Friday, March 6, 2009

A Tribute to Jack van der Geest

First let me say that I am a huge fan of history. I even got a degree in history just because I had taken enough classes just because I was interested in them, to qualify for a degree while I was working towards a different degree.

I got an email from my mom this morning letting me know that Jack van der Geest had died at the age of 85. This man had an amazing life, and I had the honor of meeting him and getting to know him a little. Here is the link to the newspaper article about him.

When I was in college in 1987, Jack van der Geest was a guest speaker in my history class. I was amazed by his story. I went home and told my dad, a history buff, about him. My dad actually knew him from doing some work at his home. My dad didn't know anything about Jack's past. I bought my dad Jack's book, Was God on Vacation, and my dad, my husband, and I all read it. His story is truly remarkable.

Fast forward to March 2001. I was working at the hospital, 7 months pregnant with Leia, and Jack van der Geest became my patient. I was absolutely thrilled. I probably scared him at first with my enthusiasm at meeting him. He had an injured shoulder, and so 2-3 times a week, he came in and saw me and I worked on his shoulder, leaving much time for conversation. I reread his book and asked him as many questions as possible. When I went on maternity leave with Leia, I discharged Jack, who was off to Europe for a speaking trip. I was hoping that hubby was going to get a job and that I wouldn't go back to work. I truly felt that God had allowed me to meet and treat Jack as a parting gift to me.

I could never get a feel for Jack and his relationship with the Lord. From the article in the paper, it says that he had a lot of faith in God. I truly hope and pray that Jack was right with the Lord and celebrating in heaven right now. The thing about Jack that struck me the most was that he had lived an unbelievable life, experiencing and doing things that are unfathomable, and yet he lived a productive life, raising a son, and was a delightful man. A tribute to the human spirit and a man living the American dream. I hope to meet him again in heaven!


  1. Hi Amy, I read about Jack as well and commented on how wonderful it would be to have known him personally. Love your blog! Found you by way of Vanessa's blog

  2. In middle school, I picked up his book, "Was God on Vacation?", and fell in love reading about all the events Jack went through during WWII. He actually visited during my 7th grade year just after I read that book. I asked him to sign the book, and he wrote "Enjoy your "Freedom", Jack". Afterwards I asked him if he still had the German soldiers clothing from the Buchenwald camp, and he told me he still carried the boots in the trunk of his car. What an amazing individual one that I would believe is more rare to find these days.


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