Gustaaf August Van der Waerden
  • In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to:
  • Capuchin Soup Kitchen
    1820 Mt. Elliott Street
    Detroit, MI 48027

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Memories & Candles

“My father, Gerald Harris (Jerry) wanted me to pass on his deepest condolences on the passing of his good friend, Gus. He stated he knew Gus for...Read More »
1 of 13 | Posted by: Amy Harris - AZ

“Mieken,Margaret,Theresa,Karl,John& ChristopherPlease accept our sympathy on the passing of your Father. He was such a gentle man & a good friendIt...Read More »
2 of 13 | Posted by: Raymond Yanok - Novi, MI - Friend

“Dear Mieken,With great sorrow we read that Gus passed away. We would like to express our sincere condolences to you and your entire family.Best...Read More »
3 of 13 | Posted by: Dirk Ruettgerodt - friend

“Karl, we extend our deepest sympathy in the passing of your dad. Let your good memories help you through this difficult time. The Pattyn Family ”
4 of 13 | Posted by: The Pattyn Family - Warren, MI

“Meiken, Thinking of you during this time of transition and sending you much love. ”
5 of 13 | Posted by: Travis Waldron - MI - Friend

“Mieken,So sorry of your father's passing. May all your memories keep you at peace. ”
6 of 13 | Posted by: Deb Angevine - Lansing, MI

“Christopher, my sincere condolences. Even though we only had the chance to meet twice, my thoughts are with you and your family.As you look almost...Read More »
7 of 13 | Posted by: Jonathan Vergucht - Aspelare

“We were next door neighbors to Gus and Denise in Warren for many years. He and Dick we're as close as brothers. Often golfed together.We have never...Read More »
8 of 13 | Posted by: Richard and Dinah Bryant - FL

“Please accept our condolences on the loss of your father. May your memories help you through this difficult time. ”
9 of 13 | Posted by: Judy and Carl Marchlewicz

“We are deeply saddened by the news of the loss of your dad.May the love of those around you and the good memories give you comfort and strength to...Read More »
10 of 13 | Posted by: Mieke Elskens Le Vilhain. France

“Our deepest condolences to the family. May many great memories help fill the void in your hearts. ”
11 of 13 | Posted by: Darlene and Jim guracech - MI

“Dear Mieken, Margaret, Theresa, Karl, John and Christopher. We wish to the family our sincere condolence with the passed away from your father Gus.We...Read More »
12 of 13 | Posted by: Greta Coppens - Aalst - Family

“Dear Mieken, Margaret, Theresa, Karl, John, and Christopher.We wish to extend our deepest sympathies with you and your family.Guido & Badia ”
13 of 13 | Posted by: Guido and Badia Danckaeert

Gustaaf August Van der Waerden passed away on June 14, 2017 in his son's home in Charlotte, North Carolina, just shy of celebrating his 88th birthday.

Gus was born in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan on July 13, 1929, as a first generation American in the last days of the Roaring Twenties. Gus was the first child of Emil Van der Waerden and Nathalie Beekman Van der Waerden, both of whom had immigrated to the United States from Flanders, Belgium. Gus spent his childhood on the east side of Detroit along with his younger sister, Rosalie.

Gus was an outstanding athlete from an early age, and had a particular passion for basketball. When his father, who wanted him to concentrate on his studies, offered to pay for Gus' university tuition on the condition that he give up the sport, Gus refused. Instead, he won a full basketball scholarship to college. While a college athlete, Gus earned two engineering degrees – first in civil engineering from the Detroit Institute of Technology, and then in mechanical engineering from the University of Detroit. He went on to earn an additional Master's degree in business management from Central Michigan University.

Basketball again played a fateful role in Gus' life when, at the age of 22, he was drafted into the U.S. Armed Forces during the Korean War. Thanks to Gus' exceptional athletic abilities, he was selected for both the United States Army basketball and baseball teams, and played in tournaments across Europe and Africa.

Upon his return from military service, Gus met and fell in love with Denise D'Haeseleer, a young Belgian university student studying abroad in the United States. After Denise returned home to Belgium, Gus proposed by letter, and she came back to the United States to marry him in November 1955.

Gus began his engineering career with the City of Detroit, and later moved to Federal government service, working for the United States Department of Defense at the U.S. Army Tank Automotive and Armaments Command. He went on to become Chief Engineer responsible for the M1 Abrams, the U.S. military's main battle tank to this day. Gus remained in Federal Service for 36 years.

Gus and Denise remained devoted to each other for 50 years, until Denise's sudden death in 2005. Together they raised six children – Mieken, Margaret, Theresa, Karl, John, and Christopher. Gus was extraordinarily devoted, loyal, and generous to his family and friends, always ready to help. His family also knew well his playful mischievous side, often expressed with a wonderful twinkle in his eye. Gus always remained humble, never one to talk about his many accomplishments.

Gus served his country his entire life, but he always remembered his roots in Belgium. Gus' children, grandchildren, and extended family – now spread across the country and the world – will gather together in both countries to honor his life, and will always carry him in their hearts.

Visitation with Gus' family will take place on Thursday, June 22nd from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the D.S. Temrowski & Sons Funeral Home, 30009 Hoover Road at Common (12 1/2 Mile Rd) in Warren.

Gus will lie in state on Friday, June 23rd from 9:00 am until time of the Funeral Mass at 9:30 am at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church, 31555 Hoover Road in Warren, Michigan. A luncheon will follow at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan.

A Funeral Mass for family and friends in Belgium will be celebrated simultaneously at Sint Anna Kerk in Denderleeuw, Belgium.

Interment will take place on Saturday, June 24th at St. Thomas Catholic Cemetery in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen of Detroit ( or the Alzheimer's Association (

Please share memories of Gustaaf at his memory book above.