On Thursday, August 6, 2020 Gerardus (Gerry) Willemsen, loving husband to Wilhelmina (Wilma) and father of four children, quietly passed at the age 90, with his wife of 64 years at his side.
Born in Zevenaar, Holland 1929 (Gerry) was one of Wilhelmus and Josephine Willemsen seven children; four brothers Wim, Henk, Teunis, and Bennie and two sisters An and Door.
After the second world war, Gerry immigrated to Canada. He landed in the Port of Halifax, on an ocean freighter that was converted to a passenger boat. He took a train to Winnipeg with a suitcase of clothes and a few dollars in his pocket. He worked in the wheat fields in Manitoba in the summer and travelled to British Columbia in the winter to work on the railroad.
In 1955, Gerry drove his Ford pickup truck across country (sleeping in the truck at night). He arrived in Blenheim, Ontario where he met Wilma. He got a job working construction on the Southwestern Regional Center. After it was built, he got hired on growing fruit and vegetables for the patients and staff. Evenings and weekends he worked for Dorsser’s Welding building grain dryers.
He loved his animals and had many chickens, goats, pigs, ducks and ponies but his favourite was his love for a dog, of which he had many. He loved to garden just as his father did in Holland. You would never leave his house without a basket of cherries or beans or a head of cauliflower that could fill a bushel basket. Whenever you needed help he was there.
After he retired, he loved helping his children build their houses and landscape their yards. He helped Will with numerous projects at Sunripe and travelled back and forth from Blenheim to Sarnia delivering broccoli. He collected firewood from the orchards behind his house and still spent an hour a day chopping wood into his 80’s. Gerry loved Canada and repeatedly told everyone that Canada was the best country in the world.
He loved time with his 12 grandchildren: Matthew, Jeremy and Jessica, children of Wilma Cartier (Kevin); Kysa, Ryall and Mia, children of Will Willemsen (Ingrid); Justin, Nicole and Kaitlyn, children of Joyce Morrison; Zachary, Joshua and Kirsten, children of Larry Willemsen (Renee).
He adored his 6 great grandchildren; Savannah, Gillian, Aaliyah, Lucas, Evan and Hudson.
Thanks to Blenheim Community Village for their outstanding care and compassion and the Fathers of St. Mary’s church.
A Funeral Mass for Gerry will be held at St. Mary’s Church, Blenheim on Saturday August 8, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. Due to current restrictions with limited attendance related to COVID-19, friends wishing to attend the Mass need to call the Blenheim Community Funeral Home at 519-676-9200 to reserve a seat in the church. Everyone in attendance will need to wear a mask or face covering.
Friends wishing to remember Gerry with a memorial donation are asked to consider the Alzheimers Society in Chatham.