MAX M.VAN REES, JR. “MIKE”
October 13, 1946 – December 28, 2020
Max Michael Van Rees (Mike), 74, of Orlando, FL, passed away at his home on December 28, 2020, after a struggle with poor health.
Mike was born in Des Moines, IA, on October 13, 1946, the son of Max and Bette (Benoit) Van Rees. In 2016, Mike married his wife, Christin. They moved to Lake Thunderhead in Missouri for a few years, but settled back here in Orlando, Florida in 2018. Mike grew up in the Des Moines, Iowa area and attended Urbandale High School. Mike’s parents moved to Arizona for a short time, so he also attended Arcadia High School there for one year. After high school, Mike went into the service. He served in the Army during the Vietnam war. He achieved the rank of Sergeant and completed various top clearance tasks in Government Services. He was awarded several medals including, The National Defense Service medal, The Vietnam Service medal, The Vietnam Campaign medal, and Army expert marksmanship badge with M14 bar. Later Mike attended Grandview College in Des Moines, Iowa for three years. He also attended Valencia Community College in Orlando, FL, where he earned his Auto-cad Certificate.
Mike is survived by his wife, Christin of four years; two children, Suzanne Van Rees, Theresa Dulong and husband, Marc, as well as his grandchild, Madeline Dulong. Mike’s surviving brother is Chris and wife, Kim Van Rees. Surviving sisters are Sharon Lyle; Patti and husband, Bob Henry; Katy and husband, Bruce Ray; and Cindy and husband, Don Llewellyn. He is also survived by two brother in laws, Dominic Caligiuri and Harold Kinne. In addition to his parents, Mike was preceded in death by his first wife of 45 years, Eileen Van Rees, as well as his sisters, Korky Caligiuri and Connie Kinne.
Mike had several nieces and nephews, (Lisa L., Tim L., Rob H., Chris H., Kris P., Kelli K., Katie K., Bill S., Sean C,, Chris V., Katy S., and Dustin J.). He was known to them and their families as animated, smart, generous, kind, awesome, Uncle Mike.
Throughout Mike’s lifetime he worked in retail, sales, and food service. Prior to retirement, Mike was a Consultant where he designed concessions for several sports stadiums, convention centers, restaurants and casinos all over the United States, Canada, and the Far East. He was very meticulous and detailed when it came to his designing and computer work. His career led to many accomplishments and he enjoyed his work immensely. Mike served as mentor and teacher to many who worked with him and was well respected in his field.
Mike was kind-hearted and loved to make people laugh and smile because if he could make that happen, it made him happy. He is one of the most generous people anyone could ever know. He was often described as a person who would “give the shirt off his back” to help someone. He truly enjoyed giving more than receiving. Mike was a man of his word. He was very protective of his family and has kept some of his life’s experiences private as a result.
Mike was especially generous to any siblings not able to take part in family gatherings for cruises and out of town get togethers. He always wanted everyone to be able to be part of the family re-unions and trips. It brought joy to him to do for others.
In year’s past he enjoyed playing cards with his dad, brother, and brother in laws. He loved to bluff and generally lost! He also enjoyed going to horse and dog races. He particularly liked going to the Aksarben horse races in Omaha, Nebraska. A day of racing was usually followed by a steak dinner before going home.
In Missouri he became very connected with the Mennonite community. When he hired some of the Mennonite men to work on his home, there was a joke when it came time to pay, that it was going to break him. He would tell them that and he would now have to live on ketchup soup. The men got such a kick out of this joke, that they presented him with a #10 can of ketchup one day. The joke was on Mike this time, and thus he was lovingly known as “The Ketchup Man.”
Mike always had a smile on his face. In Florida he loved to sit on the front porch and talk to people as they walked by. He didn’t know a stranger. That really was his philosophy in life: Treat everyone like a friend.
Mike loved to enjoy Happy Hour with friends and family. In 2020, it became a Virtual Happy Hour. Mike was usually at the center of things, when it came to dining out at restaurants, especially the ones he had a hand in designing. He had a wonderful sense of humor, always joking with the staff, and he was a great tipper!
One fun family memory was a guy’s spring training trip to Arizona. Mike was in charge and handled everything. It was fun to see him interact with his stadium customers. All respected him and truly treated him like a friend. Mike treated family to a hotel, seats, booze and everything they could imagine. It was totally a man’s man trip to share with all!
Mike also liked heading over to New Smyrna Beach, FL for local activities, such as The Jazz Festival and the Annual Boat Parade. Once again, a group activity where he made everyone smile, with his love for fun and entertainment. He was a great lover of music, especially “the blues”.
While Mike was around a group a lot of the time, he also was good to talk to one on one. Mike loved to drive and once when he was visiting his sister, Patti, she told him she needed to run an errand. Mike offered to drive her, and it was just the two of them. They drove around and talked for a long time. A simple thing, but memorable. You could always count on Mike to help you out, or talk things out, if ever you needed him.
Mike was introduced to his wife, Christin by his sister, Sharon, who knew Christin would always be there for him. Mike and Christin made the most of their life together. They enjoyed traveling together on Mike’s business trips, as well as visiting family in and out of state. They loved cruising and dining out. Christin often referred to Mike as her “Prince,” an appropriate name for a man with such a royal heart. Mike’s family especially wants to acknowledge Christin for the care she has given to him in the past few years.
Mike will be missed, but the positive memories will last forever.