Photography

Jack deCler

February 8, 2020

Obituary

Jack ‘Koos’ (Pa) de Cler, 82, passed peacefully at home on Feb 8, 2020 surrounded by family and friends sharing stories that filled the house with laughter. A perfect reflection of his life. Jack was born on a tree-lined canal in Leiden, The Netherlands, on September 21,1937 to his doting mother Inge, proud father Henny, and sister Truusje. Protected from the scourges of war, his childhood stories were a commemoration of survival and resilience. This reality was part of his legacy and continued to inform his worldview. Elementary and high-school were spent in post-war reconstruction and he often shared stories of those days highlighted by fond memories of antics with his sister. He loved soccer at his ASC club and later on television. Post war, the family resumed their stalled tulip bulb business. Armed with fluency in five languages, Jack attended the University of Neijenrode studying International business so as to ready him for the inheritance of the family business. An extensive travel schedule after University brought him to San Francisco where Jack met Connie. He immediately knew that she was the one and proposed on their first date. He never wanted to leave her side, not for fifty eight years. Meeting Connie’s parents in the north woods of Wisconsin he furthered his love of fishing on borrowed baits and boats. So too, he found a common love of Dixieland music with his future in-laws. With approval from family in the US, they traveled to Holland and married in the Chapel of Neijenrode Castle on a rainy July, 19th, 1961, six months from the day they met. Connie wore her Aunt Caroline’s dress in a fairy tale wedding enveloped by exotic flowers from growers near and far. A honeymoon in Plasmolen on the German boarder with Holland followed. In their first year of marriage, they sadly suffered the loss of their first child daughter Robin. The following year daughter Corine was born. Historic cold froze the canals in Holland and that day Jack donned his American hockey skates and 10K later, proudly gifted Connie with his ribbon for participating in the rare skating event Merentocht. Later in 1963 relocation to the United States brought them to California where Jack began his long career with Montgomery Wards and the sale of the family bulb business. In California, daughter Robin and son Peter were born. A transfer then brought the family to St. Paul, MN. Living on the corner of Berkeley and Cretin offered an idyllic childhood, filled with a backyard ice rink and a never-ending stream of neighbor kids. Many still friends today. The kids attended Nativity, Derham Hall, and Cretin. The family enjoyed a cabin on Sand Lake, WI providing memorable childhood summers with swimming, fishing, skiing and the dependable Dairy Queen stop along the way. Peter’s and Robin’s cabins now continue the story. In 1976 Jack became a proud US citizen. In a special bicentennial program, his naturalization process was complete and sponsors Marshall and Valerie Kriesel, accompanied by Diane and Chuck Jewell threw a beautiful celebration that he treasured. They remained lifetime friends that filled in as family and with whom most holidays were spent. Another move to Woodlawn Avenue brought more fun, more neighbor kids and, of course, the Barretts who were always up for a good laugh. After 35 years of managing the St. Paul store Jack retired from Montgomery Wards. Goodbye to the hated neckties. In 1987 Connie and Jack moved to Stillwater, MN. Boating on the St. Croix River filled summer days. Notably, Jacki and Alan Butterfield’s party boat generously hosted many family celebrations. New fierce competition ensued at the New Richmond Golf Club where Jack never missed the opportunity to find any and all lost balls. Jack, going back to his roots and ever the Dutchman, worked for Rose Floral for over 20 years. They were some of the best days of his life. Cold Minnesota winter months were traded for a few weeks with friends in sunny Mazatlan, Mexico. Through these years they exuberantly welcomed seven grandchildren and now nine through marriage. Jennifer (David), Ricky (Kristy), Josh, Ben, Charlie, Lauren, and Grace. Each his favorite, and all, his heart. His story was punctuated by extensive travel where he followed his stomach never turning down a good (or bad) steak. And although his life took him far from his Dutch roots, his beloved cousin Jan Willem de Cler traveled to him frequently refilling his Dutch supplies so as to never run out. Parkinson’s disease slowed his cadence, but didn’t stop his penchant for fun. He anticipated his days spent with Day Out staff and volunteers. Making his final months bearable, the hospice staff provided gentle ears and capable hands. He loved them all. As a family, we are so grateful. His kids-in-law Rick, Cory and Jeff didn’t sign-up for the care that they ultimately gave and he was so grateful for their years of thoughtful contributions. And finally, in the words of Pa to grandson Charlie, while cleaning out the fire pit after a long day of fun at the cabin, “We will finish this after I leave”. Please join us for a Celebration of Jack’s Life: Saturday February 29th, 2020 10:00 Visitation Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 St Mary’s Catholic Church 423 5th St. S. Stillwater, MN 55082 Flowers from Rose Floral are, of course, the way of the Dutchman. 14298 60th St. N. Stillwater, MN 55082 1-800-272-0715 Donations to Jack’s hospice are also greatly appreciated: Lakeview Health Foundation 927 Churchill Street Stillwater, MN 55082

Service Information


Visitation

Saturday, February 29 2020
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Saint Mary's Catholic Church
423 S. 5th St.
Stillwater MN 55082


Mass of Christian Burial

Saturday, February 29 2020
11:00 AM

Saint Mary's Catholic Church
423 S. 5th St.
Stillwater MN 55082


Reception

Saturday, February 29 2020
12:00 PM

Saint Mary's Catholic Church
423 S. 5th St.
Stillwater MN 55082

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Services

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