Obituary: Petrus Clemens van der Bol, 1938-2014

Petrus Clemens van der Bol, known to us as Peter or, quite simply, Dutchman, was born in Scheveningen, a small fishing village in Holland, on March 13, 1938. He was the fifth child of Jacobus and Else Marie van der Bol. 

Peter’s early years were spent in the cauldron of World War II, and he was only 7 years old when Germany was finally defeated. Holland’s task of rebuilding a devastated country took shape, and the young Peter saw and felt the challenge and wonder of bringing forth new life out of the ashes of death and destruction. These experiences were ultimately to define his life. 

After finishing his secondary education, he went on to become a mechanical engineer while working part-time with his father on large building projects. In time, his focus shifted to the ocean and he became a marine engineer. Working mainly on freighters, he sailed extensively in the north Atlantic, the North Sea, the Mediterranean and along the west coast of Africa. 

At the age of 22, he was asked to sail as chief engineer on a small freighter that had been bought by a Foster-Webster partnership. The boat left Holland in the late summer of 1960 to make the trans-Atlantic journey to Jamaica. Peter was to fly back to Holland after the crossing. 

But destiny had other plans, and so the adventurous Dutchman met the equally adventurous Jamaican-Caymanian, Sandra Eldemire, and after knowing one another for nine days, they were joined in marriage on Sept. 29, 1960. Two days later, Peter was again headed out to sea, but this time, with his bride on board. 

On Aug. 1, 1961, their first son, Wellesley, was born, and on Feb. 3, 1964, their second son, Christian, joined them. By this time, Peter had resigned his position as chief engineer of the Bister Trader and had become assistant port superintendent of Reynolds Jamaica Mines in Ocho Rios. In time, the family moved to Kingston and Peter joined the Water Commission as the engineer in charge of all the pumping stations. 

In 1973, Peter and family moved to Grand Cayman, and it was here that the remainder of Peter’s life was spent. He loved the island and its people and was soon the most sought-after fixer of broken engines. He teamed up with Sandra’s cousin, Adrian Briggs, to fix, deliver and protect his boats. Many a time, in the wee hours of the morning, Peter and Sandra would hear a tapping on their bedroom window and Adrian calling: “Dutchman! Nor’wester coming! Help me move the boats!” 

In the late ‘70s a profound paradigm shift occurred in the life of the van der Bols as both Peter and Sandra became followers of Christ. Also, their daughter Rachael Anne was born, on Dec. 26, 1977. 

With the same passion and authenticity that Peter had applied to everything he had ever done, he began his journey with Christ. As radical as Jesus had been 2000 years ago when he walked as a man among us, Peter, the “rock,” became more and more a reflection of the heart of God as revealed in Christ. He was never a religious man, but the love and caring that flowed from him reached out into the lives of everyone he encountered. Peter, the fixer of engines became the tool in the hand of God to fix broken lives and help the devastated ones to rebuild their future on the solid, immovable foundation of faith in Yeshua, faith in Christ. 

New adventures opened. He became involved in working to establish drug rehab facilities and erected the buildings for the Canaan Land Home on property in the Hutland Area that had been purchased for this purpose. The vision was pure and strong when he was involved and the public sensed this and rallied to the cause. 

He also became involved in Prison Ministry as a volunteer and ultimately became chaplain of the prison. During this time, he initiated the building of a chapel at the heart of the prison and was so able to galvanize public support that it never cost government a penny. To this day, he is deeply loved by many who have spent time incarcerated. 

In 2000, Peter went to work as chaplain of the Lord’s Ranch in Arkansas, where his unconditional love, coupled with his unending outflow of humor, planted the seeds of God’s love into the lives of many, many broken boys and girls. 

In between all of the above, Peter, Sandra, Rachael and a foster daughter, Betsy, spent 16 months sailing around the Caribbean on a 44-foot ketch named Shekinah. Wes, thankfully, had joined them for the dangerous crossing from Jamaica to Aruba. In spite of a terrible storm that blew them into Colombia, it was mostly a time of refreshing and adventure. 

Peter was a man of unfailing integrity, profound compassion, diligent dependability, quick wit and irrepressible humor. He loved well, laughed often, and lived life to the fullest. We are all blessed to have had him in our lives. 

He will be desperately missed by his wife and all the members of his family, both here and in Holland. And he will be missed by the multitude of friends and acquaintances that now mourn his passing. 

Bon voyage, beloved Dutchman, 

With all our love, 

Wife of 54 years, Sandra 

Sons, Wellesley and Christian 

Daughter, Rachael Costa 

Grandchildren, Peter, Ryan, Chloe, Shannon and Kelly van der Bol 

Ocean, Sage, James and Ziva Costa 

Son and daughters-in-law, Jerry Costa, Debbie, Nancy and Cathy van der Bol 

Foster daughter, Betsy Lopez 

Foster grandchildren, Shanley and Anaiah 

And in Holland and the U.K. 

Sisters, Chris, Ankie and Else and their families 

Brother, Heinz and his wife 

“Well done, my good and faithful servant, beloved son!” were the words that greeted him as he entered into the glorious Presence of the God of the Universe on Sunday morning, Nov. 9, 2014. 

His youngest grandchild, Ziva Rose, now 6, responded tearfully to the news of his death with these words: “Well… Opa is having church with Jesus today… and He’s taking our tears and letting them wash up on the sandy shore like the ocean.” 

The Family of Peter van der Bol are so thankful for the outpouring of love and concern that followed his passing. Thanks for the kind words, the cards, the sharing of memories, the gifts. Special thanks to First Baptist Church, The Bodden Funeral Home, Health City Cayman and Chrissie Tomlinson Hospital, and to the Cayman Hospice team for their care and guidance during this difficult time. May God richly bless you all. Rejoice with us that we will see our beloved Peter again. 

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