Obituary: Remembering Joris Poldervaart

The following is the life story of Joris Poldervaart, who passed away on June 28 at the age of 86. Written by Pauline and Lana Fay Poldervaart, it was read at Mr. Poldervaart’s funeral service by Leonard Hew.

Joris Poldervaart was born on Sept. 24, 1929 in Vlaardingen, Holland. He was the son of William Poldervaart and Helena Troost-Poldervaart, now deceased.

After World War II, he went to sea as a young man leaving his family and friends in search of fortune and adventure. This took him to many parts of the world, and eventually led him to working on ships in the company of Bergman Dilbert, a Caymanian, when both sailed on the Bay Line ships out of Miami.

Joris Poldervaart, Sept. 24, 1929 – June 28, 2016
Joris Poldervaart, Sept. 24, 1929 – June 28, 2016

On one of these trips to Kingston, Jamaica, he was introduced to his wife, Pauline Ritch through Mr. Dilbert, a member of her family. They formed a relationship and eventually were married at the East Queen Street Baptist Church in Kingston. They remained in a good loving relationship until his passing on Tuesday, June 28, 2016 with her at his bedside.

They had two daughters, Paulette Poldervaart, and Lana Fay Poldervaart. Paulette preceded him in death in 1998.

Joris was a strong, determined and devoted man who took special interest and care of his family. He loved children, animals, music and sports, especially football. He was a talented natural musician from childhood, having played the accordion, harmonica, flute and other instruments without formal training or [sheet] music. Unfortunately these talents remained suppressed and unrecognized throughout the years after Joris left his home in Holland and carved out a profession and living for himself and family. However, as with all talents, they eventually re-emerged and finally he once again rose to the occasion and graced his church with playing the harmonica at the Sunday morning services. This was happily received and appreciated by all who listened to his playing, and he continued to be applauded for his talent and contribution to the church and other social events that he was privileged to perform at.

Joris and Pauline moved from Nassau, Bahamas, where they had been living for a number of years, to the Cayman Islands in 1969. They settled in Grand Cayman, followed by his two daughters, thereafter relocating to Cayman Brac where Joris and Pauline lived for the past 12 years.

He pioneered retail sporting goods in the Cayman Islands and established the store known as Sportsland in Grand Cayman in 1971 [on the site of what is currently the Compass Centre] which remained successful for over 30 years. During this time [stemming from his personal passion for the disciplines], he introduced the martial arts to the Cayman Islands, starting [a karate school on the same location] with Reggie Carey from the Bahamas, as the first Master of Karate.

Thereafter [he brought in] the art of Tae kwon do. This lasted for many years with a number of young people benefiting from this disciplined and skilled sport. He personally achieved 3rd Degree Black Belt status during this time.

His voluntary services within the community, both in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac included 12 years in the initial startup of the Cayman Islands Red Cross. He also served as a Special Constable in the Royal Cayman Islands Police Force during the 1980s under Commissioner Jim Stowers and his successors. He was instructed by Sergeant Burman Scott and received a Service Award for his dedication to the force.

Under the presidency of Captain Dicky Hurlston, on the initiation of the Veterans and Seamen’s Society of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, he joined the Society in 1990 and was an active member until his passing. During this time he served as treasurer for six years and was instrumental in raising funds for the rebuilding of the seamen’s center after the devastating destruction of the facility by Hurricane Paloma in 2008.

He leaves behind his loving wife, Pauline, daughter Lana Fay, and her son Ivan Varga, brother William Poldervaart, nieces Elke and Kim Poldervaart in Holland, and other extended family members in the Cayman Islands and the U.S.

Joris will be remembered by all his family, friends and associates. May his soul rest in peace.

At the service, remarks were also made by Gilbert McLean and Roy Bodden.

The funeral service was held on July 3 at the Veterans and Seamen’s Centre on Cayman Brac.