Carl De Jong ’60

Carl Jason De Jong was born Feb. 21, 1938, to Wilbur James De Jong and Jeanette (DenHerder) De Jong in Maurice, Iowa. The first of six siblings, he worked hard on the farm, waking early for chores. As a boy he was studious and loved playing basketball. After graduating from high school in Maurice, he attended Northwestern Junior Academy for an Associate’s Degree, and then Hope College to finish his Bachelor’s Degree. He felt called to the ministry, and graduated from Western Seminary in 1964 after taking a year to do an internship in Chicago.

While in seminary, he found a lovely young woman to accompany him to a music concert and they fell in love. Mary Elizabeth (Beth) Ziesenitz married him July 27, 1963, and were married for 60 years before his passing. They together chose to commit their lives to serving God and travelled across the country ministering in churches beginning in the Bronx in New York City, then on to Denver, Colorado, where their children, Charles Jonathan (Jon) and Elizabeth Ann (Liz), were born. In 1973 they moved to South Central Los Angeles, California, to serve one of the few racially integrated congregations within the Reformed Church of America. After five years of serving there, Carl’s health began to suffer and they decided to accept a call to Hospers, Iowa, which was in the same county where he was born. While pastoring in Hospers, he began to lose his peripheral vision due to glaucoma caused by mercury poisoning. He came to terms with the possibility of losing his sight by savoring all that he could see, especially sunsets and the faces of his loved ones. In 1988, he and Beth moved to Oak Forest, Illinois, where he became the Associate Minister of Calvary Reformed Church.

Wherever Carl lived, he was known as a man who prayed. If you met him and shared anything of your life with him, he probably prayed for you.
Carl and Beth served with grace and hospitality and cherished all the people in their congregations, making many good friends along the way. Carl retired from the ministry in 1996 due to depression and failing eye sight. He then took over the dishes and other household tasks. While he always had a garden, he made the Oak Forest Garden truly beautiful and functional with abundant raspberries, black berries, vegetables, his grandmother’s peony plants, day lilies, and a special year of the pumpkins growing on a trellis. He saved everything he could and scavenged all sorts of wood, hardware, pieces of metal, etc., from the neighborhood. He did not see the need to buy things. He could make his own.

in 2012, Carl and Beth moved into a duplex with Liz and her family next door, bringing their raspberry plants with them. There he and Beth began to attend St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and found friends and good clergy there. Even though he was legally blind and walking became more difficult, he went out every day and got to know all the neighbors, along with their cares and concerns. In 2019, he had a stroke which severely limited his walking. Beth took on the care of Carl and made sure he was fed, clean, and looking presentable. He never let his circumstances ruin his day and greeted everyone with a smile and a story. He pastored until the end, getting to know his caretakers and their families and praying for them.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Wilbur and Jeanette De Jong, his brother Earl De Jong (Carol), and his brother-in-law, Mike Lamb. He is survived by his wife, Beth ’63, his son, Jon (Abby), his daughter Liz DeBraber (Andy.) He had six grandchildren: Taylor Simon, Tyler Krause, Noah De Jong, Anna DeBraber (Nick Kampfschulte), Jordan De Jong, and Ezra DeBraber. His remaining siblings are Linda De Jong, Kaye Lamb, Dan De Jong (Rita), and Joel De Jong (Lorraine), as well as several nieces and nephews.

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