Van grew up in Grand Island, and attended Claremont-McKenna College followed by the University of Nebraska Law School. After graduation in 1970, he served as a Captain in the US Army. In 1972, Van moved to Kansas City where he was a banker, culminating as President of Brookside Savings Bank. Subsequently, he was a financial advisor at UBS. His current board positions are the Stuhr Museum Foundation, Kirkwood and the Missouri chapter of Nature Conservancy. Van has one son, Hunter, and three grandchildren.