I’d like to tell you a story of a rascal. He also happens to be one of the most amazing, loving, smart and caring gentleman who ever lived in your area, even though most of you never knew him.
Charles Keith Van Orden, who liked to be called Charles, lived in Lansing for at least 29 or 30 years.
Charles passed away on February 11, 2020 at Forsyth Medical Center from a massive stroke and cardiac arrest. My sisters and I could not let our brother, who we called Keith, just fade away as if he never existed: disappearing without a mention of what a fantastic amazing person he was. He will be deeply missed and this world truly is a much sadder place now. For us he caused the sun to shine brighter and the sky to become a perfect blue.
He did not have an easy childhood or adulthood but could always remember his amazing blessings. Even though Keith was highly intelligent he struggled in school until finally one of his teachers realized he suffered from Dyslexia then helped him learn ways to compensate.
After high school Keith set his sights on the Coast Guard which is a rather elite branch of the service; only allowing a few to join each year. Every day for a month he’d travel an hour by bus to the recruiter just to be told the quota was still met. Finally the recruiters superiors said they needed this young man who had such determination. This was the start of an incredible life. His first deployment was patrolling the rough and dangerous waters between Russia and Alaska. There was also a top secret tour in the Northeast Atlantic waters where the only contact with his wife was a four line censored letter he could write once a month. Patrolling off the coast of North Korea proved to be one of the more tense tours but the most extreme tour was the one on the top secret ship designed as a fishing ship.
Upon leaving the Coast Guard, Keith worked for a large appliance repair company where at one point he was asked to become a permanent employee of the California Hurst Estate. While enjoying a California Beach one day, he was approached by a well-known producer asking him to take a screen test. I guess I failed to say earlier just how very handsome he was when young and because of years of lifting weights had a chiseled body frame. Way back in those days he was exactly what movie studios were looking for but our brother being the rascal he was said he didn’t think so, he was saving himself for guaranteed real money and adoration.
Earning his own degree in large appliance repair did not satisfy his restlessness or need for money so he joined the Merchant Marines. A great deal of his time was spent as Chief Engineer but eventually was approached by superiors to attend an exclusive Maritime Officers Training College which enabled him to retire with full officers benefits.
The most important trait that created this kind gracious person who was our brother, was his complete devotion to Jesus and God. He loved both dearly and was always appreciative of all the many times in his life he was shown he was not alone. Keith believed completely in miracles because he knew he had benefited many times from them and was just as sure that someday he would be with God and his angels. And now he is. There is no doubt.