Bill Verlaan

A photo of Bill Verlaan

Bill Verlaan 1932-2021

There was a celebration of his earthly life when Bill passed to his eternal home. It was there that he saw those he had loved so much. His mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Willem Verlaan, his sister Rejcha, his beautiful daughter-in-law Michelle, his in laws Jean and Charlie Varney, Uncle Freddie Hatch, his best friend and brother-in-law Alan Varney, his buddies Vic Knight, Keith Sambel, Tony Marley and his fellow Kiwanian and friend Dr. John Button who would greet him in the same manner he did in his earthly home, “Here comes my favourite Dutchman.”

Bill was born in Holland. When he was a young lad, his country became occupied and because of lack of food, he, his sister and brother were sent to different farms. It was there that he ran messages for the underground, it was there that he saw sights no young child should see and it was there that he witnessed something that he carried with him for the rest of his life.

One day two German soldiers stopped at the farm house and the lady invited them in for lunch. While eating, the two young soldiers broke down and cried. They said “We don’t want to fight. We just want to go home.” It was then, that Bill realized that the majority of the German people were as much under siege by a maniac leader and his thugs as the Dutch people were. It was there when Bill learned not to be judgemental and to always give people the benefit of a doubt.

Bill would leave Holland to make his home in Canada and his workplace became the Royal Bank of Canada.

Bill would go on to have 3 children- Monique, Marcel and Margot by a previous marriage. Bill took fatherhood seriously and was devoted to his children. He soothed their sorrows and applauded their achievements. He was always there for them when they needed him.

When the Royal Bank transferred Bill to Ridgetown he met his beloved wife Mary Helen Wilson and his chosen son P.J. Wilson. Their loving commitment to one another through the years was a joy to see. Bill and Mary Helen would be blessed with two grandsons, Brody Robert Verlaan and Brock William Verlaan.

There was another very important loved one in Bill’s life and that was his faithful lab, Jessie. He would walk down the street with her and the kids who saw them so often would shout, “Here comes Mr. Wilson and Jessie”. Bill didn’t correct them. Instead, he greeted them and smiled. Bill knew who he was. A different name did not diminish him.

Bill’s eyesight began to deteriorate until he became legally blind. His only lament was he worried he would pass someone on the street who he knew and wouldn’t recognize them because of his eyesight. He accepted his loss of sight without complaint.

Bill would not want us to hail his achievements in life although, there were many. He was a proud man but, never sought out recognition for all his accomplishments.

Bill often told his daughter Margot that life was short and that is why he so appreciated his longevity.

For us to tell you who Bill Verlaan was, we would say that he was a man who loved life, loved his family and friends deeply and unconditionally, he had a tremendous work ethic, he believed that actions spoke louder than words, he hated injustice and spoke out when he saw it, he was not afraid to show tears in his eyes when he saw or heard something beautiful or news that was sad, he recognized his feet of clay and he loved to joke around and laughed the most when the joke was on him.

Keeping with Bill’s wishes there will be no Celebration of life. For those of you who walked with Bill during his life’s journey, please pass on to others what he believed in so deeply, in memory of him.

Bill passed away peacefully in his home with “his Sweetie” Mary Helen, Margot and P.J. at his side.

Bill is also survived by his brother Casey (Michel) in Alberta, Margot’s loving husband Don and many extended family members.

To paraphrase the beautiful song of Bette Midler we, who loved him, would say to him, “We could fly higher than an eagle, for you were the wind beneath our wings.”

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Bill was a daily patron to the Maggies Tea Room when he first moved to Ridgetown back in mid 80's. He always had a happy comment and a smile, while he had his lunch with us. He especially liked it when I made chili, he said it was sooo good. Will miss that smiling face Condolences to the family....

Mary Helen and family Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers during this most difficult of times. Bill was such a happy and friendly person and will be deeply missed. Blessings to you all.

Our deepest condolences Mary Helen and family. Bill was a great man and I will remember fondly shingling all those roofs with the red scaffolding with him when my brother and I was too young to be working. He will surely be laughing with his above mentioned buddies in a better place. Sincerely, Chris & Julie Knight

It is with great sorrow that we read of Bill's passing in the Ridgetown Independent today. We have many great memories of Bill, through Kiwanis and elsewhere. When the weather was better, I often met Bill at the post office or walking down Erie street and we would have a nice chat. He always appreciated that I first told him who I was. Bill will be missed by many, including Lynda and me. Our sincere condolences!

We are sorry to hear of Bill's passing. I enjoyed spending time during the Christmas Parade with both of you. From Sarah, Roger, and Nancy (Ackford) Cudmore

So sorry for your loss Mary Helen, life will be very different without Bill but you will have all your great memories. My heart goes out to you and your family.

Our sincere sympathy to Mary Helen and the family.

Mary Helen & family .. my sincerest sympathy in the loss of Bill .. he was a great man .. easy to talk to and always had a smile and a friendly greeting. He will be missed. Please know I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Sincerely, Catherine

We are sorry to hear of Bill’s passing. Our condolences go out to his family.

Mary Helen so sorry to hear of Bills passing , how i loved when I would get that phone call from Bill telling me you two had a full page for me and when I arrived to pick the ad up the lovely visit we would have along with Jessie . He was always a delight to talk with and his tribute was so beautiful . May your memories give you comfort.

Mary Helen & family - Please accept our sincere sympathy in the passing of Bill, our thoughts and prayers are with you at this very difficult time. It was a joy to know Bill as a Kiwanis friend, may the memory of love shared comfort each of you now and in the days to come.

My heartfelt condolences to Mary Helen and families. What a beautiful tribute to a good man. I was fortunate to have been able to work with Bill for a few years before his retirement from the Royal Bank. I have fond memories of that time--it was a pleasure to work with him. And, it is so very true, he would laugh the hardest when the joke was on him. He will be missed.

He was a great guy who really helped us a number of years ago.

Bill was always first class !! Been my pleasure to know him ! Very sorry for your loss !

Our deepest condolence to Mary Helen & family. Bill always had a story to tell. Each story was so interesting especially when he talking about being bank manager in New Liskeard. He will always have a place in our hearts.

I was very fortunate to meet Mr. Verlaan in my hometown of Kincardine. He and his family were very involved in minor sports and he was a stand out as a mentor for young athletes. I’m not sure of his talent as a hockey player but Margot and Marcel were second to none. Our thoughts, prayers and of course hugs go out to Margot and Mary Helen, “Willem” will forever live in our hearts. Brian Catto

We will miss our friend, Bill. Please accept our heart felt condolences. Craig and Rosemary