Van Assche, James

Written by David Green.

Thomas James “Jim” Van Assche, 92, of Dearborn Heights, Mich., and formerly of Fayette, Ohio, died Feb. 21, 2011, surrounded by loved ones at his home.

Jim was born Nov. 2, 1918, in Dearborn to the late Albert and Anna (Ritterstorf) Van Assche. On Oct. 28, 1942, in Dearborn, he married Geraldine Merillat and she survives.

Jim spent his early life and raised his family in the Dearborn area, where he worked for Ford Motor Company, and later founded and operated Van Assche & Sons Construction. In 1974, he moved to rural Fayette, where he and Gerri made their home until May 2009.

He was an active and devoted parishioner of St. Sebastion Catholic Church in Dearborn and Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Fayette. He was skilled in woodworking and carpentry, enjoyed gardening, and was blessed with an ever-witty sense of humor that could always make a person smile.

Jim served his country as a member of the United States Army during World War II.

In addition to his wife, Jim is survived by three sons, T. James II (and Kathy) Van Assche of Romulus, Mich., Robert (and Barb) Van Assche of Dearborn Heights, and Donald (and Sandy) Van Assche of Dearborn Heights; four daughters, Betty (and Frank) DeMilde of Dearborn Heights, Judith Collins of Dearborn Heights, Geraldine (and Brad) Rupp of Quincy, Mich., and Paula (and Glennis) Ferguson of Fayette; a brother, Eugene (and Virginia) VanAssche of Dearborn; a sister, Marie AuBuchon of Apache Junction, Ariz.; 36 grandchildren and 57 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers, Norbert, Andrew, and Robert; and a son-in-law, Michael Collins.

A Mass of Christian Burial is planned at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, at St. Sebastian Catholic Church in Dearborn, with Father Jeffrey Day as celebrant. Military interment will take place at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield. Visitation is scheduled from 1 to 9 p.m. Wednesday the Hackett-Metcalf Funeral Home in Dearborn.

  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

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