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Updated: 04/02/2014 03:50:32PM

Iliff E. VanAken

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Iliff E. VanAken, 78, of Arcadia, Fla., passed away Sunday, March 30, 2014, with his loving family by his side.

He was born March 6, 1936, to Max and Maurine Hauer VanAken in Hillsdale, Mich.

In November of 1954, Iliff married the love of his life, Rose Miller. Iliff was a hard working farmer. He owned and operated VanAken Farms, a grain farm in Michigan and upon moving to DeSoto County in the late 1970s he resumed his farming career in the citrus industry under the name of VanAken Groves. His work ethic was instilled in the lives of his children at an early age.

Iliff enjoyed watching his boys play ball and his daughters cheerleading as they grew up and was proud of all of their accomplishments in adulthood. He was a member of El Bethel Church in Hillsdale. He also helped build South Woodbridge Church in Camden, Mich., where he was a Deacon and Sunday School Superintendent. Iliff was a loving husband, father, brother, grandfather and great grandfather and will be deeply missed by those whose lives he touched.

Iliff is survived by his beloved wife of 59 years, Rose VanAken of Arcadia; sons, Eugene “Bub” (Dana) VanAken of Arcadia, and Jeffrey (Treasa) VanAken of Arcadia; daughters, Jacquelyn “Jackie” (Gordon) Burger of Port Charlotte, Fla., and Marla (Johnny) Hiers of Williston, Fla.; brothers, Gaylord (Sherene) VanAken of Jonesville, Mich., Royal (Lucille) VanAken of Hillsdale; sisters, Connie (Charles) Watkins of Camden, and Bonnie (Eliso) Jimenez of Reading, Mich.; 12 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents.

A visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. today, Thursday, April 3, 2014, with the funeral service beginning at 6 p.m. in the chapel of Ponger Kays Grady Funeral Home. Burial will be in Woodbridge Cemetery in Woodbridge Township, Mich., the following week. Online condolences can be made at

Arrangements are by Ponger Kays Grady Funeral Home, Arcadia.

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