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Memorial Service

Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witness
Saturday December 27th, 2014

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Funeral Service

Porter Funeral Home
Saturday August 1st, 2020

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Vernon Harmelink


Vernon “Vern” Harmelink, 90, of Phoenix, Arizona, formerly of Rock Valley, Iowa, died Thursday, July 16, 2020, at Abrazo West Campus Community Hospital in Goodyear, Arizona.  A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 1, 2020, at 10:00 AM at the First Reformed Church of Rock Valley, Iowa, with Rev. Dr. Verlyn Boone officiating.  The service will be available on livestream on the church website at www.rvfrc.org.  Following the memorial service burial with military honors will be held at 11:00 AM at Valley View Cemetery of Rock Valley.  Social distancing is encouraged at all services. Porter Funeral Homes is assisting the family with funeral arrangements. Condolences may be sent to www.porterfuneralhomes.com.

    Vernon Harmelink, son of Gerrit Jan “John” and Janke “Jeannette” (Zwanenburg) and the 20th of 21 children of John, was born on January 31, 1930, at home on the family farm in Sioux Township, Sioux County Iowa. He graduated from Rock Valley High School in 1947, from Central College in Pella, Iowa, with his bachelor’s in English in 1953, and from the University of Iowa, in Iowa City, Iowa, with his master’s in English in 1960.  In 1953 he was sworn into the United States Navy and served during the Korean Conflict until 1957, but remained in the Reserve until his retirement in 1975.  He was united in marriage to Sondra “Sondi” Jean (Einfeldt) on July 25, 1970, in Boden, Preemption Township, Illinois.  Vernon made his career in teaching, from a one-room country school house in Sioux County, Iowa, to instructing college English at the State College of Iowa (now Univ of Northern Iowa), and on to DoDDS (Department of Defense Dependent Schools) teaching high school English and Journalism in Europe and Asia.  He retired from teaching in 1995, and eventually moved with Sondi to Phoenix, Arizona, where he spent his retirement making daily trips to Starbucks and doing extensive genealogical research.

    Traveling and family were Vernon’s two passions.  During his time in the Navy and while he lived abroad with DoDDS he explored many countries and their diverse cultures.  Oh, the stories Vern could tell.  When he wasn’t traveling Vern spent his time tracing the genealogy of his large family tree.  Gathering the family for annual reunions became more than a passion for Vern, it was his mission—a successful one, at that.  He was a long-time member of the First Reformed Church of Rock Valley, Iowa, and at the time of his death was a member of The Church at Litchfield Park, Litchfield, Arizona.

   Vernon is survived by his wife, Sondra; 2 children, Jean Annette (Harmelink) Samson, married to Paul Walter Samson of Tucson, Arizona, and Johna Richelle (Harmelink) Van Roekel, married to Aric Timothy Van Roekel of The Woodlands, Texas; 5 grandchildren, Cayla Samson (20), Rebecca Van Roekel (18), Camryn Samson (16), Elizabeth Van Roekel (16), and Aaron Van Roekel (14); 1 sister, Josephine “Jo” (Harmelink) Young of Lynden, Washington; and hundreds (if not, thousands) of cousins, nieces, and nephews.  He was preceded in death by his parents and 19 siblings.

   In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association and sent to Porter Funeral Homes, PO Box 39, Rock Valley, IA 51247.

To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Vernon Harmelink, please visit our flower store.


It is now November 2020 and I just learned of cousin Vern's death. Our most sincere condolences to you Sondi and your family.
I am one of the thousands of cousins etc referred to in his obituary! Vern gave me the gift of genealogy when he shared a family tree and I saw how my own great grandmother fit into his tree! I had already inherited my first name from his own mother.
Sondi, my husband and I spent such a lovely afternoon with you both in Apache Junction a couple of years ago. We never got back.
May Vern rest in peace until we are all reunited for life eternal.
From Jeannette Miller (nee deVries) Canada

Jeannette Miller nee DeVries Nov 14 2020 12:00 AM

Mr. Harmelink was one of my favorite teachers at Wagner. So sad to hear of his passing. Balut Club Forever.

Steve Montgomery Sep 9 2020 12:00 AM

The loss of a friend is the greatest of losses...but true friends are the ones who never leave your heart, even if they leave your life for a while... even after years apart, you pick up w/ them right where you left off, & even if they die they're still alive in your heart.

Sorry for you loss Sondi.

Aloha nui loa... Dave Dyer

Dave Dyer Aug 3 2020 12:00 AM

Mr. Harmelink was also one of my teachers from CAB. He was such a lovely man as his whole family is! I learned so much from him and I will never forget him. I love you Mr. Harmelink

Roggy Jul 30 2020 12:00 AM

We had heard many interesting things about Vern and finally got to meet with him, his wife and Herman Harmelink in AZ a few years ago. I must say it was a very interesting and informative visit. He will be missed by many. Our condolences to the entire family. Gene and Sandie Hamelink

Gene and Sandie Harmelink Jul 28 2020 12:00 AM

I am sorry to hear of Mr. Harmelink's passing. He was my English teach at Clark Air Base (WHS Falcons '85) and was famous for his green suit that he wore on Wednesdays, induction into the Balut Club, and annual celebrations of Edgar Allan Poe's birthday. He made learning fun and engaging. Our condolences to his wife Sondra from the Hamaoka Family. Art, Kimi, and Hanna.

Kimi Hamaoka-Sinha Jul 28 2020 12:00 AM

Mr. Harmelink was my teacher at Wagner HS, Philippines. He brought the best out of his students. He will be missed.

Maria Lee Angeles Jul 28 2020 12:00 AM

Mr. Harmelink was in the small group of my favorite teachers. I only spent a year in his Journalism class at Wagner HS and learned so very much. He was kind, fun, strict, and knew how to challenge his students. I used what I learned from him about writing throughput my life. My sincere condolences to Mrs. Harmelink and to their family. Rest In Peace, good teacher.

Jeanne Lobb Bleecker Jul 28 2020 12:00 AM

Mr. Harmelink was my English teacher on Clark AB Philippines. It was a treat to see his green suit every Wedneaday! May he rest in peace and my condolences to his family from his student Tasha (White) Demps

Tasha (White) Demps Jul 28 2020 12:00 AM

Mr. Harmelink was one of my all time favorite teachers. I loved his passion for English and Literature. He truly cared about each and everyone of his students. He made giving speeches so much easier. I remember his famous green suit! I'll never forget the day of The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster that was what we talked about for the entire class. He even turned on the TV for us to watch. My condolences to the family. Wagner HS Class of '88. RIP Mr. Harmelink!

Tonya Webb Morel Jul 28 2020 12:00 AM

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