Sep 112012

Cornelis Theodorus “Neil the Dutchman” Kortekaas, 76, passed away on Tuesday, July 31, 2012, at Banner Garden Hospice House in Mesa. A rosary has been scheduled at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15, at Our Lady of the Snow Catholic Church in Snowflake, with Mass of Christian Burial to follow at 10 a.m.
Neil was born on July 7, 1936, to Jacob C. Kortekaas and Marie Sophia Petronella Roeleveld-Matthee in Hague, Holland.
When Neil was 6 years old, the Germans invaded Holland. He saw things a child would never forget. He ate things to survive that would make most sick. The experience molded him into a man with a passion to help oth-ers live a better life. At age 12, while still attending school, he worked to help support his parents and siblings.
Neil was a man of many talents. He served in the Dutch Air Force as an M.P.; he enjoyed carpentry and working on ships. In his mid-30s, he started his own steel business in Hague. When the economy there started to decline, Neil made a choice to apply for a visa to come to America with his then wife, two sons and three daughters. From New York they flew to California and settled in Rosemead. He had many different jobs before finding employment with Sears and Roebuck. In 1991, with 22 years of service under his belt, Sears was forced to close its warehouse.
It was then that Neil saw an advertisement in the newspaper for land for sale in the Snowflake-Taylor area of Arizona. He fell in love with the open spaces and purchased property in Cedar Hills, where he spent the rest of his life with his loving wife, Irene, and their many dogs.
There were not many jobs available in Snowflake at the time, so he did a little bit of everything. He worked at Aztec as a caregiver; at Forest Properties as a handyman; and volunteered with the Snowflake/Taylor and Cedar Hills food banks. When Marion Dush asked if he and Irene would take over running the food banks, Neil saw it as a dream come true to feed the hungry. They started with 30 families back then and now feed more than 300.
Fishing and camping was Neil’s idea of a short vacation.
He was a member of the Snowflake/Taylor Lions Club, the senior center, the chamber of commerce and SHV. His dream was to one day establish a community soup kitchen for the needy.
He will be greatly missed by many.
Survivors include his wife of 18 years, Irene (Carlos) Kortekaas of Snowflake; one stepdaughter, Rani Car-los; three grandchildren, Joshua, James and Michael; one great-granddaughter, Olivia; also, from his previous marriage, Antonia Kortekaas, two sons and three daughters, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and two brothers, one in Holland and one in California.
He was preceded in death by his father, Jacabus C. Kortekaas; his mother, Marie Matthee; his stepmother, Lyda Kortekaas; and his brother, Jerry Kortekaas.
If desired, donations may be made in Neil’s name to Banner Heart Hospital in Mesa; Banner Garden Hos-pice House, also in Mesa; or Snowflake/Taylor and Cedar Hills food banks at the First National Bank of Ari-zona in Snowflake.