Donald Battjes Jr. ’67

Donald Battjes Jr. ’67 of Pasadena, CA, former Chief of Operations at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, died unexpectedly May 15 while on an extended visit to his home in Seillans, France. He was 73 years old. Donald was born in 1944, in Battle Creek, MI, to Donald I. Battjes, Sr., and Maxine Van Zylen Battjes. He grew up in Grand Rapids, MI, where he spent summers swimming and sailing with his two younger brothers, Doug and David, at the family cottage on Gull Lake. He graduated from Grand Rapids Christian High School and received his BA degree from Hope College in Holland, MI. He took advanced studies in architecture and sculpture at Ecole d’Art Americane in Fontainebleau, France. While still in Michigan, he created and toured with Donald Battjes Puppets, beginning a life-long love affair with marionettes and performance art. He was a long-time member of Puppeteers of America. Donald spent his adult career in various aspects of architecture, design, corporate real estate, and facility management. He moved to California to become Assistant Vice President of Architecture and Design at the former Crocker Bank in San Francisco and later, Wells Fargo Bank in Los Angeles. While Director of Corporate Real Estate for Twentieth Century Fox Studios, he spent 15 months commuting weekly from Los Angeles to Minneapolis to manage construction of a new Coca Cola facility in the Twin Cities. He moved on to Hughes Aircraft in El Segundo where he was part of the team that coordinated construction of its former world headquarters building on a bluff near Loyola Marymount University. He was President and General Manager of the now-historic Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Los Angeles. He then founded and was CEO of Parade Street, Inc., a licensed toy manufacturing company. During his tenure as Chief of Operations and Facility Planning at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, he directed the installation of the iconic Urban Light assemblage facing Wilshire Boulevard and construction of the glass and marble Lynda and Stewart Resnick Pavilion designed by famed architect, Renzo Piano, thus expanding LACMA’s exhibition space by 45,000 square feet. After retirement, he was co-architect and consultant on construction of the Kruizenga Art Museum on the campus of his alma mater, Hope College. It was completed in 2015. Donald was a long-time member of First Congregational Church Los Angeles where he served in almost every capacity of leadership. He was Moderator of the Congregation, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Chair of the Building and Grounds Committee and board member of Pilgrim School. After the Northridge earthquake he launched a successful fundraising campaign to underwrite extensive repairs and replacement of the tower spires. Additionally, he was instrumental in creating Hoover Gardens and Nancy White Way, which leads into Pilgrim School. He was a fervent patron of the arts and devotee of choral music. He enjoyed world tours with prominent choral groups and established friendships in the global community of classical music. He was a founding member of the Los Angeles Downtown Breakfast Club. He was particularly attracted to southern France where he bought and restored a 300-year-old stone village house. More recently he remodeled a property in Seillans where he joyously welcomed guests from near and far. He was an active participant in art and music programs in Provence and treasured the many friendships he made there. Donald is survived by his beloved daughter, Katherine Allen Battjes of Los Angeles; brothers Douglas (Marina) of Grand Rapids; David (Peg) of Augusta, MI; niece Jacquelyn Battjes; his former wife, Sigrid Battjes Thomas of Pasadena, CA; step-daughter Alexa Masters of Dublin, CA; and life-long friend Robert Friestad of Marin County, CA. Friends are cordially invited to attend a Celebration of Life for Donald Battjes, Jr., Wednesday, June 13, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, 540 S. Commonwealth Avenue, Los Angeles, CA. A final Celebration of Life will be held at Battjes Chapel at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church, 107 LaGrave Avenue SE, Grand Rapids. He will be laid to rest at Graceland Memorial Park and Mausoleum in Grand Rapids. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Donald’s name to First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, Hope College’s Patron of the Arts Program, or a charity of choice.

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