June 22, 1929 – August 28, 2020
Struggling with failing health, Neil passed away peacefully on the evening of August 28, 2020. Neil was born in Blokker, North Holland on June 22, 1929 and was the oldest son in a family of nine. He emigrated to Canada in 1952, working his way across Canada to Nelson, B.C. In 1954, Maria (Riet) Jong arrived from Holland and they were married, the beginning of 65 years. Continuing his pursuit for something in Horticulture, Neil found his ideal piece of property in Erickson and moved the family there in 1960. Beginning as an apple orchard, the land began its evolution of changes, from orchard to mixed gardening, addition of greenhouses and larger market gardens, more commonly known as Groot Farm.
In the early years, Neil worked at the Creston Sawmill as a lumber grader and later for the Town of Creston. As the home business grew, Neil became a full-time farmer working the land, greenhouses and orchard mostly with the help of his wife and children. He took pride in the work he did and in the quality of his produce. Participating in the Creston Valley Fall Fair was something he looked forward to, showing his fruit and vegetables and later serving as a judge and mentor.
In 1992, the Erickson farm was sold, and Neil and Riet moved to smaller parcel of land and home built for them by son Neal. He continued to farm, growing enough to provide the family with fruit and vegetables. The colourful flower display in the yard were their pride and joy and brought many compliments. Neil kept a few beehives to help with the pollination of the blooms and loved to gather the honey that was provided.
Neil was an active member of the Knights of Columbus, and Holy Cross Parish. He served many years with the Creston Valley Fall Fair and he was an active member of the Blossom Valley Singers. Neil enjoyed playing crib and spent many hours at the Seniors Centre doing just that.
Neil was predeceased by his granddaughter Anneka and many of his siblings. He is survived by his wife Riet, daughters Joanne (Richard), Hetti (Ken), Shirley (Fraser), Catherine, and Julie (David); son Neal (Kathy); grandchildren Jennifer, Michelle, Steven, Tyler, Nathan and great grandchildren Derrick, Zachary, Eryk and Oskar.
The family would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the wonderful staff and “Dad’s angels” at Crestview Long Term Care for the excellent care and support.
A Funeral Mass by invitation takes place on Saturday, September 5, 2020, at Holy Cross Parish, Creston, B.C.
Interment at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Erickson, B.C.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: Golden Life Management, c/o of Crestview Care Village ‘Equipment Fund”, 800 Cavell St., Creston, B.C. V0B 1G4
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