“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”
John C. Maxwell
Durk was a natural born leader. It began with his upbringing in the province of Friesland, Netherlands where he was surrounded by many fiercely proud and independent Dutchmen. Once in the military he became a sergeant at a young age. As a young couple, he and Dingena ventured out to call Canada their new home. In life he worked hard and always led by example. When not at home, Durk was leading in the community. He held a variety of positions in local government over the years and was always looking for ways to push himself further. He passed many of these traits onto his children and grandchildren.
Durk Botma was born on August 23, 1925 in Marrum, Netherlands to parents Ruurd and Sadie (Offringa) Botma. He was the fifth oldest of thirteen Botma children. In time, Durk attended public, high school and eventually agricultural college. In June of 1945 Durk was attending choir practice and was introduced to a beautiful young woman by the name of Dingena Lindhout. Although they came from different areas of the country and had different dialects their love for each other was too strong and soon began dating.
Life in the Netherlands was not easy at this time and on at least one occasion Durk and his family had to flee Nazi soldiers. He was soon drafted into the military, it was May of 1946. Durk knew he was going to be deployed, however he felt it was important to show his commitment to Dingena and therefore asked her to marry him on October 1, 1946. He left for Indonesia on October 16. Three long, hard years followed for the young couple as Durk rose the ranks in the military and Dingena prayed at home for his safe return. That return came on October 3, 1949, whereby he started working for his father at their farm supply company. He and Dingena were married on October 26, 1950 in Eindhoven, and quickly decided that they wanted to leave the Netherlands for a better life.
In January of 1951, they gave their names to emigrate to Canada. They were soon sponsored by George and Blanche Sutherland in Chatsworth, Ontario. They left Rotterdam, Netherlands on June 13, 1951 on S.S. Volendam and started their 10-day journey to Halifax. This was one of the last times the couple was separated, as they did everything together, but at this time men and women were required to travel separately so they did not see each other during their ten days at sea. From Halifax they made their way by train to Toronto and then north to Chatsworth. In later years his children questioned Durk “why Chatsworth?” and his quick response, “That is where the train tracks ended.”
They soon settled in with the Sutherlands and a short time later moved into a small house on the property. Durk was a farm hand and worked very hard to save money for their own property. The young couple soon welcomed their daughter, Anna Mary, it was January 1952. On May 9, 1953 the couple bought Evergreen Farm in Peabody from Mrs. Kate McGregor. Here Roy (1953) and George (1955) joined their family to make the Botma clan complete. A couple of years later, 1957, Durk and Dingena proudly received their Canadian citizenship.
In addition to milking cows and raising a variety of livestock the Botma’s also had a large orchard were there were a variety of fruit trees, including apple, pear, plum, cherry and even a peach tree. Times were difficult in these early years on the farm and Durk was forced to work outside the farm as well. Over the years he helped harvest tobacco in Port Elgin, worked in the lumber yard at the Chesley Factory as well as the Desboro Feed Mill. He also was involved with the United Cooperative of Ontario in Chesley for 15 years.
As you can imagine there was little free time for Durk and Dingena but they always enjoyed their drives to Beaver Valley in the fall to take in the scenery and get apples. The couple also enjoyed square dancing, judging at local fall fairs and socializing with their neighbours. It was in the 70’s when Durk took an interest in local politics and ran for Sullivan council. He won of course and this led to a long political career that included time on Chesley Town Council, Reeve of Chesley and finally Bruce County Council.
In 1979, the couple sold the farm and moved to Chesley. It was during this time that Durk enjoyed woodworking, his model train set and of course his flower gardens, particularly his roses. He along with Dingena were members of the Chesley Horticultural Society. The couple also did a lot of singing together over the years. They often sang publicly, as a duet, with hymns being their favourites. Durk enjoyed reading the newspaper, watching sports, particularly soccer and basketball and who could forget his beloved BBC. Coffee (with double cream) and hamburgers were staples in Durk’s diet but he also had a soft spot for McDonalds apple pies.
Durk was a strong, honest man, who was also spiritual. He was very faithful and loyal to his beloved wife Dingena. He was a private person but enjoyed socializing and had a great sense of humour.
In 2000, Durk and Dingena moved to The Village in Hanover. Here, they continued to enjoy life surrounded by family and friends. Sadly, Dingena passed away in 2016 and Durk lost his soulmate. Life became very different for him in his final couple years and although he loved his family dearly, Dingena’s absence was ever present.
Durk Botma of Hanover, formerly of Chesley, passed away at Hanover & District Hospital on Monday, August 6, 2018 in his 93rd year.
Loving father of Anna Mary (Ross) Weber of Port Rowan, Roy (Debbie) of East Linton and George (Elizabeth) of Bognor. Durk will live on in the hearts and minds of his eight grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and his siblings Ruurd and Anneke in the Netherlands. He was predeceased by his beloved wife Dingena and ten siblings.
Visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Monday, August 13, 2018 from 12 noon until the celebration of Durk’s life beginning at 2 p.m. Interment in Chesley Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Heart & Stroke Foundation or Canadian Cancer Society would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.
Durk’s family would like to extend a special thanks to Barb and Shelley, who helped care for Dad. He loved and respected them dearly. Thank you!