Douglas Vandegrift, 91, Albert Lea

Published 9:26 am Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Douglas G. Vandegrift was born in Albert Lea on Feb. 9, 1922, to Richard E. and Ruth (Wedge) Vandegrift. He lived a rich life of 91 years in the house where his father was born, on the farm his grandfather purchased in 1883.

Douglas Vandegrift

Douglas Vandegrift

Doug graduated in 1938 from Albert Lea High School, and during his life was involved with many organizations including 4-H, Farm Bureau, American Dairy Association, Toastmasters and Rural Youth. Dairying was the cornerstone of his life. He had a dairy farming partnership with his father and from 1963 to 2007 with Vandegrift Dairy Equipment. Customers often became valued friends, making the business and life itself very enjoyable.

In 1945, Doug married Tracy Vande Kamp and together they raised six daughters and one son. The blessing of his own family was the high point of life, bringing love, support, pleasure and pride. Doug and Tracy joined the United Methodist Church in 1946 and served faithfully in the local church, district and conference, as well as on missions to Costa Rica and Antigua.

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After 30 years of a solid marriage, the gift of a marriage enrichment weekend proved to be a life changing experience, bringing a love deeper than they thought possible. To share this blessing, they, together with Dorothy and Bruce Buchanan, coordinated and led countless marriage enrichment weekends, served on the national board of directors and encouraged others to become leaders. The rewards of this involvement proved to be one of the most important parts of their life together – being able to serve God and encourage married couples.

Doug enjoyed exploring the world with Tracy while visiting their children. Grandchildren were also a treasured part of Doug’s life. He enjoyed making and inventing things for them, and shared his love of home, love of music and joy in God’s creation with them. Hymn songs with Doug’s harmonica and trumpet accompaniment were the highlights of many family reunions.

Preceding Doug in death were his parents; and his brother, Dick, in World War II. He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Tracy; and his children, Nancy Hughes, JoAn (Lowell) Johnson, Carol (Steve) Goette, Judy (John, Jr.) Westrum, Pat (Steve) Preston, Kent (Rochelle) Vandegrift and Diane (Eric) Martineau; along with many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. After a tractor accident in 2008, he lived at home and was lovingly cared for by his wife and other caregivers. In October 2012, he moved to St. John’s Nursing Home, where he died peacefully on Sunday, May 19, 2013, in the presence of many of those he loved.

Faith, family and friendships were the highlights of his life. His love, integrity and influence will endure in each of our hearts and lives.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Friday at United Methodist Church in Albert Lea. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Bayview Funeral Home and at the church one hour preceding the service. Interment will be at Graceland Cemetery. Online condolences are welcome at

In lieu of flowers, memorials are welcomed and may be directed to United Methodist Church in Albert Lea.