Cleora De Jong, 82, of Pella celebrated a normal Christmas with her family and her extended family in 2018. On Jan. 4, 2019, she suddenly became ill and very soon passed away at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines. Funeral services were held Jan. 9 at Leighton Christian Reformed Church. Interment was in Evergreen Cemetery, Leighton. Memorials may be given for the Oskaloosa Christian Grade School or Leighton Christian Reformed Church.
Cleora Helen Van Kooten was the third of 10 children born to Gerrit and Durky (Lanser) Van Kooten. She was born Mar. 20, 1936, at Sully and was baptized at the Sully Christian Reformed Church.
Cleora attended Sully Christian School and then stayed at home to help take care of her younger brothers.
Cleora and Francis Lee De Jong met at the Leighton Christian Reformed Church and spent their first date attending a softball game in New Sharon.
Following his discharge from the United States Army after the Korean War, they were united in marriage on a very warm day, Dec. 3, 1954, at the Leighton Christian Reformed Church.
Cleora and Fran raised four ornery children: Karen Lynn, Randal Lee, Belinda Joy, and James Alan. Their first home was southeast of Leighton where they lived until the house burned, and they moved to Galeston Avenue. Fran farmed there for 40 years. The family then moved east of Leighton and in 1984 moved into town. Cleora worked at Central College in Pella for years and cleaned homes for many people. She was also currently the custodian at the Leighton Christian Reformed Church, where she had attended since 1948. She made profession of her faith there and was a member of the Ruth Circle and various Bible study groups over the years. Cleora and Fran were currently two of the three longest living members of the church. Over the years, Cleora was a member of the Farm Bureau and neighborhood clubs.
Those who will cherish her memory are her husband of 64 years, Fran; three children: Karen (Dan) Fynaardt of Oskaloosa, Belinda (Earl) Ramirez of Oskaloosa, Jim (Amy) De Jong of Pella; daughter-in-law, Kris De Jong of Leighton; 13 grandchildren; and 25 great-grandchildren. Of her original family, Cleora leaves the following sisters and brothers and their spouses: Lois (Hoksbergen) and Ray Klyn of Pella, Janice Wielard of Pella, Dwayne Van Kooten of Denver, CO, Roger and Eileen Van Kooten of Pella, Gary and Joyce Van Kooten of Leighton, Wesley and Junella Van Kooten of Leighton; her sisters-in-law: Ruth (Ronald) Van Kooten of Denver, CO, and Gloria (Harvey) Van Kooten of Pella; and Fran’s sister, Edith Pope of Pella.
Cleora was preceded in death by her son, Randal De Jong; her granddaughter, Stacy Jo De Jong; her parents, Gerrit and Durky Van Kooten; a sister who died in infancy; her brothers: Ronald Van Kooten and Harvey Van Kooten; her brothers-in-law, Ralph (Lois) Hoksbergen and Kenneth (Janice) Wielard; her parents-in-law, William and Bertha (Groenendyk) De Jong; and Fran’s sister, Elsie (Dwayne) Van Kooten, his brother Alvin De Jong and his wife, Arlene, and his brother-in-law, Carroll Pope.
Cleora attained the age of 82 years, nine months, and 14 days. She will be remembered for her famous potato salad, pigs in the blanket, and Dutch letter bars. She enjoyed the grandkids’ visits and telephone calls and going to the great-grandchildren’s ball games, birthday parties, and swim meets. Cleora made an afghan or blanket for each of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She gardened and canned enough for the whole family. Camping with the family twice a year and going to the Iowa State Fair every year was a highlight each year. She had many names as a great-grandma, lego grandma, camper grandma, and long grandma. Cleora lived for her family and her church family.