James Merrit Van Lare

August 26, 1942 ~ May 27, 2023 (age 80) 80 Years Old
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In Loving Memory: James Merritt Van Lare

August 26, 1942 – May 27, 2023

With sadness we announce the loss of James M. Van Lare, ‘Big Jim’ or ‘Pops’.

Born on August 26, 1942, Big Jim was someone whose vibrant spirit touched the lives of all who knew him. He was always ready with a smile and a joke to brighten anyone's day. He had an incredible wit that would leave everyone in stitches. Big Jim was a devoted father, loving grandfather, and a man with a passion for race cars, hot rods, and life itself. He left us on May 27, 2023, leaving behind a void in our hearts that we will fill with cherished memories.

Big Jim grew up with an appreciation for the power of engines and the freedom of the open road, both passions that would shape his life. Big Jim had an unwavering love for the dirt track, sprint cars and hot rods. He was a true aficionado. Whether it was attending events at the local dirt tracks or watching races on TV, he immersed himself in the world of sprint car racing, finding joy in every moment. His dedication to this passion inspired those close to him and left a lasting impact, inspiring his sons and grandson to continue his legacy by racing.

In addition to his love for racing, Big Jim was a long-haul truck driver by trade for the majority of his life. He spent countless hours on the open road, embracing the freedom and adventure that came with his profession. Through his work he crisscrossed the highways of our nation and the beauty of our diverse landscapes while embracing the allure of the open road. He knew the roads so well that he could tell you exactly where you were driving if you told him the mile marker number. He was respected and admired for his professionalism and fellow drivers often sought his wisdom and advice.

In his leisure time, Big Jim enjoyed the simple pleasures of life. Whether tinkering at Jim’s shop, hanging out at the car wash, making his rounds checking up on his family, or spending time with friends, he approached every moment with a zest for life. His quick wit and kindness endeared him to all who had the privilege of knowing him.

Above all, family was most important. Big Jim is survived by his sons, James Van Lare (Annette) and Donny Van Lare (Kristy), and his grandsons Howard Van Lare and Wyatt Van Lare. His sons and grandsons will carry on his legacy. He is also survived by his former wife and best friend, Janet Schneider.

Sadly, Big Jim was predeceased by his beloved granddaughter Courtney Van Lare. Although she is no longer with us, her memory will forever be treasured and held close to our hearts. In this difficult time, may their souls find peace and eternal rest together.

Big Jim's departure leaves a void that can never be filled, but his memory will live on through the stories, laughter, and the profound impact he made on the lives of his family and friends. His zest for life, his love for his family, and his infectious humor will continue to inspire and uplift us in our own journeys.

Let us remember him with joy and gratitude for the remarkable person he was. In our hearts, he will forever remain a beloved father, grandfather, friend, and a true legend in the racing community.

Rest in peace, dear Big Jim, and may your spirit forever race on in the great beyond.

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