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In Memory of Dr. Paul R. Vandersteen


10:00 am - 10:00 am
Friday June 17, 2022
Bethel Lutheran Church - Highlands Campus
504 Frontage Road
Hudson WI, 54016

Memorial Service

11:00 am
Friday June 17, 2022
Bethel Lutheran Church - Highlands Campus
504 Frontage Road
Hudson WI, 54016

Paul Vandersteen, MD, 85, passed away on May 12th, 2022, after a courageous battle with lung cancer. 


Paul was born on September 2, 1936 as the only child of Rudolph Richard and Mabel Clare (Tybering) Vandersteen in St. Paul, Minnesota.  He was raised in South St. Paul and graduated from high school in 1954.  He obtained a BS at Hamline University with a Bachelor of Science, Summa Cum Laude, in 1958, and MD at the University of Minnesota Medical School (1962). 


Paul interned at Minneapolis General Hospital (62-63). During that time, after two short dates, Paul proposed to the love of his life, Bette Jean Nelson, of Viroqua, Wisconsin.  They married on June 16th, 1962. They immediately packed their bags and moved from the big city to the remote area of Fort Yates, ND where Paul was stationed as an officer and S.A. Surgeon in the U.S. Public Health Service at Standing Rock Indian Reservation for two years. 


They moved to Minot, ND where Paul was a General Practioner at the Medical Arts Clinic. After experiencing the increasing limitations imposed on him as a General Practitioner, Paul was motivated to continue his education in Dermatology. He, Bette and their two young sons packed their bags and moved to Rochester, MN, where Paul became a Dermatology Fellow at Mayo Clinic (1967-70). Simultaneously, Paul completed his Master of Science in Dermatology as the rigors of residency were not enough to appease his intellectual curiosity.


The family moved to Fargo, ND, where Paul joined the Fargo Clinic (Merit Care, Sanford Health) and had a long, dedicated and illustrious practice as a Dermatologist (1970-2009).  He also worked at Essentia Health in Duluth in 2008. 


Paul received numerous accolades for his dedication and service as a physician highlighted by the Louis A. Brunsting award for outstanding research in Dermatology and, in 2020, the prestigious Alumnus of the Year Award from Mayo Clinic Department of Dermatology.  


Paul authored numerous peer reviewed medical articles in addition to his infamous master’s thesis on Ichthyosiform dermatoses, for many years the largest thesis in Mayo’s Library!


Paul was a member of several medical organizations and the past president of both the Minnesota and North Dakota Dermatologic Societies.  He was a dedicated member of the prestigious Noah Worcester Dermatology Society. He will be remembered for his steadfast devotion to his patients and his colleagues.


Paul and Bette had a long, loving and devoted marriage for nearly six decades.  They enjoyed traveling, supporting their grandchildren, and were actively involved in their churches. Towards the end, they simply enjoyed being at home, cherishing the blessings of each other.  


Paul was at his finest supporting and encouraging each of his children in their academic, athletic and musical pursuits.  “V for Vandersteen, V for victory” frequently echoed through many sporting venues as he not so subtly encouraged his children to succeed.  Paul enjoyed his time fishing in Canada with Daniel’s family, exploring the wilderness with Peter, traipsing around St. Louis with Rachel’s clan and hanging out with David’s family on Lake Minnetonka and reunions at Grand View Lodge.


Paul enjoyed virtually any activity that raised his heart rate and made him sweat.  He took to his athletic activities with the same drive and determination as he did his academic pursuits. He started the swim team at South Saint Paul High School and swam competitively at Hamline University, a sport he continued throughout his life. He promoted a family interest in tennis, and he and Bette organized annual cross country skiing adventures at Maple Lag. For many years he rode to work on his Schwinn bicycle sporting fluorescent orange saddle bags.


He and Bette moved to Hudson, WI in 2011 to be closer to family.


Paul was dedicated to lifelong learning. He enthusiastically studied Norwegian language and culture. He was passionate about his relationship with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He faithfully engaged in multiple weekly Zoom Bible Studies despite COVID, cancer progression, and chemotherapy. These studies continued into his last week of life.  His intellectual curiosity was never sated.


Paul is survived by his wife of 59 years, Bette, his children: Dr. David Vandersteen, Dr. Daniel Vandersteen, Peter Vandersteen and Rachel (Michael) Hennies, grandchildren: Melissa, Micah, Elyse, Daniel, Maxwell, Caleb, and Rudy Vandersteen, Soren, Oden and Annika Hennies and step granddaughter Madison Thomas.


He is also survived by former daughters-in-law Victoria (Haffner) Vandersteen, Susan (Olson) Vandersteen, Naomi (Thomas) Vandersteen, Julie Flicker, and cousins Cecelia Kothe and Richard (Vivian) Nelson.


He was preceded in death by his parents and two grandsons Lucas and Jacob Hennies.


The family expresses their gratitude to all those who have provided care and comfort during the last months of Paul’s life. We especially would like to thank the staff at Lakeview Hospital Hospice Care, Hudson Hospital, and Pillars Hospice House.


A celebration of Paul’s life will be held 11:00 a.m. on June 17, 2022, at Bethel Lutheran Church – Highlands Campus in Hudson, Wisconsin, with visitation an hour before the service.  Paul’s service will be livestreamed through the Bethel Lutheran Church Youtube page. Masks are preferred. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Bethel Lutheran Church, Hope Lutheran Church (Fargo, ND), or the American Lung Association.


Services are entrusted to O’Connell Family Funeral Homes and Countryside Crematory, 520 S 11th Street, Hudson, WI, 54016, (715) 386-3725 www.oconnellfuneralhomes.com

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Dr. Paul R.'s Tribute Wall

Tributes (3):

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    • Bette and family- we were planning on coming to Paul’s service but due to Covid exposure in our family we decided to not attend. Paul had so much love for you all. He had a lot passion, energy and enthusiasm no matter what he was pursuing. It is great to know he was enthusiastic about Bible study right to the end of his earthly days -his faith I am sure gave him strength and hope during the past trying months. The memories of practicing in the same location for over 20 years are fading but his voice and smile will never be forgotten. May the Lord bless and keep you all and grant you peace as you morn the loss of Paul in your days ahead but with eternal hope which is beyond our understanding.

    • Betty we are so sorry to hear of Paul’s passing! Our thoughts & prayers are with you & your family!
      Sue & Deb

    • Thank-you Dr. Vandersteen for your excellent care and compassion as my Dematologist for 20 some years. You always were on top of the latest research and treatments for me. You did make a difference in your patient’s lives. With your care you freed me from a long standing skin condition. God bless you and your family. I