School 09


Karl E. de Jonge

October 2, 1931 ~ January 13, 2019 (age 87)

Karl Everard de Jonge (October 2, 1931 – January 13, 2019) died peacefully at home surrounded by his loving family.  Karl was a man of many interests but the core of his life came from his passions of education and nature.  He taught high school U.S. history at Niles Township, just north of Chicago.  A skilled conversationalist, he could talk with anyone.  An avid reader with a love of philosophy and religion, he embodied a lifelong learner.  He had the courage to act on his beliefs and was a die-hard union leader in pivotal teachers’ strikes in the mid 1970’s.  He believed education is an important part of a meaningful and purposeful life.

Knowing Karl was to appreciate the largest backyard vegetable garden anyone has ever seen.  The soil at 9425 Normandy in Morton Grove was lovingly cultivated, organically fertilized, watered, and tended for 47 years.  The yield was simply spectacular.  His family developed canker sores from eating so many vegetables each summer.  The tomatoes were red and tender, the corn sweet and juicy and the zucchini kept coming and coming and coming.  The harvest started in May with radishes and kept on giving through Brussels sprouts at Thanksgiving.  He took great pride in growing tomatoes and sweet corn from seed, refining his technique each year.   

Karl eschewed power and privilege, finding the lives of the common person more interesting.  He loved animals of all kinds, with a particular fondness and skill for bird-watching.  His favorite spot was sitting in his wooden rocking chair on the back deck, his drink of choice at hand, watching the sun set over the garden, his dog Bonnie at his side, surveying his spot of ground, plotting his tasks for the coming morning with binoculars at the ready should a bird materialize.  The baseball Giants were his team of choice, following them religiously since his childhood in north Jersey.  He revered Willie Mays.  Even their gut-wrenching move from New York to San Francisco could not shake his devotion.  Once a Giant, always a Giant.  In his prime, Karl was a crafty pitcher and sharpshooting basketball guard.  When his competitive edge moved to fishing, the crappies in Hills Lake, Wisconsin were no match for his rod and reel.  He was quick with a joke and appreciated country music long before it was popular.  He experienced God in nature and in music.        

He is survived by the love of his life, Joan de Jonge (de Boer), his older sister June VanderWall, his younger twin brothers, Vic (Ruth) and Vince (Carol).  He was affectionately loved by his in-laws Mary Hahn, Andrew de Boer (Cynthia) and Paul de Boer (Dorothy).  He lives on in his daughter Julia and her spouse Paul (Karsten) of Grand Rapids, Michigan and their children Jamo (Gina), Maddy and Annie; and in his son Eric and his spouse Melissa (Turner) of Washington D.C. and their children Maya and Nat.  

In lieu of flowers, please consider contributions to Doctors without Borders or Westminster Presbyterian Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan.  A service celebrating Karl’s life and honoring his military service is planned for the spring planting season.  We will gather on Saturday, April 20 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Grand Rapids Michigan.  We will receive family and friends at 11:00 am with the service at 12:30 pm followed by a reception.  Please join us as we remember Karl.  His specific request was that “O Danny Boy” be performed at his service … twice!  

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