Van Rodewalt was born in Robsart, Saskatchewan on June 6th, 1918 and was one of five children.
His parents emigrated from Hamburg, Germany and were homesteaders. Later they moved to the Peace River country where he and his older brother Hans had a dray business where they hauled ice and lumber for the city of Grande Prairie. Van served in the army during the war in a hydraulics plant at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, Ontario.
He returned to the Peace River country after the war and married Rose Cousineau and they had 3 children. During that time he trained as an electrician and worked on the famous DEW line in Canada’s North, often maintaining hundreds of miles of remote communication stations alone. He learned to love the North and events that took place there became some of his favorite stories.
Horses were his passion and when he and his wife moved to the Edmonton area in the early fifties he called his properties Rainbow Ranches. He owned many hundreds of horses over his long life but perhaps his favorite was a beautiful palomino stallion with a white mane and tail called Belvederes Royal Banner that had won at the CNE in Toronto.
He started the successful Rainbow Valley Saddle Club in South Edmonton in an area known then as White Mud Creek. His horses were in demand constantly for parades, where they won prizes, and at rodeos. Two memorable rodeo horses were 10-66 and Windsplitter. He supplied broncs for Harry Vold for years and worked with Tommy Dorchester in the early development of a mix of breeds that would become the exciting chuckwagon horses of today. A common sight in those days was the man in the cowboy hat behind the wheel of the truck with Rainbow Ranches painted in the side with the pure white German Shepherd in the back. Everybody knew Van.
He and his wife Rose would retire to Chilliwack BC in the early seventies but he kept his hand in the business of horses by operating a tack shop. He was one of the last of his kind who could step off a harness (estimate), go cut it and it would fit perfectly. The government of BC wanted him to start a school to teach harness-making but he declined.
But Van was a people person too and had many friends. Helping people was something that he loved to do and he did it often. He also sponsored children in the Dominican Republic which he took the time to travel to and visit.
Van was predeceased by his wife Rose in 1992 and by his brothers Hans and Gordon and his sisters Elsie and Laurie. He has a surviving brother Larry who lives in St. Albert. He will be greatly missed by his 3 children: Vance, Darcy Lea, and Nancy; as well as 4 grandchildren: Kelly, Keir, Vale and Quinn; and 3 great-grandchildren, Vayden, Sage, and Vallon.
Van Rodewalt passed away peacefully in his own home in Chilliwack BC at the age of 93 on April 11, 2012. Funeral services will be held at St. Thomas Church, 46048 Gore Ave., Chilliwack, BC V2P 1Z6 on Friday, April 20 at 1:00 pm. In lieu of flowers the family asks that a contribution be made to the SPCA if you wish.