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Member Spotlight: November, 2009—Vanderman Law Offices

Member Spotlight

Kris Vanderman and Deb Keefer, Chamber of Commerce

Enjoying Life, Business in the Mon Valley
By Kris Vanderman

Charleroi is more to me than a town or community; it is now part of my heritage. However, in a trans-Atlantic sense, I am half-Belgian. My mother, Ghislaine, was a war bride, having met my father while he was stationed Floreffe, Belgium with the 9th Tactical Air Force. Yes, the Mon Valley enjoys two (2) namesake Belgium towns. Kristen Hazelbaker and I were married in 1974; we discussed all the possibilities of life together and she made the choice for both of us to live “as close to Monessen as possible”, being the town she was born and raised by Al and Nellie Hazelbaker. It seemed, as a good half-Belgian child, that the Charleroi Cougars were reasonably close to the Monessen Greyhounds and so it has been ever since. I was not “native born” to the Mon Valley (my birth place is Wiesbaden, Germany) another duty station of my father, Lloyd, post-WWII. However, Charleroi has adopted me and I have always appreciated it.

As an “out of State” resident I was very fortunately admitted to the University of Pittsburgh Law School. While there I received an outstanding business law education from Dean Edward Sell. Dean Sell was a man I greatly admired. I attempt to emulate in my practice of law and in my life his interest, ethics, compassion and intellect.

Our Charleroi Law Office building when purchased was a fairly dilapidated “later era” somewhat Victorian dental office. During a visit to Cape May, NJ on vacation with my wife and daughters many summers ago, we happened to visit the “Pink House”. We undertook the task of restoration and refurbishment to closely duplicate the appearance and lines of that famous Victoria restoration, but in a more sedate color.

The Charleroi Chamber has permitted me to meet quality persons and form many acquaintances and friendships over these past thirty-one (31) years of membership. My expectations are to continue to be active with the Chamber, continue to support its activities and continue to meet the new members that form such an important part of my life.

Beyond my law practice, my family also farms, cattle ranches, and occasionally we get to play a little golf or fish. We enjoy traveling and hope in the future to get to visit each continent.

My current large project is the replication of a 1930’s style farmhouse on our JNK Ranch. (The family names, two daughters, Jodie, and Kadie, Kristen and Kris, and Nellie Hazelbaker, combines to our three generations having the common interest in agriculture and love of animals).

Over these years I have enjoyed a modest amount of success which I attribute to gifts from the Almighty, to a strong family, to friends and employees who have supported me, and to all those people (who being far smarter than I) have taught me so many things over the years.

I always enjoy presenting a little bit of Charleroi to the many people I speak to across the country, so I have a couple of “diddies” I like to share: What is the English translation of Charleroi? It is “Charles the King”. What is the historical significance of Charleroi, Belgium? It was the staging area for the assembly of the French troops under Napoleon’s “100 days” bearing his Army North, then marched fifteen (15) miles due North to the Battle of Waterloo, ending finally Napoleon’s grip on Europe. That call to assembly was repeated almost fifty (50) years later in another famous Pennsylvania town called Gettysburg and the Napoleon tactic of “driving through the center” equally failed for a General named “Lee” on July of 1863 as it did for Napoleon at Waterloo.

Vanderman Law has three (3) offices located in Charleroi, Perryopolis in Fayette County and “by special appointment” on the farm in Bentleyville. The practice is limited to the following areas: Oil and Gas, Agriculture, Business, Civil Disputes (particularly as associated with construction), Estates, Wills and Trusts, Asset Planning, Real Estate, Living Arrangement Agreements, Guardianships, private Adoptions and Bankruptcy. Kris Vanderman has been a lecturer for the Westmoreland County Community College, Washington Jefferson College, the Pennsylvania Bar Institute and the Penn State University on the topics of oil and gas law and development, real estate law and bankruptcy law. Mr. Vanderman practices actively in Washington, Westmoreland, Fayette, Greene and Allegheny counties and is a member of the Bar of the U.S. Third District Court, the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the Pennsylvania Bar Institute and the Washington County Bar Association. He is active with the Pennsylvania Bar Association as a long standing member of the Agricultural Law Committee, served as Secretary and Treasurer of the General Practice Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

More information is available at or by telephone to the Charleroi office at 724-483-9578.