Obituary of Gerard Johannes van Rijn
It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Gerardus Johannes Adrianus Hermanus van Rijn, aged 74, on January 11th, in Kingston, Ontario. Gerard, known affectionately as Gerry, passed away from heart complications, leaving behind a legacy of warmth, dedication, and countless memories.
Gerry was devoted to his family and is survived by his loving wife, Kathryn Baker, and his three daughters, Julie (Elad Gafni), Carol (Dan Pelletier), and Rachael (James Chow). He leaves behind a cherished legacy through his three grandchildren, Oren, Leo, and Keelin. Gerry was preceded in death by his parents, Gerard and Bea Van Rijn. He also is survived by an extensive family of eight brothers and sisters (Jack, Ted, Betty, John, Herman, Dorothy, Joe and Leny) and their respective spouses and children.
Born on August 21, 1949, in Maarssen, Utrect, Netherlands, Gerry was a cherished son of Gerard Van Rijn and Bea Litjens. They immigrated to Canada soon after and settled in London, Ontario where Gerry enjoyed his childhood with his 8 siblings. He moved to Ottawa in his early adult life and gained a civil engineering degree from Carleton University. Gerry's professional journey led him to Montreal, where he contributed his skills to Dominion Bridge, a steel bridge construction company. Gerry moved back to Ottawa, changed jobs and became an integral part of Forintek, a wood products research firm, specializing in preserving wood foundations. His expertise extended to heritage buildings, including renovations to Parliament Hill. Subsequently, Gerry dedicated many years to Public Works, conducting site visits to preserve heritage buildings in remote locations, including Whitehorse and Dawson City. His heritage conservation efforts have left an indelible mark on Canada's architectural legacy.
Together, Kathryn and Gerry spent time in Ottawa, then Calgary and eventually established a peaceful home in Spencerville, with their cat Tobij, where they settled shortly before Gerry's well-deserved retirement.
Beyond his professional pursuits, Gerry found solace and joy in various hobbies. His sheer physical strength and love of the outdoors fueled a passion for hiking, canoeing, cycling, and cross-country skiing. His artistic spirit was evident through his sketching and photography, capturing the beauty he found in the world around him. He also read extensively and was known for his intelligence, wit, and dry sense of humour.
Thank you to the staff at Kingston General Hospital, Brockville Hospital, St Lawrence Lodge and Ottawa Hospital (spinal cord) Rehabilitation Center for their kindness, expertise and care of Gerry over the last 2.5 years since his life changing fall in the spring of 2021.
A memorial service will be held for Gerry at First United/ All Saint’s Anglican Church in Westboro (347 Richmond Rd), Ottawa on Saturday, January 20th at 2pm, followed by a reception gathering afterwards. In accordance with Gerry's wishes, his ashes will be scattered at locations significant to him at a later date. The family kindly requests that any memorial donations be made to Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (https://sciontario.org) or a cause close to your heart in Gerry's memory.
Street parking is available nearby. Give yourself extra time to find parking as the area can be quite busy on Saturday afternoons.
To join the event virtually, here is the link:
Join Zoom Meeting
Note: If you have your camera on you may be seen on the screens in the sanctuary. The event will also be recorded and can be shared with those who cannot make it.
1033 Prince Street
137 Pearl Street East
Tel: (613) 659-2127
FE ~ 254
Operator Class 1
Tel: (613) 342-2792
FE ~ 61
Operator Class 1