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Harold A DeRuiter

October 20, 1923 December 9, 2020
Harold A DeRuiter
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Obituary for Harold A DeRuiter

On December 9, 2020, Harold A. DeRuiter was welcomed into eternal life with the Lord after 97 years of adventures as a loving family man, loyal friend, honored veteran, and master carpenter.

Born on October 20, 1923, Harold’s young life is the story of the greatest generation. He grew up during the challenges of the Depression and stepped up to serve his country when World War II broke out, signing up with the 368th Army Engineers. Harold served with honor, crossing Utah Beach into Normandy after D-Day, building bridges and pipelines all the way into Germany until the Allies’ victory was secured there.

After the war, Harold returned to his family’s home in Harvey, Illinois. Soon after, he met the love of his life, the clever and beautiful Nellie DeVries. Following the blossoming of their friendship and a series of glamorous roller-skating dates in the big city, the two were married on June 5, 1948. They continued to share a great many adventures until Nellie’s passing in 2018.

Harold was a master carpenter by trade, with no project too large, too small, or too complex. After perfecting his carpentry skills, he and Nellie blazed a trail to Wisconsin’s Northwoods along with Nellie’s parents in 1949. Together they built 3D’s Resort on Dam Lake (now known as Bear Paw Vacation Homes) from the ground up, nail by nail, log by log, with their own sawmill. Their hard work and can-do mindset created not just a successful family business but a very special vacation destination which created priceless memories for their guests.

Nellie and Harold also built their own wonderful family during these years, with the joyful additions of their daughter Diane and son Randy. To them Harold passed on the value of hard work and determination, his sense of humor, love of family, and gratitude for God’s blessings. After over 15 years of dedication to 3D’s, Harold and his family passed the resort on to a new family and returned to Illinois, where he continued work as a proud Union carpenter.

Harold and Nellie were called back to the Northwoods after retirement in 1985, where they settled in St Germain and renewed many of their old friendships. Harold’s passion for woodworking fueled countless hours in his workshop dedicated to enhancing his home, building fine furniture, and creating intricate wooden treasures which so many friends and family have enjoyed over the years.

Harold truly lived his life to the fullest. He was a loving husband and father, devoted friend, and a very special Grandpa. He was proud to be an American of Dutch descent and would often quip, “If you’re not Dutch, you’re not much!” with a twinkle in his eye. He loved dogs, particularly dachshunds, (and tolerated one cat that we know of). He was an excellent cook who deemed onions a vital ingredient in every dish, and had a great sense of humor further enhanced by the occasional “mar-tooni”. Much more than a carpenter building things with wood, Harold and his partner-in-life Nellie built a strong family and solid friendships that will endure.

With Harold’s peaceful passing he has joined his beloved wife Nellie in Heaven, along with parents Cornelius and Estelle, brother Robert, and more loved ones. He is survived and dearly missed by his children Diane (Ray) Weber, Randy (Val) DeRuiter; sister-in-law Hilda; grandchildren Gari, Stacey, Ann, Becky, Michael, and Daniel; seven great grandchildren, nieces and nephews and many lifelong friends.

The family would also like to thank the staff at Milestone Senior Living in Eagle River and Dr. Kate Hospice Care for their outstanding care for Harold.

A memorial service and celebration of Harold’s life will be held at a later date in 2021.

Condolences may be expressed online at

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Howard Young Foundation - Dr. Kate Hospice Patient Care


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