GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The man known to young Christian radio listeners around the world as “Uncle Charlie” has passed away.
Charlie VanderMeer died Friday afternoon at his West Michigan home, surrounded by family and friends, according to Keys for Kids Ministries. He was 84 years old.
The Grand Rapids-based organization says VanderMeer has been a pillar of “Children’s Bible Hour” radio ministry since he was nine years old, when the host picked him out of a studio audience to participate in a live broadcast in 1943.
Uncle Charlie earned a regular spot on the program, sharing readings from “Charlie’s Scrapbook,” reciting poems, helping in dramatized stories and serving as junior emcee.
Keys for Kids Ministries says VanderMeer only left the program when he was 17 years old to pursue a college degree in radio and television production. Four years later, he rejoined “Children’s Bible Hour,” where he climbed his way up to director of ministry and radio program host.
VanderMeer’s messages aired on more than 200 radio outlets and around the world until 2016.
Keys for Kids Ministries President Greg Yoder listened to Uncle Charlie as a kid.
“I looked to him for guidance in some ways,” Yoder said. “Everybody did. He was good at what he did.”
Yoder hopes now Keys For Kids Ministries can continue to live up to VanderMeer’s legacy.
“I feel like I’m a pebble, kind of a pebble in his shoe,” Yoder said. “‘Cause he had such big shoes to fill. But to know I had his endorsement, in mutual respect, that just meant the world to me and to, I think, this organization.”
“We praise the Lord for the decades of ministry he had on BBN encouraging children through Children’s Bible Hour and Storytime,” the Bible Broadcasting Network stated on Facebook Friday.
VanderMeer leaves behind his wife of 66 years, Bette, as well as three children, eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Memorial arrangements are pending.