It is with great sorrow that we announce that Jacob Robert Van de Roovaart lost his fierce battle with brain cancer on Friday, August 4, 2023. He passed away in his Placitas, New Mexico home at the age of thirty-six.
Jacob was born on October 1, 1986 to Paul Sr. and Gale Van de Roovaart. He grew up in Pleasanton, California and was the second oldest of his four siblings: Paul Jr., Amanda, and Sara. He spent much of his childhood exploring the creek behind the family home and collecting scars by rolling down the driveway on everything with wheels. One of his favorite pastimes was playing and watching hockey. He was an avid San Jose Sharks fan and he participated in various hockey leagues for most of his life, including the Cal Poly University team. His first job was at the Kumon Learning Center, where he worked through high school and part of college.
After graduating from Amador Valley High in 2005, he spent a few years in community college before discovering his interest in design and architecture. It was in a Chabot Community College physics class in 2008 that he met his future wife, Erin. They both transferred to California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo and loved the California Central Coast so much that they built their life there. They married in 2013 with a celebration dedicated to their mutual love for all things Disney and topped off their wedding with a Disney World honeymoon.
Jacob graduated from Cal Poly with a BA in Architecture in 2015 and began working at Reiss Design Studio, where he would continue to work for the rest of his career. He and Erin bought a fixer upper in nearby Nipomo and, mostly thanks to YouTube, were able to transform the house from top to bottom. They welcomed their first daughter, Gemma, in 2019, followed by Nora in 2021. The global pandemic gave the family a desire to be closer to a support system, so when a house in New Mexico next door to grandparents went up for sale in 2021, they took a giant leap and moved halfway across the country. It didn’t take long for the Land of Enchantment to work its magic on the family, and they found comfort in the mountain views and in the community of Sagebrush Church. In 2023, Jacob committed to his faith by getting baptized on Easter Sunday.
People’s impression of Jacob was that he was a very quiet person. While he tended to be introverted at first, those who knew him recognized the rare combination of qualities that he possessed: those of a truly good person. Anyone could count on Jacob to be honest, helpful, reliable, patient, and hardworking. No matter the task, he always did his absolute best. His tenacity came in handy when he taught himself the skills necessary to remodel not one, but two homes. His patience allowed him to joyfully smile through the chaos of fatherhood and two little girls who treated him like their personal jungle gym. His drive led him to complete the arduous process of architecture licensure. His determination helped him turn his woodworking hobby into VDR Design Co, a successful Etsy business. His mindset was always that every obstacle in life could be overcome with hard work, which is really no secret, but it’s more difficult for most of us than we’d like to admit.
Jacob approached his sudden brain cancer diagnosis in May 2023 with the same grit, and a good helping of faith, knowing that survival was a longshot. His first surgery took away much of his ability to talk and move his right side, but he did everything in his power to pursue full recovery. Throughout the process, he continued to bolster his care team with his good spirits and lack of complaint. But the truth is, brain cancer is never a fair fight. From the beginning, Jacob had the best doctors and treatments, all in quick succession, but it was still not enough. It’s as if the cancer knew that Jacob was that one special type of person who could successfully beat the odds if given the chance, so it never gave him one. After three months of battling, the cancer took Jacob’s life, but it never broke his courageous spirit.
Jacob’s memory is lovingly carried in the hearts of his wife, two daughters, family, friends, and the countless people who joined his cancer journey in prayer. His creative voice resounds on every surface of the family homes that he renovated himself, the architecture projects that he contributed to, the San Luis Obispo trail signs that he designed, and the woodworking projects that he crafted for clients all over the world. We take comfort in knowing that his spirit lives on too, in heaven where he is at peace.
Jacob's Life Celebration will be held on Saturday, September 30, 2023, at 10:00am at the Castlewood Country Club located at 707 Country Club Cir, Pleasanton, CA 94566. The family asks that all those who will be attending RSVP. A video of Jacob's Life Celebration will be shared after the event.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Jacob’s memory to EndBrainCancer.org, an organization that advocates for a brain cancer cure and helps those who have been affected by this merciless disease.