Passed away peacefully on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Deeply loved by Hedda, his wife of 52 years, his children, Sonja (Búi) of St. John’s, NL and Sarah (Dave) of Cobble Hill, BC, his grandchildren, Stefan and Tóbin, his three fur grandkids, Cedar, Cosmo, and Silah, and his sister Corrie in the Netherlands. He will also be missed by his family and in-laws in Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, and Suriname, as well as by countless friends and colleagues around the world.
A geochemist by training, he enjoyed a varied career, from early work as a Professor of physical chemistry in Venezuela, to research in oil and gas at the Alberta Research Council. His tenure as Director of the Alberta Geological Survey led to later positions at the Geological Survey of Canada: first as Liaison Officer between the provincial and national geological surveys, and then as Director General of the Geological Survey of Canada, a position he held until his retirement. While officially retired, he remained dedicated to sharing his expertise, making presentations and facilitating workshops in different parts of the world, including delivering webinars on corporate social responsibility in both Canada and South America, and working on projects with the International Association of Professional Geoethics (IAPG).
Upon retirement, Jan pivoted away from geochemistry towards the social sciences, embarking on a second Master’s degree, this time in Globalization and International Development and then, as a further challenge, a second PhD, this time in Sociology. In addition to his formal degrees, Jan pursued a range of other interests, including completing a certificate in intercultural communication. He studied Japanese for many years and also took courses in blacksmithing, woodworking, and even (briefly), accordion.
Jan was always doing something – whether that was fixing his VW van, working in the garden, fixing something in the house, tapping the backyard maple, or making (and drinking!) beer. Throughout his life, Jan maintained an intense and indeed almost childlike curiosity about the world around him. He was a gregarious, social man who loved music, travelling (South America in particular), dancing, wine, and exploring different languages and cultures. He laughed loudly and sang with enthusiasm (though, it must be said, without any sense of pitch). He lived life to the fullest, and when he found a passion, he could beaver away at it for years.
A private family service will be held at the Pinecrest Remembrance Chapel. In lieu of flowers, and for those who so wish, donations may be made to Canadian Lutheran World Relief.