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Celebrating the life of

John Cornelius VanPuffelen

January 14, 1945 - February 10, 2024

John Cornelius VanPuffelen


John Cornelius VanPuffelen (79)  - beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather, passed away on February 10, 2024 after a long battle with Dementia and Parkinson’s.

Joe was born to the late Anton Jacobus and Virginia Castleman VanPuffelen on January 14, 1945 in McKinny, Texas.  His family moved to Savannah in 1952 when his father became the pastor of The Independent Presbyterian Church.  Joe was a member of the Savannah High School Class of 1963and attended Belhaven College.

Joe married his high school sweetheart, Mary Matilda Griffeth on June 30, 1967.  They were married for 56 years and were blessed with three children, seven grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.  Joe was best known as Papa Joe.

Joe was an active member of The Independent Presbyterian Church for 72 years.  He was an officer in the church for over 40 years.  He loved his church dearly and served the congregation and staff with joy.  Joe especially loved the children of the church who affectionately knew his as the “tootsie roll man.”

Joe was the owner of Savannah Marine Services and Biblia, Inc.

Joe is survived by his loving wife, Mary; children John VanPuffelen of Atlanta, Georgia, William (Lindsey) VanPuffelen of Savannah, Georgia and Mary Catherine (Patrick) McLean of Bluffton, South Carolina; grandchildren Sara Kaitlin, Breck (Hannah), Josiah (Christian Emilee) and Isaac VanPuffelen, JP (Megan), Mary Bennett and Catherine McLean; sister Naarah Turpen, brother Jere (Judy) VanPuffelen, and sister-in -law Betty (Carey) Geiger as well as his great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.  Joe is proceeded in death by his parents, his brother Theo VanPuffelen, sister Tina VanPuffelen Fiske and brother-in-law Mac Fiske.

A Memorial Services will be held at The Independent Presbyterian Church on Saturday, February 17 at 10:30am.  The family invites friends and family to a reception in the fellowship hall immediately following the service.  A private family burial will proceed the service. Livestream of the service can be found at

The family would like to thank Ann Wilke Ruth Whitelaw, Anna Gross and the caregivers of Hospice Savannah for their care of Joe.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests you send donations to The Independent Presbyterian Church, 207 Bull Street, Savannah, Georgia 31401 or



To a dear friend of long ago I send my deepest sympathy. May your memories serve you well. Evelyn

- Evelyn Steadwell Temple, Lexington , S.c.

My favorite church member ever. I loved to hear him sing and he always greeted everyone with the best smile. I’m sure he’s singing in the heavenly choir today

- Nela, Savannah, GA

I’m so sorry in hearing about Joe’s passing. I was a member of St Vincent Street Free Church in Glasgow and has the pleasure of meeting Joe and Mary in Glasgow and over on a trip to Savannah. Will be praying for you all. John

- John Kennedy, Glasgow, Scotland

I'm so very sorry for your loss. Joe has left a wonderful family legacy. Love to you all. Marilyn Solana

- Marilyn Solana, Fayetteville, GA

Dearest Mary, You have my deepest sympathy for your loss of Joe. May God continue to comfort you in the coming days. Fondly, Bonnie (Jewett) Delvers. (Another friend of long ago.)

- Bonnie J Delvers, Savannah, GA

Our families have beed intertwined all these years...VanPuffelen, Griffeth and Redmond at IPC and SHS. It is such a loss to say goodbye to Joe. May he finally be at peace in both body and mind. My sister Pat joins me in sending our heartfelt love to all of you. Pamela Redmond Wall

- Pamela Wall, Savannah, GA

Dear Mary, may God sustain you and your family in your loss of Joe.

- Amanda Cannon, Savannah, GA

Joe was a godly and kind man. I remember growing up in the church and he would always hand me a piece of hard candy on Sunday mornings if I saw him. If I happened to catch him with an empty pocket, he would give me a cough drop (Halls cherry) if he had one. What a blessing to have known him and his family over the years. Praying for God‘s grace as you grieve his loss.

- Matt Maxey, Columbus, GA

Mary we were so sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved husband. We will be praying for you and all the family. We send our love to you all.

- Bill and Pam Maxey, Nashville, Tennessee

I never got to say thank you to someone who probably never thought twice about what he had done to jumpstart my career on the Savannah River. So all I can offer is my heartfelt condolences to Joe’s family. It feels so inadequate but I stress how proud I was to know him. Respect is everything a man should hold dear. Joe Van Puffelen will forever have mine.

- John McCarthy, Savannah, GA

Many thoughts & prayers to The VanPuffelens!

- James Grayson, Savannah, GA

My sympathies to you and your family. The Marshalls were very fond of the VanPuffelens going back to the 1950s. Joe was a fine and faithful servant of Christ and his Church.

- John Marshall , Statesboro , Georgia

Naarah: So sorry to read of your brother's death. You and I were classmates at Armstrong many years ago.

- Marie Green Bryant, Savannah, GA

Please know your family is in our thoughts and prayers. Expecting a loss doesn't make it any easier, but may the memories of happier times with Joe be a balm to your souls as you go through this difficult period. Much love, Vernon, Rebecca & Hannah

- Vernon & Rebecca Buchman, Savannah, GA

Services under the direction of:

Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel