Philadelphia News & Search
“If my eternal love could have cured your cancer
You would have lived FOREVER.”
In this poem, Charles “Chas” Van Horn vowed his love for his wife of 47 years as he had done in so many poems, gifts, and gestures over the years.
Catherine L. Van Horn, 66, of Maple Shade died Sunday, March 26, at home after struggling with health problems for many years.
“I cry because God summoned you to his side but
I smile because we had such a special love.”
The two became acquainted through letters they exchanged when Van Horn was an Army soldier stationed in Phu Bai, Vietnam. When he returned, he invited Cathy Trinkle to a fancy dinner at the area’s newest and swankiest restaurant at the time, the Cherry Hill Lodge. She would later tell him she had been taken aback by the handsome and worldly young man.
He recalled that she was nervous and giddy — “laughing at just anything I said” — and then skipping together outside the restaurant. Her laugh was so infectious, and kindness so genuine that he wanted to be around her all the time.
“She knew how to love back,” Van Horn said.
Their love only grew stronger, Van Horn said, recalling how he felt when the couple renewed their vows for their 25th anniversary.
“It was like someone whacked me in the head with a hammer. It just hit me so hard how much and how immensely I was in love with her,” Van Horn said.
Mrs. Van Horn was born in Philadelphia and graduated in 1968 from the St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls. She moved to New Jersey after meeting her husband. The couple had three children, Christopher, Matthew, and Kelley Van Horn.
Each year, said Kelley Van Horn, her mother would have freshly baked brownies waiting for her children when they came home from the first day of school.
“She always made us feel special,” she said. “There was never a time that we did not know that she loved us.”
She took the boys to baseball practices and games, and her daughter to dance classes four times a week and to recitals with boundless energy, said her daughter, now a mother as well.
“I couldn’t tell you how she did it,” she said. “I would call her up and say, ‘Mom, I have a whole, new level of respect for how you managed to juggle all those things.’”
When the children were older, Mrs. Van Horn obtained a certificate in human resources at Camden County College and later worked as HR director for the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, where she remained until a few years ago when her health deteriorated.
Even then, said her son Matthew, Mrs. Van Horn was selfless.
“It was just incredible how she was so much help for everyone else even in the middle of all she was going through,” her son said. The cancer was detected at a late stage while Mrs. Van Horn was receiving treatment for heart problems, her husband said. They left the doctor’s office, and in their car cried while embracing for “what felt like an hour,” Van Horn said. He vowed he would never leave her side, she would never be alone.
She went through treatment with such stoicism that she became a role model for others, he said. She always managed to smile, and keep a positive attitude. She enjoyed crocheting and reading.
In addition to her husband and children, Mrs. Van Horn is also survived by five grandchildren, three step-grandchildren, and her mother, Helen Trinkle, and three siblings. She is predeceased by her father, Charles Trinkle.
There will be a life celebration at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 236 E. Main St., Maple Shade, on Thursday, March 30, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., followed by a prayer service. Interment is private.
Philadelphia News & Search