Pieter VandenHoven was born in The Hague, Holland on September 9, 1931, and passed away on January 14, 2018, at St. Helena Hospital, surrounded by his family. He was a beloved physician, practicing cardiology with the heart team at St. Helena Hospital and Lake County hospitals for 25 years. He loved the practice of medicine and his patients, some who came from as far away as Alaska. Retirement was not what he truly wanted, but health issues made that mandatory, and his last day of practice was December 31, 2000.
As a young boy, Pieter experienced very difficult years growing up in Holland during World War II. The Hunger Winter was especially severe with a blockade of food to the cities, causing over 20,000 people to die of starvation in Holland. Pieter’s older brother, who was in the underground, got word to his family that food was plentiful on the farmlands of northern Holland. That news led 13 year old Pieter to escape from The Hague and lead his older sister on a harrowing trip by truck and foot to the north. This fearless determination to overcome difficulties was an attribute that stayed with him throughout life, and helped him conquer many more obstacles in furthering his education and dealing with the ongoing challenges of continually advancing medical knowledge. But Pieter always retained a strong love for his native country and returned there numerous times after completing his medical education.
In 1951, Pieter’s family moved from Holland to Australia where job opportunities were more plentiful. Pieter stayed one year in Australia working as a translator for the government in the immigrant camps, as his education in Holland had included learning several languages. However, after receiving an opportunity to go to the United States on a student visa and obtaining sponsorship from Walla Walla College in Washington, Pieter found passage on a ship sailing to America and arrived at the college campus in May, 1952.
With $25 and the clothes in his suitcase, Pieter began an 80 hour work week on the farm at the college to earn enough money to begin classes in the Fall. Always facing obstacles head-on with perseverance and determination, he continued his education through the years and completed his medical degree at Loma Linda University in 1959. He then enjoyed six years in Farmington, New Mexico in the practice of General Medicine, followed by a residency program at the University of Colorado Medical School, where he became board certified in Internal Medicine in 1972 and completed a fellowship in cardiovascular diseases. Returning to Loma Linda, he continued further training in coronary angiography before accepting an invitation to join the heart team at St. Helena Hospital in 1976.
While at Walla Walla College, he met and married Sarah Thiebaud, and they subsequently added four children to their home. He enjoyed traveling with his family, especially taking them back to his beloved homeland. Spending time with his family, being active in church ministry, reading, playing tennis, and travelling: these were activities he enjoyed when not in his office.
Pieter is survived by his wife, Sarah, his four children and their spouses, Tom and Lori VandenHoven, Sharon and Tim Beall, Michele and Mark Davis, Peter and Heather VandenHoven; and four grandchildren, Kristen and Travis Martin, Nick Beall, Audrey Davis, and Lauren VandenHoven.
A celebration of Pieter’s life will be held on Saturday, March 3, at 4:00 PM at the Pacific Union College Church. Gifts in his memory may be sent to Pacific Union College Worthy Student Fund, Angwin, CA.