Jay Vernon Veldhouse was born on October 9, 1928, at the family farm home near Kanawha, Iowa, to Heiko H. and Grace E. Abbas Veldhouse. He attended country school his elementary years and graduated from Kanawha High School in 1945. It was a joyful time in America as World War II was winding down, ending in August.
Since Jay was only sixteen when he graduated, he stayed at home to farm for his dad instead of going to college. But the next school year he went to Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, taking pre-seminary courses. After a year and a half, he returned to Kanawha to farm his dad’s land once again.
On June 7, 1949, Jay was united in marriage with Audrey Rietema, his high school sweetheart. After farming three years, the academics again called him and he moved his family back to Michigan and attended Calvin where he graduated with a Mathematics Education Degree in 1954. He accepted a contract from Pella Christian High School and moved to Pella in August of 1954. Jay taught math, Latin, and history his first few years but as the school grew he was happy to leave history and Latin to the new teachers and remained teaching the math courses the rest of his tenure. He later added being the assistant principal to his teaching duties. Jay earned his Master’s Degree in Education Administration from Drake University. He enjoyed summer jobs working on the construction of Red Rock Dam, building grain bins, working at Pella Corporation, and lastly teaching drivers’ education.
Jay loved sports of all kinds, especially softball, baseball, and basketball; sports he had excelled in during his high school years. He coached baseball during his first year at Pella Christian. He enjoyed volleyball and golf with other faculty members. He ran the clock for many years for the basketball games. He instigated the beginning of the Student Council and remained its sponsor until his retirement in 1993. This group built a float for the Tulip Time parade every year, promoted the annual Christmas banquet and supervised other school events.
Jay and Audrey attended almost all of their children’s sporting and musical events. Later they did the same for their grandchildren, and recently for the great-grandchildren. Their four children, fifteen grandchildren, and twenty-five great-grandchildren were the joy of his life. Camping and traveling with them provided special happy memories. However, he had another family…the faculty, students, and constituency at Pella Christian High School. He loved the school and loved teaching there. When the high school burned down in January of 1964, Jay was the last to leave the building, taking time to get his briefcase out of the faculty room. For this lack of judgment, his hair below his hat was singed as he fled through the nearest door. Jay was faithful in his calling as an educator for thirty-nine years.
Jay was a faithful charter member of Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Pella where he served as an elder and was a member and leader of various Bible Study groups.
After a few major health events, Jay became a resident of the Pella Regional Health Center LTC facility on November 7, 2012. On April 23, 2013, he was admitted to acute care with congestive heart failure. On April 27 he was admitted to the Hospice of Pella Comfort House, where he died one day later at age eighty-four.
Those left to cherish his memory are his wife, Audrey; his children: Carol and Bruce Ribbens of Pella, Iowa, Terry and Ladene Veldhouse of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Barb and Lauren Oshsner of Maurice, Iowa, and Pam and Ken Vander Linden of New Sharon, Iowa; grandchildren; great-grandchildren; his sister-in-law and her husband, Donna and Tony Van Zanten; and sisters-in-law, Glea Scholten, Berta Rietema, and Ruth Veldhouse.
He was preceded in death by his parents; parents-in-law, Art and Dena Rietema; his brothers: Heiko G., Dan, and Ronald Veldhouse; many in-laws; and a granddaughter-in-law, Sarah (Mulder) Ribbens.
He was a loving and devoted husband, dad, and grandpa and will be greatly missed.
Funeral services were held Saturday, May 4, 2013, at the Pella Christian High School. Burial took place at the Oakwood Cemetery. The Garden Chapel Funeral Home was in charge of the arrangements.