John E. Van Kirk

John E Van Kirk

MADISON – John E. Van Kirk, age 69, of Madison, passed away on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, at Meriter Hospital.

He was born on March 29, 1952, in Sparta, Wis., the son of Raymond Van Kirk and Beverly (Rich) Heilman.

John graduated from Sparta High School in 1970 and a few years later moved to Madison. Meeting his wife, Yvonne Rego, in his early twenties, they soon began a loving marriage which spanned 43 years of utter devotion. They were soul mates, best friends and did everything together. Together they raised two beautiful daughters, Melissa and Courtney, with dutiful vigilance, compassionate understanding, and unwavering love and support.

John worked as a plant manager at Aramark for 29 years. Following early retirement, John devoted his time and attention to the things that meant the most to him – his family, friends, and numerous hobbies. He loved having the house filled with laughter and passed down many traditions to his children and grandchildren including all the time spent with them at their favorite place, the cabin. John had a great sense of humor, was a jokester and a wonderful storyteller. He had a great memory and could recall every detail perfectly. John saw the best in everyone that he met and was never too far away to be there for the people he loved.

John was an avid outdoorsman. He spent countless hours deer hunting, turkey hunting, and soaking up nature at the cabin that he and his family built. He took pride in growing, harvesting, canning, and sharing vegetables from his garden each year. John had a true passion for cooking for family and friends and loved that his meals brought everyone together. Some of John’s other hobbies included showing off his pool skills, coaching his daughter’s softball team, target shooting, and going on fishing trips with his buddies.

John is survived by his wife, Yvonne Van Kirk; daughters, Melissa Van Kirk and Courtney (Stuart) Cerdena; grandchildren, Kaden, Riley and Mayci Cerdena; sisters, Sue (Rodney) Aney and Sharon Wisnaski; brothers, Mike (Jamie) Van Kirk, Jeff Van Kirk and Scott Van Kirk; and many other beloved relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his father, Raymond Van Kirk, Sr.; stepmother, Margaret Van Kirk; stepfather, Jim Heilman; brothers, Raymond Van Kirk, Jr., and David Allen Van Kirk; brother-in-law, David “Wiz” Wisnaski; sister-in-law, Cheryl Van Kirk; father-in-law, Bill Rego; and mother-in-law, Marybel Rego.

A celebration of life will be held at EAST SIDE CLUB, 3735 Monona Drive, Madison, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021.

Memorials may be made to the family. Online condolences may be made at

Gunderson East
Funeral & Cremation Care
5203 Monona Drive
(608) 221-5420