoof of Denver; Tom Craig, (Tammie) of Palisade; Cindy Epple (Harold) of Fruita; Kathy La Plante (Willie) Eckert and Nancy Guccini of Cedaredge, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren He is also survived by his sister, Jean Johnson of Fort Collins, and his brother Don (Eddi) of Glenwood Springs. He was preceded in death by parents Roy E. and Irene Vanderhoof.
Governor Vanderhoof requested that a private family service be held.
It is requested that any donations be made, in his name, to: Northern Colorado Flood Relief, 242 Conifer Street, Fort Collins, Colorado 80524.