Dirk de Wit, husband to Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve and father of Helena de Wit, died in 1926 of an “incurable malady.” He was just 53 years old.
To the right is the obituary for Dirk, who was my great-great-grandfather. It’s a clipping that Helena saved from an unknown newspaper, and, interestingly, it is written quite differently from how obituaries are written nowadays. Obituaries are so standard now that I never really gave much thought to how they used to be written. Since the clip is written in Dutch, I pasted a slightly paraphrased version of the Google translation below:
“A highly regarded and meritorious townsman is gone from us and received by death. At the age of 53 years, Mr. Dirk de Wit, teacher of Tot Nut van het Algemeen, has died. The deceased served education in an exemplary way — nothing was too much to do in the interest of his students — and he was held in high esteem by students and their parents.
Mr. de Wit was no stranger to the public and society, serving on many committees — especially the Dutch Reformed Church, which loses in him a most zealous and religious member. In this church, he held prominent positions. He was a member of the church council, secretary treasurer of the Board of Deacons and administer prelate of the church.
Furthermore, the deceased was the founding president of the church choir, Excelsior, and the long-time president of Our Covenant, which he resigned from recently due to health reasons. Also in the charitable realm, Mr. de Wit was very active and recently was appointed a member of the Board of Directors for the Arms Council [a charitable organization that helped poor people with relief, medical care, etc.].
A serious illness recently attacked his strong constitution, and though it was an incurable malady, nobody expected that death would so soon put an end to the life of this hard worker, who had acquired many friends.
May he rest in peace.”
Helena also kept a clipping of the article following his burial, with the headline “Impressive Funeral”:
This clip talks about some of the same things the obituary did, but also about the fanfare of his funeral. A copy and paste version of the Google Translate with frequent tweaking and paraphrasing (because, let’s face it, Google Translate doesn’t work awesomely with nearly 90-year-old wording) is below:
Mr. Dirk de Wit was buried here this morning at the Protestant cemetery.When the body, covered with a wealth of flowers, was brought to the cemetery, groups of students and former students of the Nutschool system gathered at the gates. Also in attendance were the elders and deacons of the Dutch Reformed Church, teachers of Nutschool, the church choir Excelsior, a deputation of Our Covenant, and very many other interested parties.
After the coffin was lowered into the ground, Ds. W. Meindersma, president of the church council, spoke first. He thanked the deceased for everything he’d lectured as an interested and compassionate member that could not be missed more. Also on behalf of the college of deacons, of which he was an accountant, he thanked him.
Scr. said he did not to want to talk about what has been, but he posed the question: What will he be now?
Memoreerend Longfellow spoke about the deceased’s faith and how he has a new journey now that will take him to his final post, where he might be closer to God. He also said how those left behind should remember the teachings Dirk shared with them.
Scr. took leave with the wish that once everyone left the proceedings, they would still have the word of the deceased in their hearts and that it will continue to resound.
Mr. J. Eisma then spoke on behalf of the school board and pointed out how the board had always been pleased over the years by the deceased and had taken note of the results of the education given by him.
Furthermore, he thanked the deceased for everything he has done for the Dutch Reformed Church, saying it would be difficult to find a replacement because there are few people who so selflessly undertake and fulfill their duties.
On behalf of teachers and colleagues, Mr. R. Zuidema, director of Nutschool, spoke of Dirk’s hard work:
‘The 20 years he has almost never failed at the school, because he knew no minor ailments. Even when in the beginning of this year disease wrecked his strength, he kept coming as long as it was possible. Thus his has become an example of the greatest duty. By his students, he was loved for his great cheerfulness, which he knew to awaken their faith. For each, he was a loyal colleague and a best friend and his work will live until the end of time.’
Mr. H. van den Last, director of the church choir, Excelsior, outlined the work of the deceased president, noting that all attempts in his work suggested the highest levels possible to implement.
Scr. expressed the hope that his spirit will remain among the living, so that always justice will remain.
Mr. F. Meulbroek spoke on behalf of Our Covenant. Afterwards, Excelsior sang a harmonized “Above the Stars” in French.
A relative spoke last and a psalm was read. All were deeply impressed.”
Here’s a link to a performance of “Boven de Sterren” [Above the Stars] on YouTube.com.
And here’s another newspaper article and death notice for Dirk de Wit that I found after the initial publishing of this post: Continue reading