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Len Van Gaalen Sr.

Jan 1924 - Oct 2017

Len Van  Gaalen Sr.


POSTED October 13, 2017 6:37 p.m.

Len Van Gaalen was born on January 26, 1924, to Maarten Cornelis and Maria Van Gaalen Wolmerstett in Hazerswoude at the Rijn Dijk, the Netherlands. His parents were dairy farmers, and the house where he grew up was named Rijnzicht meaning view on the Rijn. During World War 2, Len was in a German Prison Camp. Len had developed a mass on his neck, and a German Guard wrote him a note to go to the doctor to get it taken care of. The Guard was basically helping Len to escape. After the doctor cared him for, he was guided to people who would help him to freedom.

After the war ended, Len decided to immigrate to America. In 1947 he came to live with his Uncle who did landscaping. He worked with his uncle on the yards of some Hollywood celebrities at the time, and also met his soon to be wife, Betty Matthews.

Len and Betty were married in 1950. Soon Len was done with gardening and started to make his dream of owning his own dairy a reality. His first dairy was in Hinkley, California. When the water supply ran out, he moved his cows and family to Ceres California, where he rented a dairy to milk his cows. He then had an opportunity to purchase a 40-acre dairy on Tegner road in Turlock, where the family would spend the next 15 years.

During the time on Tegner road, Len would obtain his Real Estate License, and start Western Dairy and Land Exchange. He and Betty would get up early in the morning and visit dairies to as far South as Chino, California, and as far North as Petaluma California, helping dairymen sell their dairies, while helping others buy their first dairies. 

After doing this for several years, they were able to start investing in properties. One of the properties that they purchased was Turlock Professional Park on Geer road. Starting with buying one building, and slowly purchasing the rest of the buildings, they soon owned them all. Len sold the dairy on tegner road in 1978, and bought a 1,500-acre ranch on Keyes and Montpellier road. There Len and his son’s and son-in-law turned a cattle ranch into Van Gaalen Heifer Ranch.  The Ranch was the place of many happy times with family, quads, horses, and mud for the grandkids. In 1991, the ranch was sold, and Len and Betty moved to Denair for a couple of years, until they found the house on Golf Link Road, right across the street from the 8th hole of the Turlock Country Club. 

Len finally retired in 2016, and sold the Professional Park, but kept his hand in Real Estate. Len worked up until his illness took away his strength in the beginning of 2017.

Len is predeceased by his parents, Maarten and Maria Van Gaalen, His older sister, Heiltje Van’t Kruis, his loving wife Betty, his son-in-law Dwayne Doerman Sr., and his precious granddaughter, Lisa Van Gaalen, and nephew Maarten Vant Kruis. He is survived by his older sister Lies Oppelaar, his niece Marijke Oppelaar, and nephew Sjaak Vant Kruis, and many other nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews in the Netherlands, his children, Rachel (Dennis) Corley, Wayne Sr. (Jayne) Van Gaalen, Len Jr. (Sherrie) Van Gaalen, Joyce Doerman, and Flora Curby.  Grandchildren Kristina (Matt) Horn, Shannon Padilla, Heather (Eric) Olson, Bethany (Jonathan) Miller, Wayne Jr.(Amethyst) Van Gaalen, Erik Van Gaalen, Dwayne Jr.(Shamayne) Doerman, Katelyn Doerman, and 21 Great grand children.

Len is also survived by Blondie and Tabatha, his every faithful and loving poodles.

The family would like to thank Flora Curby for the tender and special care that she took caring for our Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather and Uncle.

A celebration of Len’s life will be held on Friday, October 20, 2017 at 11:00a.m. at Monte Vista Chapel.  Please share your memories at www.AllenMortuary.com

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