A Cord of Three Strands:
Don & Lyn Vande Polder
January 2023 | Written by Maribeth Griessel
A mathematical equation to solve: If you add a court reporter and a mechanical engineer, what will the answer be? Here are some hints: the court reporter is named Lyn, the mechanical (later electrical) engineer is known as Don, with the sum totals being 31 year old Samantha, a full-time homemaker married to litigation attorney Zach Schmitz in Chicago, IL; Madeleine, a 28 year old piano accompanist wed to Syrus Yeung who creates Air Force training simulations, residing in Navarre, FL; Olivia, 25 and a member of admissions team for Dordt University, living in Sioux Center, IA; and Jack, at 22 an engineer at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Bethesda, MD. Quite an equation!
Of course when Lyn Den Ouden and Donald Vande Polder married, inviting Jesus Christ to form “A Cord of Three Strands,” they began their family with the Lord at its center, a cord described in Ecclesiastes 4:12 as “not quickly broken.” And God has blessed them greatly. Let’s go back to the beginning.
Don was born to Donald, Sr., a medical doctor specializing in neurology, and Helen Van Halsema in Houston, TX, and grew up in Sarasota, FL, attending Bradenton Christian School from elementary through high school. He is the eldest of five children with three sisters and one brother. Cornie Den Ouden, a truck driver, and his wife, Evie, a plastics factory worker, welcomed three children to their family in Edgerton, MN, with Lyn the youngest, having a brother and sister, and graduating from Southwest Christian High School. All four of Don and Lyn’s parents have passed on to be with the Lord.
Lyn attended court reporting school in Sioux Falls, SD, then worked in this field for eleven years. In 1983 she moved to Bradenton, FL, for a new position. She began attending the Bradenton Christian Reformed Church where she met the Vande Polder family. It seems she became most interested in the oldest son, Don. Following their marriage they moved north to Michigan where Don earned first an undergrad degree in psychology from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, then on to Michigan State in E. Lansing for a Bachelor of Science and Mechanical Engineering, or BSME (also known as a bachelor of silliness and maniacal engineering!) This required two years of commuting 75 miles each way, every day. Lyn continued her career as a court reporter during this time, putting her husband through school.
Working for Harley Davidson as a mechanical engineer from 1997-2019, Don found it to be quite interesting doing troubleshooting, riding motorcycles all over the world on 4 continents, Asia, Europe, South and North America. An early position as production supervisor in Grand Rapids was one of his most challenging, starting each shift at 4:30 a.m. For the past 3 years Don has been an electrical engineer for Honeywell FM&T.
During her years as a court reporter, Lyn found her most challenging work to involve taking depositions from individuals with heavy accents. Once the Vande Polders moved to the Kansas City area, Lyn became a full-time, stay-at-home mother and homemaker.
25 years ago as new KC area residents the Vande Polders sought a reformed church, with Lyn literally searching the yellow pages. Though they wavered between two Presbyterian churches, their first time at Gashland “just felt right, like God was leading us here,” related Don.
Mr. Vande Polder is an active elder, chair of the Coordinating Team, a member of First Team and a former (though we have it on good authority he would be warmly welcomed back!) member of the choir. And how many of you are aware that for 15 years he played both electric and string bass in the 11:00 service? One of his favorite Bible characters is “Solomon, not just because he was wise, but was also a deeply flawed person,” he shared. And of the Psalms, Don appreciates “not just the 23rd, but the 33rd as well….I think that’s the most poetic of all the books in the Bible.” He adds that, “We choose to participate because it’s what we do, how we were brought up, to be a part of something that’s bigger than ourselves.”
Lyn added to that, “We want to give back, and we felt the Holy Spirit had lead us here.” And she certainly does give back, serving on First Team, the Coffee Team, participating in Precepts Bible Study, Women’s Ministry and as backup financial secretary for Marlene Weatherford. An important Biblical figure for her is Joseph, who “took such horrible circumstances, building them into this beautiful story.” As for scripture readings, Lyn stated, “I try to go through the Book of Proverbs at least once a year.”
The Vande Polders enjoy traveling, “basically wherever our kids are.” They both are avid readers, with Lyn leaning towards mysteries, medical and legal thrillers, i.e., by author John Grisham. Her husband is a history fan, such as books by Bernard Cornwell and Andrew Klavan. He also has an ambitious reading project in process…reading a book about every, yes, every, country in the world! While Don describes himself as a “frustrated gardener”, his wife is an active walker, taking classes at The Y, as well as doing embroidery and cooking. And both of them enjoy the arts, concerts, both indoor and outdoor.
A couple of last surprising details about this interesting couple….when Lyn was growing up in Edgerton every single classmate and every teacher in her school had a pure Dutch background. Oh, and her family were proud owners of a Ford Edsel! (How many of you remember that citrusy, as in ‘lemon,’ vehicle?) And Don’s family actually served figgy pudding (as in “We Wish You a Merry Christmas, so bring us some figgy pudding…”) every year at Christmastime. For those uninformed among us, it’s actually more of a cake, and made with actual suet!