Gerrit Van’t Foort
Gerrit Van’t Foort, a resident of the Garden Villa in Chesterville for the past six years, went to be with his Heavenly Father on Mon., Jan. 30, 2017. He was in his 99th year.
Gerrit was born in Lunteren, Holland, raised on a farm with his parents and one older brother, Bertus. Going to school was by bicycle or by foot. Everyday life evolved around farm, home, and church life.
He married Maatje Jansen in 1943. By 1952, they had a family of six – Maatje, Gerrit, Wilma, Betty, Tena, and Linda. Sadly, their only boy born in Holland only lived for three weeks being born with severe Spinabifida. The early years were good ones, but Gerrit felt adventurous, and as many other Netherlanders at that time, moved his family to Canada. The family spent 10 days on the maiden voyage of the Maasdam boat. Arriving in Cornwall by train from Montreal, the Van’t Foort’s were met by a group of Dutch immigrants, but plans were a little vague as they didn’t have a place to stay. Fairly quickly Gerrit had a job working for a young farmer, and the family lived in a new home near Cornwall. Tim was born while they lived in Cornwall, the first of the kids to be born in a hospital.
Every farmer wants a farm of his own, and the family soon relocated to the farm in Grantley where many years were spent dairy farming and raising a few chickens and pigs. The family expanded to include Margaret and Harry. Farming was hard work and times were not always easy. There wasn’t a lot of time for Gerrit to pursue any outside hobbies or interests as his days were full and long. Church was a very important part of his life, and the family would pile into the car every Sunday morning to attend worship. Gerrit and Maatje taught their family the importance of getting a good education and having faith in God.
In 1980, Gerrit and Maatje retired from the family farm and moved to Beckstead Road. With the reassurance that the farm was in the good hands of his son Tim, and each of his children independent and thriving in their own family lives, Gerrit seemed to flourish. The pressure was off. He and Maatje loved to travel whether it was visiting their children, vacationing throughout Canada, southern vacations, Europe, or the Holy Land, they saw a lot in their lifetime together.
Aside from travelling, he had the time to develop hobbies. He began gardening. He took pride in his always-growing gardens, where he grew about four times the amount of food he and Maatje could eat, and was always happy to share with others.
He also developed a love for music. He took pride in his self-taught skill of playing the piano and organ. Often, these were the first sounds that would greet visitors at the Van’t Foort home.
Gerrit also loved to bike, and took some lengthy trips. About 15 years ago, he bicycled all the way to Cornwall when his was in his mid 80’s. Gerrit’s memory was the envy of all of his family. His recollection of dates, people, towns, and cities were amazing up until he became ill.
Another thing Gerrit was amazing at was playing Dutch Bingo. He would, on occasion, stop at a home with a Dutch name on the mailbox – someone he didn’t know at all – and would make some sort of connection with that person.
He loved his family most of all, and always took an interest in their occupations and activities. From starting out as one couple, their family multiplied to include eight children, 18 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-granddaughter.
He leaves behind an incredible legacy, and has set a great example to his children. He will be greatly missed.
Gerrit is survived by his wife of 73 years Maatje; his children, Wilma Mudde (Martin) of Ottawa, Betty Seminowicz (Al) of Durham, Tena Van’tFoort (Bryan Barbour) of Owen Sound, Tim Van’t Foort (Birgit) of Iroquois, Marg Joldersma (Ginus) of Brinston, and Harry Van’t Foort (Iena) of Spencerville; and his son-in-law, Dan Hubert of Smiths Falls. Opa will be fondly remembered by 17 grandchildren 26 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild. He was predeceased by his daughter, Linda Hubert, his infant son, Tijmen, his brother, Bertus, his daughter-in-law, Joanne Van’t Foort, and his grandson, Scott Van’t Foort. He is also survived by nieces and nephews.
Friends called at the Marsden and McLaughlin Funeral Home in Williamsburg on Fri., Feb 3 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 pm. The funeral service was held at Williamsburg Christian Reformed Church on Sat., Feb. 4 at 11 am, with Pastor George van Popta officiating followed by interment at Grantley Cemetery. The pallbearers were James Mudde, Melanie Hubert, Greg Van’t Foort, Chris Seminowicz, Kevin Joldersma, Braydon Van’t Foort, Tama Cross, and Justin Van’t Foort.
As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions to Timothy Christian School or Winchester District Memorial Hospital would be gratefully acknowledged by the family.
Online condolences may be made at www.marsdenmclaughlin.com