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Jan (John) Vande Merwe, Jr.May 21, 1925 ~ September 29, 2017 (age 92)
Jan (John) Vande Merwe, Jr., 92, passed away peacefully at his home Sept. 29, 2017. He was born in Dordrecht, Netherlands on May 21, 1925 to Jan VandeMerwe, Sr., and Cornelia Lucia Wetter. He developed a gift for music and at the young age of 12 performed on organs of great cathedrals as well as being called as branch organist. Achieving outstanding academic success, he was admitted to the University in Rotterdam to study Architectural Engineering. This was cut short, however, by WWII and the invasion of Germany. As a teenager he experienced the ravages of war and went into hiding to escape forced enemy enlistment.
In 1947, he and two younger brothers were the first of their family to immigrate to America where he prepared the way for his parents and 6 other siblings to follow. Known as the “tall, handsome Dutch boys” he and his brothers quickly made an impression in the Cannon Ward. Two weeks after his arrival in Salt Lake City, he met Gladys Joy Gold, a blond beauty who dazzled him with her zest for life. By the aid of an English/Dutch dictionary, they courted and soon their friendship developed into love. Knowing that “a good husband should provide for his wife”, he began construction on a home. After a yearlong engagement during which he worked all day and built their home after hours, they were married April 4, 1950 in the Salt Lake Temple. They were parents to six children Becky Joy Jensen (Del), Jan (Martha), Judi Conner (Rick), Jewel Marchant (Gary), Tim (Linda), and Jed (Jill), 31 grandchildren, and 51 great-grandchildren. He is survived by his lovely wife Gladys Joy, Willem VandeMerwe (brother) and Bea VandeMerwe (sister). Like his parents before him, he raised his family in righteousness and was devoted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He served a mission with Gladys 1998-2000 in the Bountiful, Utah temple and financially supported many missionaries.
John was well known for his beautiful organ music and shared this talent freely throughout his life. Among other duties, his calling in the Val Verda 2nd Ward was ward organist for 40 years. He played for countless funerals and could frequently be found at the console in the temple chapel. A highlight of his life came when he had the opportunity to play the Salt Lake Tabernacle and Conference Center organs. His life centered around his testimony which he bore through music.
John established financial success through hard work and dedicated business savvy. He worked with Nelson Bros. Construction Co. contracting jobs at Hill Air Force Base and building apartment complexes in his “spare time.” In the final weeks of his life he was still scheming for yet another business deal. Whether it was designing and building the Val Verda Stake Center (at age 29), his own homes, exquisite landscaping or playgrounds for his children, he was a master craftsman. Being an avid reader, he built his life around learning and accomplishing.
Next to his family, his greatest pleasure came from travel. He loved planning (“anticipation is half the fun ”) and including others in cruising around the world. He took his children, grandchildren, siblings, and even close friends on countless cruises and often said he was most at peace on the open seas. His deepest joy came in watching his children and their families interact and share life’s tender moments.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, October 7, 11:00 a.m. at the Val Verda Stake Center, 2651 S. 500 W., Bountiful. Visitation will be 9:30- 10:30 a.m. prior to the service. Interment will be at the Bountiful City Cemetery.