MAZON – Kenneth Vande Velde used his love for motorized dirt bike racing to bond with his stepson, Ryan Crowley of Mazon.
“They liked racing them and working on them together,” said Kenneth’s wife, Jennifer Vande Velde of Mazon.
Kenneth, 45, was seen falling from his motorized dirt bike at the Joliet Motorsports racetrack and was rushed to Presence St. Joseph Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy by the Will County Coroner did not reveal injuries but did show he had a heart condition.
Jennifer did not know Kenneth had a heart condition.
“Last Saturday he woke up with burning in his lungs, and I took him to Morris Hospital at 2 a.m.,” Jennifer said. “They diagnosed him with bronchitis, nothing else.”
Jennifer said the entire family supported Kenneth’s love for racing. They attended practices and races together. Jennifer said Joliet Motorsports named them Moto Family of the Year. But everyone at the track was like one family, she said.
Kenneth also has two stepdaughters, Brittany Crowley and Heather Cartwright. He and Jennifer have a daughter, Samantha Vande Velde, 10. Jennifer said Kenneth went to all of her softball games and played softball and Frisbee with her in the yard.
“He was a quiet and loving and thoughtful and wonderful father,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer said Kenneth was a supervisor at Exelon’s Dresden Station in Morris, where Kenneth worked for 20 years.
Kenneth also is survived by one grandson, Mason; his parents, Fred and Alice Vande Velde of Florida; a brother, Robert (Jennifer) Vande Velde of Dunkirk, NY; and a sister, Christine Vande Velde. Funeral services for Ken M. Vande Velde will be at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Fred C. Dames Funeral Home, 1201 West Route 6 at Deerpath Drive, Morris. Visitation is from 4 to 8 p.m. For information, call 815-942-5040 or visit www.fredcdames.com.