Carl Ian Van Gelder | Passages

March 21, 1947 – November 21, 2018

Born in England, Ian was raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. Toward the end of high school, he moved with his parents and five siblings to Sydney, Australia, where he spent the better part of the next 20 years. Ian maintained a strong Orcas connection, having grown up coming to Camp Indralaya with his family in the summers and returning for visits over his time in Australia.

Ian came to live in the U.S. in 1984 after studying acupuncture in Australia and China. In 1988, he realized a dream when he moved to Orcas. Ian immediately became involved with two fledgling efforts — the Healing Arts Center and the beginnings of OPAL Community Land Trust. Both efforts have thrived with Ian’s involvement and contributions to each spanning the following three decades.

Ian will be remembered in many ways, but possibly best as an acupuncturist in our small community. In addition to 30 years at the Healing Arts Center, Ian also practiced in Friday Harbor for 27 years. Ian treated thousands of islanders with compassionate and competent care. He was well known for his gracious “bedside manner,” good advice and kindness to those in pain.

Indralaya remained close to Ian’s heart throughout his life, from his first visit there in 1951 to his last visit this fall. Indralaya offered Ian community, family, retreat and shared work over decades of friendship and connection. Ian offered Indralaya much over the years, from board service to rose pruning and more. That said, arguably the most important thing for Ian about Indralaya is that it is where he met Kari.

Ian came later in life to marriage and fatherhood. He could not have been more delighted in both, especially since he was fairly certain that ship had sailed at the age of 47. That’s when he fell in love with a 21-year-old. It didn’t seem promising, and certainly raised a lot of eyebrows. Ian and Kari were ultimately undeterred and were married in 1998 at Indralaya. Their marriage was a happy one, two strong people navigating together through their shared life. Margot Rose was born in 2001. Ian was an endearingly doting dad, interested in all things Margot right through to his last days. Margot could not have asked for a more loving father.

Having been healthy his entire life, getting cancer came as quite a shock to Ian. He came around quickly to the truth of what was happening to his body. From that point on, he faced his approaching death without anger or fear. He came home to be on Hospice and spent his last three months giving all the love he could to those around him. He was sorry to be leaving his beautiful, well-lived life in this beautiful, well-loved island community.

Ian is survived by his wife Kari, their daughter Margot, his loving Van Gelder family, and his extended and extensive chosen family which includes in-laws, Indralayans, treasured colleagues, neighbors, long time patients, Oddfellows and many, many friends.

A memorial service is planned for Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, at the Orcas Center.

By Ian’s request, all gifts in his memory can be made to Margot’s college fund in Kari’s name at Washington Federal Bank, Eastsound branch. Margot will head to Western Washington University in September 2019.