Story by Ruth Nicolaus The Mid States East Rodeo Association member lived in Texas for five years before moving back to her parents’ farm in […]
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Meet the Member Chuck Van Keuren
story by Rayne Sherman
Thirteen years ago Chuck Van Keuren, of Fowlerville, Mich., hung up his spurs to pursue interests outside of rodeo. He decided to come out of retirement in 2015 to travel and compete with his daughter, Casey, who purchased a new barrel horse. Early in the season Casey received a promotion at work preventing her from being able to travel, but Chuck decided to keep competing. “I’ve been blessed to be able to compete again. It wasn’t about showing the kids what I could or couldn’t do, it was nice to make new friends and get back in touch with old ones. For me, rodeo is all about the people,” said Chuck.
Chuck grew up in Kentwood, a suburb of Grand Rapids on Michigan’s west side and raced motocross throughout high school. “On August 10, 1981, my buddy Todd Bailey told me my life was a mess and I needed Jesus. I agreed and I met Jesus that night. Todd took me to a Bible study and there were cowboys there and the rest is history,” stated Chuck. He began competing in 1982 and over the span of his 20 year career he was a member of the Mid States Rodeo Association (MSRA), the International Professional Rodeo Association (IPRA) and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). Chuck won the bareback championship in the MSRA in 1985 and 1986, the PRCA’s Great Lakes Circuit in 1987 and the IPRA’s Northeast Region in 1991 and 1992. He also had the opportunity to compete in Cheyenne, Calgary, Denver, Houston, San Antonio, and many of the other large indoor and outdoor rodeos. Chuck competed in bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, and bull riding. He was best at bareback riding, but bull riding was his favorite event. Coming out of retirement, Chuck competed in saddle bronc riding and qualified for the Mid States Finals Rodeo.
Ever since being saved in 1981, Chuck felt drawn to the ministry. He gave his first chapel at Hughston’s Cow Camp Rodeo in 1986 and his last in 2001 at the Longhorn Rodeo at the Palace of Auburn Hills. He always prayed with the cowboys behind the chutes and tried to speak positive things in their lives to help them mentally and spiritually. After retiring from competition in 2002, Chuck had more time to study and finally answered his calling. He attended Christian Leadership University and was ordained in May 2013. Chuck is pursuing his master’s degree and has started an outreach ministry, the Rock of Ages Cowboy Revival Ministry. This year, Chuck was honored to give a Cowboy Chapel in remembrance of the late Rudy Calzavara before the beginning of Big Hat Rodeo Company’s “2015 Forever A Cowboy” tour.
Outside of rodeo and his ministry, the 54 year old owns Sonora CNC Services. Chuck is an electrical engineer and works on CNC machine tools, automation and robotics, and computer programming. Chuck’s future plans include competing in 2016 and obtaining a building where he can hold indoor rodeo events and church services all year round.
Chuck and his wife, Dorothy, were introduced by mutual friends and have been married for 30 years. Their daughter, Casey, recently got engaged to Steven Calmeyn at the Mid States Finals Rodeo. They also have a son, Cody, who is married to Shannon. “God blessed me with a great wife and great kids. I am a blessed man,” stated Chuck.