Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Pearl De Jong

September 2, 1931 - June 16, 2024
Grand Rapids, MI



Friday, July 26, 2024
10:30 AM EDT
Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church
940 Neland Avenue SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49507

A reception open to all will be held before the service, beginning at 9 AM

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At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Faith Hospice
8214 Pfeiffer Farms Dr. SW
Byron Center, MI 49315
(616) 235-5113
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Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church
940 Neland Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49507
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Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
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Life Story / Obituary


Generous, warm, and kind, Pearl De Jong lived a life rich in faith, family, and friends.

Throughout her life, she had a heart for people and made lasting connections to those who were drawn to her warm and generous spirit. Pearl embodied the principles of her faith, choosing faith, love, and hope, even in the face of hardship and heartache. Pearl led with her heart in all things, and in doing so, she proved a powerful inspiration for all who were blessed to know her. A cherished wife, stepmother, grandmother, teacher, and friend, Pearl will long be remembered by those she so dearly loved.

Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, the power of hope undulated in the hearts of many. With a natural drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, the nation continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was there more hope for the future than in the home of John and Johanna (Ten Harmsel) Vander Kooi as they welcomed their daughter Pearl to their family on September 2, 1931, in Hull, Iowa.

Pearl grew up on a farm, where she enjoyed the good company of her brother, who was four years older, and had many chores. Both of her parents were Dutch immigrants who enjoyed hosting visitors from the Netherlands and sponsored some others as well. She attended Sioux County Elementary School and then Western Christian High School.

Tragedy struck when news came that her brother was killed in France during WWII at the age of 18. Pearl remained at home after finishing school. She worked for a bank while also caring for her parents. Sadly, both of her parents passed away by the time Pearl was only twenty-five. Despite the challenges of her youth, Pearl chose to be hopeful and optimistic. She focused on the good and maintained a cheerful disposition. She was very close to her extended family, along with some of her Ten Harmsel cousins.

Pearl moved to Grand Rapids to further her education at Grace Bible College, where she earned her teaching certificate. Over the course of her long career, Pearl taught for many schools, including Hudsonville Christian, Oakdale Christian, Jenison Adult Education, Daywork Adult Education, and Alternative Education for Teens. While she valued education, supporting her students in all aspects of their lives was what was most important to Pearl. She consciously created and nurtured meaningful and lasting relationships with her students, ensuring they knew how deeply she cared for them. A consummate educator and model of the value of lifelong learning, Pearl took additional classes as she could, eventually earning her bachelor's degree from Calvin College and her master's degree in reading from Michigan State University.

During her first teaching job in Hudsonville, Pearl carpooled with a few other women who rode with a young pharmacist, Arthur Meyer. Over time, a romance developed, and Pearl and Arthur married in 1976. Their marriage lasted for about 18 years before his death in 1993. As they both worked, they were mainly homebodies outside of their jobs and church community.

Not long after Arthur's death, Pearl met Peter De Jong, who sang in the church choir with her. She and Peter married and enjoyed 18 years together. Pearl delighted in and felt blessed to share in the experience of a large family with Peter's children, grandchildren, and his extended family. Together, the couple enjoyed traveling to visit family and wintering in Sarasota, Florida, for a number of years.

Shortly after moving to Grand Rapids, Pearl became a lifelong, beloved member of Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church, where she actively served throughout her life and touched many lives. She taught Sunday school in the early years. Then, as the community changed, she volunteered in areas, ministering to neighborhood women, eventually taking part in the pastoral care ministry. With her love of people and natural disposition, she thrived in her role in pastoral care.

While Pearl always enjoyed reading throughout her life, during her later years she was drawn to mystery novels and television shows. She was also grateful to have the opportunity to travel to France to visit her brother's grave site. The honor of seeing his grave and bringing memorabilia back to their hometown in Iowa proved very healing.

Throughout her life, people are what mattered most to Pearl. Whether connecting with her students, extended family, her church fellowship, or the families she shared with her husbands, Pearl consciously tended to her relationships. She kept in touch with many, frequently reaching out by phone or scheduling lunches to get groups together. During her last years, Pearl was especially blessed to share companionship with her church family.

Though life feels far less certain in the absence of Pearl's beautiful company, may we find much comfort in our many treasured memories. May we also find comfort in carrying Pearl's indomitable spirit, genuine love for people, unwavering faith, and steadfast companionship forward in our own lives. In this way, we will keep her vibrant spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired us.

Pearl (Vander Kooi Meyer) De Jong passed away June 16, 2024. Pearl is predeceased by brother, William Vander Kooi, first husband, Arthur G. Meyer, and second husband, Peter G. De Jong. She is survived by stepchildren Kenneth (Ruth) De Jong, Evelyn (David) Diephouse, Richard (Christiana deGroot) De Jong, and David (Karen) De Jong; 12 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, and a large extended family of friends.

After a private graveside service, there will be a memorial celebration of her life at Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church on Friday, July 26 at 10:30 AM. A reception open to all will be held before the service, beginning at 9:00 AM. Memorial contributions may be directed to Neland Church or Faith Hospice.

To read more about Pearl, to share a memory or photo, or to sign her guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com