Gerry Byvelds, a resident of Williamsburg for the past 63 years, passed away suddenly at home on Mon., April 27, 2015. He was 86.
Gerry was born in Keldonk, The Netherlands, on April 10, 1929, one of 10 children born to his parents, Johannus and Anna Byvelds (nee Vandommelen). He worked from an early age on the family farm, other farms, and in the bush cutting lumber. At the age of 22, he came with brothers Bill and John to Canada, settling in New Brunswick for awhile, earning money here and there, and getting things started in the new country. They eventually followed their hearts to Ontario, and found a nice farm in Boucks Hill where the rest of the family could join them.
Gerry worked for many years as a bricklayer with his little brother, Tony, and brother-in-law, Jack Van Hoof. When he retired from bricklaying, he worked as a groundskeeper at the Morrisburg Golf Course for several years. During his time at the golf course, Gerry fine-tuned his lawn care skills for the house in Williamsburg.
Gerry married Nolda on Sept., 30, 1983, 32 years ago. They soon became Opa and Oma, but for the rest of the family they were known as Uncle Gerry and Tante Nolda, and they were in charge of everything having to do with a Van Moorsel or a Byvelds.
Gerry worked hard. His hands belonged in the Smithsonian as a testament to hard work… rugged, weathered, and absent of fingerprints from the years of bricklaying. Cuts on his hands, and bruised fingernails were the norm. Vise-Grips were used to remove supersized slivers. There were never enough bandages in the house.
Ever busy, he was constantly working on the house and the yard. If something was found in disrepair, it instantly called for a trip to the farm at Boucks Hill to see if there was some piece of used milking equipment that could fix it instead of the proper solution available at the store. He genuinely enjoyed the challenge of finding creative solutions to building and fixing things. He had an extensive collection of power tools, and not one had the cord intact, severed by its own doing. Gerry would run to the breaker panel to see why the saw stopped, and later realize that he cut through the cord. This did not happen once. Looking now at his tool collection, it was routine.
In the moments between work and sleep, it was pretty much a guarantee that Gerry was in front of the TV watching sports. Probably 100 baseball games in the summer and 80 hockey games in winter, but also soccer, curling, and football. He would wear out his La-Z-Boy chairs leaning over to help the home team score. His legs would almost reach the ceiling when there was a great play developing. He cheered hardest for Canada in the Olympics, with The Netherlands running a distant second.
He loved animals, keeping the local cats and bunnies fed and comfortable in re-purposed calf hutches and feeders. Family pets could count on him for treats from the table, a ball to throw, and a lap to lay on.
For many of his later years, he loved to bike around the county, typically to his brothers’ farms in Boucks Hill, Chesterville, and Brinston. As enjoyable as this was in the moment, it likely also made him feel like a young boy back in the Old Country.
He adored his family and took great pride in his grandchildren and more recently, his four great-grandchildren. Nothing got him out of his La-Z-Boy faster than the arrival of a young family member.
All along, he held Nolda high on a pedestal, doing everything he could to make sure she was comfortable and happy. Furniture, flower beds, whatever. Gerry and Nolda also enjoyed playing cards together, and bowling with their friends at the Chesterville Bowling Lanes. He was also blessed to have great neighbours always looking out for him.
Gerry always had cool cars, was everyone’s cool uncle, and he will be sadly missed.
Gerry is survived by his wife, Nolda; his stepchildren, Pat (Christie) of Williamsburg, Margie Byvelds (Pete Wilson) of Listowel, Reta Byvelds of Stratford, and Ed (Catherine) of San Francisco; his siblings, his twin brother, Martin (Johanna) of Boucks Hill, John A. (Toni) of Williamsburg, Anthony (Corrie) of Williamsburg, Toni Van Hoof of Morrisburg, and Catherine Van Moorsel of Williamsburg. Opa will be fondly remembered by seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his brothers, Arnold, Albert, Bill, and Johannus. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Morrisburg on Fri., May 1 at 11:30 am with Father Chisholm officiating, followed by interment at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Morrisburg. The pallbearers were his nephews – Peter Byvelds, Steven Byvelds, John Byvelds, Robert Byvelds, Mike Byvelds, David Van Moorsel, Jeff Van Moorsel, and Donald Van Hoof.
Donations to Winchester District Memorial Hospital would be gratefully acknowledged by the family.
The arrangements were entrusted to Marsden and McLaughlin Funeral Home in Williamsburg.
Online condolences may be made at www.marsdenmclaughlin.com