Robert "Bobby" VanDerVeer

A lover of football, motocross, and especially his two sons, Robert "Bobby" VanDerVeer died on Saturday, April 30, 2016. He was 48.

Born in Niskayuna on June 9, 1967, Mr. VanDerVeer grew up in Voorheesville in a home across from the firehouse, on top of the hill on Dommorro Drive. His favorite restaurant in the village, says his mother, Donna Jean Tork, was Smith’s Tavern, or “Smitty’s.”

Growing up in the village, Mr. VanDerVeer spent much of his time racing motocross, classes 125cc and 150cc. After receiving his first two-wheeler at age 5, he began racing at age 8, stopping at 18 after he broke his hand. His mother said he decided it was a sign from above that he should move on from racing.

After graduating from Voorheesville’s high school, Mr. VanDerVeer, who was Catholic, went to Siena College, but after the first week he came home to tell his mother he was doomed. He wasn’t, and four years later he had graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business, which he put to use working in real estate in North Port, Florida, after moving there in 1999. After putting up with cold weather for most of his life, Mr. VanDerVeer was glad to move to Florida. His mother said he had always hated the cold.

“He always said he was moving to Florida, and that’s what he did,” she said. She herself moved to the state five years after he did, to see him and her grandchildren.

“His two boys were his life,” said Mrs. Tork.

As a single father, Mr. VanDerVeer devoted himself to his two sons. When they played youth soccer, he coached it. When they played baseball, and then football, he coached those too. But football was his game of choice. In high school, his mother says, he tried out for the team but weighed too little to pass the physical.

“So he took it out on his kids, and they played,” she said, “And he’ll be watching.”

Mr. VanDerVeer’s favorite football team was the Minnesota Vikings.

“From the time he could barely talk,” says Mrs. Tork, “I don’t know why, but he was always a Minnesota Vikings Fan.

The only child of Mrs. Tork, Mr. VanDerVeer was her “brat-baby.” She doesn’t know why she started calling him that, but it became her affectionate nickname for him.

“I miss him desperately,” she said, “He’ll always be on my mind, he’ll always be my brat-baby.”

Mrs. Tork has Mr. VanDerVeer’s date of birth and death tattooed on her back with the phrase, “Brat-baby, walk with me forever.”

“So he’ll always be with me,” she says.


Robert “Bobby” VanDerVeer is survived by his fiancée, Mishelle Lynn Smith of North Port, Florida; his mother, Donna Jean Tork of Port Charlotte, Florida; his father, Gerald R. VanDerVeer of Voorheesville; his sons, Christian R. VanDerVeer and Brandon R. VanDerVeer of North Port; his sister, Dani VanDerVeer-Keller of Voorheesville; and several aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Relatives and friends gathered at the Reilly & Son Funeral Home, Voorheesville on Saturday morning and proceeded to the South Berne Cemetery where graveside services took place.

— H. Rose Schneider

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