YORKVILLE — If you asked most people how they knew David Vyvyan — and that just might be every single man, woman and child in the Town of Yorkville — you could expect to hear them rattle off a list a mile long.
If you didn’t know him from Yorkville United Methodist Church — where his family has worshiped for generations — you might know him for his work as a 4-H Leader, a Racine County Fair volunteer, his 39-year career with Young Radiator in Racine, his equally lengthy tenure as the Union Grove and Yorkville building inspector, his decades on the Yorkville Elementary School Board or from one of the more than 160 foster children he and his wife, Beverly, took care of during their 55 years of marriage.
The beloved community leader who spent nearly every day of his time on this earth working for or serving the people of Western Racine County, died Wednesday. He was 80 years old.
“He just had a stamina that kept him going; he was like my dad,” Sherry Gruhn said Saturday of her late brother.
That verve, matched with a love of people and community, made him the kind of person who could rarely go out without stopping to have long conversations with people he knew, recalled his daughter, Deborah DeBrabander.
“He had no desire to travel outside the community. Yorkville was his world,” DeBrabander said.
That love for community and people was perhaps best exemplified by the 167 foster children the Vyvyans took in during their five-decade marriage.
“That was the star in their crown,” said fellow Yorkville United Methodist Church member Carol Knight, the former executive director of the Greater Union Grove Chamber of Commerce.
The couple continued to take children until Beverly, who died in October 2015, fell ill.
When his daughters went through the house, they found boxes of children’s clothes, each labeled with the size and season of clothes they contained, Knight added.
DeBrabander recalls finding packages of onesies at the house a few years ago, but her dad wouldn’t let her give them away.
“He always kept thinking to the very end, ‘We need to be ready. We might have babies at the house,’ ” she said.
But Vyvyan didn’t devote all of his time to children and the community at large. One of nine siblings, he also managed to stay close to his brothers and sisters, three of whom owned houses that were only steps from his own, located in various parts of the family’s farmstead.
People used to ask Gruhn if she ever got sick of living so close to her brothers and sisters, but she always said “no.”
“He was a wonderful guy. This is going to be a tough one,” she said.
Funeral Services for Vyvyan will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 27 at Yorkville United Methodist Church. Relatives and friends may visit with the family from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. Sunday at Polnasek-Daniels Funeral Home, 908 11th Ave., Union Grove, and also on Monday from 9 to 9:45 a.m. at the church, 17645 Old Yorkville Road, just off Highway 20.