Leon Van Gelder passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. A resident of Washington Township, New Jersey, and Palm Beach, Florida he was 91 years old. He is survived by his sons Gregg and Todd Van Gelder, Gregg's wife Kathleen McGuckin-Van Gelder;
grandchildren Eric Van Gelder, Michael Van Gelder, Elise Van Gelder and Will Van Gelder.
He was predeceased by his beloved wife Audrey, 2020, his brother Rudy Van Gelder, 2016, and Todd's wife Margaret Elkind Van Gelder, 2014.
Funeral service will be private with interment immediately following at the George Washington Memorial Park, Paramus, NJ
Leon was born in Hackensack, New Jersey to Louis and Fannie (Sarah Cohen) Van Gelder
and grew up in Hackensack. He graduated from Hackensack High School class of 1947 skipping 10th grade due to his advanced math skills. At the age of 16, he was one of the founding members of the Bergen County Amateur Film Society. He started NYU as a pre-law major in the fall of 1947 and after one year restless to get out into the world he left NYU and enrolled in Fairleigh Dickinson. He graduated with an associate's degree in business two years later. During that same time, he constructed his first home on Lake Hopatcong in NJ. Always the entrepreneur, Leon established a successful business in 1955, Calling All Cars Auto Parts in Passaic, New Jersey. He would continue to run this business for the next 45 years while he continued to pursue all of his many other interests as well.
Leon was an incredibly skilled self-taught carpenter and master craftsman; he was responsible for the majority of the hands-on construction, including furniture building, of his homes in Lake Hopatcong and Washington Township, NJ. In 1954 he met the love of his life Audrey Oppenhiem and they were married in 1955. They traveled the world together and built and designed their dream home in Washington Township. For over 50 years they were active members of the Lincoln Center Film Society. From the beginning as members, they attended seasonal galas and viewed as many films as possible and later brought along their children and grandchildren to these events.
Along with his wife Audrey, he raised their two sons Gregg and Todd to share their love of music, concerts, art, travel, and sporting events; he loved sports and was an avid lifelong fan of the New York Yankees and New York Giants. He continued all of these traditions with his beloved and devoted grandchildren. It was no secret that Leon's greatest joy in life was spoiling his four grandchildren!
Anyone who ever met our Dad knew that they were going to hear a few jokes and a couple of stories. He always wanted to make you laugh because the joy of laughter was one of the most important things in his life. He will be missed greatly but we will always remember the love and joy he brought to all of us.