|Birth: ||Mar. 4, 1906|
|Death: ||Jul. 16, 1991|
Meindert De Jong, sometimes spelled de Jong, DeJong, Dejong or Deyoung, was born in 1906 in the Netherlands and came to the United States when his parents emigrated from the Netherlands to Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1914. A gifted storyteller, he graduated from Calvin College in 1928 and began his literary career in 1938 with the publication of The Big Goose and the Little White Duck. Meindert De Jong won the most prestigious awards offered in the U.S. for children's literature, including the Newbery Medal in 1955 and the National Book Award in 1969. In 1962, he became the first American to win the international Hans Christian Andersen Award. Walt Disney Studios dramatized Hurry Home, Candy in 1962, and Far Out the Long Canal in 1969. He ultimately published 27 books, with 25 of them being translated into 22 languages.
Meindert De Jong married three times and died in 1991 in Allegan, in the western part of Michigan. He didn't have children.
He was born in 1906 as Meindert de Jong in the village of Wierum on the North Sea coast in the northeastern part of the Dutch northern province of Friesland, son of carpenter Remmeren de Jong (1876 Westdongeradeel - 1967 Grand Rapids, Michigan) and Jantje de Jong (1876 Wierum - 1953 Grand Rapids, MI). Meindert had three brothers: David [Cornel] (1901 Blija, Ferwerderadeel, Friesland, NL - 1967 Providence, Rhode Island), Remmeren "Raymond" (1902 Blija - 1982 Grandville, Kent, MI) and Cornelis David "Neil"(1911 Wierum - 2008 Grand Rapids, Kent, MI).
The Christian Reformed family De Jong emigrated on 16 May 1914 from Wierum, Friesland, Netherlands to Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan, United States. They arrived on 2 June 1914 on the SS Nieuw Amsterdam at the port of New York, Ellis Island. In Grand Rapids they lived successively in four houses in the vicinity of Wealthy Street and Diamond Avenue. The De Jongs joined the nearby Dennis Avenue Christian Reformed Church. The four boys Americanized quickly, but initially endured hazing as newly-arrived immigrants.
In 1920 Meindert Deyoung (13 y), his father Remnen Deyoung (43), his mother Jantje (43), his brothers David (18), Remnen (17) and Corniel (9) lived in Ward 2 of Grand Rapids, Kent County, in the western part of Michigan.
Meindert attended Dutch Calvinist secondary schools and Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and entered the University of Chicago, but left without graduating.
In 1930 Meinard (24), his father Raymond De Jong (53), his mother Jennie (54) and his brother Corniel (19) lived in Walker, a northwestern suburb of Grand Rapids, Kent County, in the western part of Michigan.
Meindert married on 6 July 1933 to Hattie Overeinder, a former girl next door in Grand Rapids, whose family immigrated in 1913 from the city of Veendam, in the Dutch northeastern province Groningen. Hattie, baptized Harmke, Overeinder was born on 28 February 1903 in Veendam.
He held various jobs during the Great Depression and began writing children's books at the suggestion of a local librarian. His first book, The Big Goose and the Little White Duck, was published in 1938. He wrote several more books before joining the US Army Air Corps during World War II, serving in China.
In April 1940 Meindert Dejong (34, author) and his wife Hattie [Overeinder] (37, Netherlands) lived at a rented home in Ward 3 of Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan.
On 31 May 1943 Meindert De Jong was in Kalamazoo, Michigan
enlisted for military service as a private for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law. He was an author with four years of college education. He received in 1944 orders to travel via South America, Africa, India and South Asia to the headquarters of the Chinese-American 68th Composite Wing, US Army Air Corps, where he rapidly promoted to sergeant.
After the war he resumed writing, and for several years resided in Mexico. He returned for a time to Michigan.
Meindert remarried in 1962 after the divorce from Hattie to Beatrice DeClaire McElwee, member of a writing class he taught. She brought five children from her first mrriage with her. They retired to Mexico for six years but eventually decided to return to the United States. They moved in 1968 for five years to Chapel Hill in North Carolina. Beatrice died there in 1978, eight days after a heart attack. Meindert moved then to Allegan, Michigan.
Meindert married 11 years later to his good friend since high school and since 1983 widowed Gwen Jonkman Zandstra. Meindert died about eight months after this marriage, in July 1991 at the age of 85 years in Allegan, in the western part of Michigan. His widow Gwen died in February 1998 at the age of 89 years in Highland, Lake County, in the utter Northwestern part of Indiana.
In 1962 De Jong won the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award for his lasting contribution to literature for young people. He was the first American recipient of the honor, the highest international recognition for a creator of children's books (later, for a writer or illustrator).
He was also recognized many times for particular works.
* Shadrach and Hurry Home Candy were both runners-up for the Newbery Medal in 1954.
* The Wheel on the School won the U.S. Newbery Medal in 1955 and the second annual Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in 1957 (in its German translation, Das Rad auf der Schule, with new illustrations by Marianne Richter). It was named to the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award list in 1963.
* The House of Sixty Fathers received the Josette Frank Award (then named the Children's Book Award of the Child Study Association) in 1956. It was a Newbery runner-up in 1957.
* Along Came a Dog was a Newbery runner-up in 1959.
* Journey from Peppermint Street won the inaugural National Book Award in category Children's Books in 1969
See also: http://www.calvin.edu/hh/origins/Spring08_26_1.pdf#page=16 and http://www.calvin.edu/hh/origins/Spring10.pdf
His brother David Cornel de Jong was also a noted writer.
Remmeren De Jong (1876 - 1967)
Jantje de Jong De Jong (1876 - 1953)
Gwendolyn M Jonkman Zandstra De Jong (1908 - 1998)
David Cornel De Jong (1901 - 1967)*
Remmeren De Jong (1902 - 1982)*
Meindert De Jong (1906 - 1991)
Kornelis David De Jong (1911 - 2008)*
Created by: Peter Hakze
Record added: Dec 17, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 121837741