Man remembered as very active

Published 10:16 am Monday, July 11, 2011

Leroy Van Proosdy, of Austin, sits outside the cabin he built in Aitken, Minn. -- Photo provided

For some men, there’s never enough time in a day to do everything they want, whether it’s work, hobbies, clubs or time spent with family. That’s why Leroy Cornelius Van Proosdy, of Austin, did everything he wanted to, even in the last six months of his life while he battled cancer.

He died June 27, 2011, at his home, in Austin. He was 77.

He was born near Hollandale, Minn., on Jan. 2, 1934, the first of three children, to Cornelius and Necia (Penney) Van Proosdy. People referred to him as Dutch, like his father and grandfather were.

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Leroy married Grace Wasmoen in October 1954 at Grace Lutheran Church in Albert Lea, after he had already finished college and became a professional musician. According to Grace, he was always busy.

Though Leroy played the tuba and sang for the Northwestern Singers for many years, he struggled with a stutter since the age of 6. But people who knew him say it never affected his singing.

Family and friends held a 21 golf shot salute for Leroy Van Proosdy’s funeral services, as he started his own golf club with nearly 40 members years ago. -- Photo provided

“I think it was another demonstration to himself and the people around him that even with those handicaps, you can overcome the challenges in life,” said Charles Mills, who served with Leroy on the Lions Club, of which Leroy was most recently president. “The saying goes that he was trying to tell somebody something, and they said ‘(darn it), Dutch, sing it to me!’” Mills added, and pointed out how people liked to tease Leroy, especially his choice of food at Johnny’s Restaurant.

Along with a stutter, Leroy overcame a physical complication with his dexterity.

That surely drew some attention on the golf course, as Leroy played left-handed with a right-hand grip. He formed his own golf club years ago, and more than 20 members played every Monday at area courses. The grip worked well, too, as Leroy shot four holes-in-one in his lifetime (he also bowled six, 700 series in his life). Now, there will be an annual golf tournament in Leroy’s honor, with a traveling trophy his friends can pass among each other.

“It will last forever,” Grace said.

Though Leroy was a golfer, musician, club leader, fisherman, auto mechanic, welder, machine operator and craftsman, he didn’t dabble in things lightly. He dedicated himself to his activities, said Grace, Mills and Leroy’s daughter, Mary Franz.

“He seemed to crawl the ladder awful fast,” Grace said about Leroy’s abilities in everything he did. “He always amazed me.”

One of Leroy’s recent undertakings was a cabin he built near Aitken, Minn. One of the leisures he enjoyed with his family. Family was another area to which Leroy was dedicated. He had 22 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

“He really bragged about that,” Grace said. “He was a good husband, and I miss him.”

Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Grace; five children, John (Janet), James (Lisa), Peter (Teresa), Mary (Thomas) Franz, Martha Miller of Bloomington; brothers, Kenneth Van Proosdy, Richard (Joyce); 22 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his grandson, Aaron and his parents.

Though Leroy was always busy, he found time to stay active even after contracting a muscular disease in 1995 and developing lung just months ago.

“He was doing everything he loved up until the day he died,” Mary said.