My name is Eric Althuizen, the son of John. Our family thanks you for being here today to celebrate the life of a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend. While his passing leaves us with a great sense of loss and sadness, we will always treasure the memories we have of him and the impact he had on our lives.
My father lived a long, wonderful and eventful life.
My father was born in Deurne, the Netherlands, on December 17, 1924 to Leonardus and Maria Althuizen. He grew up in a large family with 5 sisters and 2 brothers.
He was attending school in a seminary in Deurne when the Germans invaded the Netherlands in May of 1940. When working for the post office in the early days of the occupation, he intentionally did not deliver the pro-German newspapers on his routes, and he also made sure that he scheduled his deliveries to farmers around meal time, hoping that the farmers would offer him something to eat. You see, my father, even though he was always provided with ample food, was always hungry and thinking about where he was going to get his next meal.
Eventually, the Germans began requiring Dutch men to report to forced labor camps inside Germany. When my father received word that he was to report, he left his hometown and went into hiding. During his 2 years in hiding, he went by the alias of Jan Knubbel, and as part of the Dutch Underground, he assisted in keeping downed Allied pilots out of the hands of the Germans so that the pilots could return safely to the Allies.
When his hometown was liberated in September of 1944, he returned home to Deurne. The U.S. Army 7th Armored Division had established headquarters in Deurne and because of his proficiency in foreign languages, he was asked to join the American army as an interpreter. My father was excited to join the army, not only for the adventure, but he knew that the Americans fed their soldiers well. To the men in Company B of the 23rd Infantry Battalion he became known as “Johnny the Dutchman”.
He fought in several battles, including the Battle of the Bulge, and continued to fight as an American soldier for the remainder of the war. He was wounded and hospitalized twice, receiving two Purple Hearts. His second Purple Heart was presented to him on the anniversary of D-Day, in Normandy during his recent trip to Europe last June.
My father was one of the longest serving foreign nationals in the American army during the war, serving until November 1946. Because of his service to the United States, he was granted a visa and was given the opportunity to return home with the American troops.
Once in America, he made his way to San Francisco because it was the farthest place away from Europe and the war. When he arrived in San Francisco, he only had his uniform to wear and a quarter in his pocket. This was the start of his American dream.
He became a US citizen, worked hard at various jobs, and went to school in the evenings to study landscape design which led him to starting his own landscape design business, Holland Landscaping.
In 1961, my father returned to his hometown for a visit. His sisters and brother in-law had told him about the girl named Jeanne at the local pharmacy and my father was very intrigued. He went into the pharmacy and pretended to have a cold so she would prescribe something for his symptoms. Although she would not go out with him initially, he was persistent, and she finally agreed. They dated for about 3 months before he returned to America, but before he left, he arranged for a local florist to deliver a flower every week to her in his absence. Several months later when my father proposed, my mother came to America, and they married in May of 1962 in Belmont California.
In 1964, they moved to Novato where they raised their 4 children: Desiree, Eric, Philip and Astrid. It was here that he lived until his passing, enjoying many fond memories of his children and grandchildren Tyler, Sara, Shelby, and Rosie.
My father is most remembered for his character, strength, courage, generosity, honesty, toughness, sense of humor and for his love of family, friends, food, and chocolate.
He lived his life to the fullest and he was happiest spending time with family and friends, traveling, creating beautiful gardens and landscapes, and throwing barbecues and parties.
We remember:

• How he loved people, and how he adored his grandchildren.

His contagious laugh, especially when he got together with his Dutch friends.

That every year he would send my mother roses on their anniversary equal in number to the number of years they were married, with two pairs of roses in different colors, signifying their 2 sons and daughters.

• He was always there to watch every one of our sporting events when we were growing up.

• That he never missed a meal and was always looking forward to his next one.

• How he loved “Joes” restaurants, and the epic 2 hour work lunches.

• That he would love to pick us up at school and take us to ice cream, spoiling our appetites so we were no longer hungry to eat the dinner my mother had slaved over all day.

• How he would invite everybody he saw in town to his birthday parties. We never knew how many people were going to show up at the house.

• How he loved to take the family on long vacations, which were always filled with special experiences.

• How particular he was, and that he preferred things be done his way.

• How he snuck chocolates, even though he was not supposed to eat sweets.

• That he expected us to live independently and learn from our experiences, but he was always there to help if needed.

• That he was confident, calm and never worried about things.

.• And finally, the twinkle in his eye and his unforgettable smile.
As we say goodbye, we are comforted by the memories we had with him. He taught us the value of hard work, the importance of family and the joy of celebrating life.
Pop, we will never forget the lessons you taught us or the love you shared with us. You will always hold a special place in our hearts and we will miss you every day. Thank you for being an amazing husband, father, grandfather and friend. We love you and may you rest in peace.
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