“Van” was born on May 2, 1922 in Jakarta, Indonesia, formerly a Dutch colony. He graduated high school with a Dutch baccalaureate.
During WWII he was drafted into the Dutch army at the age of 18 and was taken prisoner of war by the Japanese and held until he was liberated in 1946. He was awarded four medals including the Orde Vrede, the Voor Krijgs Verrichtingen.
He returned to the Netherlands and attended the Deventer University where he received a BS in Tropical Agriculture.
He immigrated to the US in 1949.
Van met, fell in love, and married Betty Patricia DeVries, another Dutch immigrant, in Redlands, Calif. on January 17, 1953.
After receiving another BS in Botany & Agriculture, this time from Utah State University in 1956, he went to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and was assigned to Arizona and New Mexico until 1964. Van was then recruited by the U.S. Agency for International Development and served his adopted country in many different countries in Africa until he retired in 1983. His humanitarian accomplishments through his work have endured: the establishment of various ranch and grassland projects, the introduction of new cattle breeds, well drilling, and being liason to tribes and governments.
Van was Sunday school superintendent for the Christian Reformed Church, and Elder of the Presbyterian Church in Chinle, Arizona.
He wrote for and was published in Elsevier Magazine and the Journal of Range Management. He was an avid hiker with CFI. Van was an accomplished gymnast and physical fitness was integral to his life. He entertained many with his feats of balance, handstands, tumbling and physical prowess. Van was notorious for his playful sense of humor and bad jokes.
In Moab, chosen for the beautiful red rocks, he was frequently seen on his daily constitutionals. He not only volunteered in the building of the wetlands, he also found time to drive seniors to Grand Junction for doctors’ visits, shopping or to catch a flight. Van was an avid gardener, botanist, historian, linguist, etymologist, enjoyed silver smithing and was a lover of music and Opera. He was known by many and loved by all.
Van is survived by: his wife, Betty; his two daughters, Joline (Hernan) and Lorise; and his three grandchildren, Karla, Alina, and Reya; nieces: Maryann, Joan, Carla, Caroline, Stephanie; nephews: Mark, Terry, Jim, Chris and other nieces in Europe.
A Celebration of Van’s Life will be held: Saturday July 14, 2018 11:30 a.m. Community Church, 544 North Mi Vida Drive, Moab, Utah.
Donations to Moab Hospice are welcome in lieu of flower. Visit cns.cares.org (click “other”, then go to Moab Hospice Care In Home).
You can send condolences to the family at www.SpanishValleyMortuary.com