TRAVERSE CITY — On Sept. 14, 2013, Mary Jane Louise Van Lonkhuyzen Dudley, at age 94, gave her final Dutch kisses to this world. Her plate was always full, even in her final days as she took many visits from loving family, who will miss her more than can be put into words. She was born in Chicago, on July 16, 1919, to the Rev. John Van Lonkhuyzen, and his angel of a wife, Katie (nee Dykstra).
Mary Jane was raised the only girl with five brothers, John, William, Calvin, Maurice and Paul, all of whom have gone before her and were surely waiting there to welcome their beloved sister. Mary Jane’s mother passed away when she was nine, and Mary Jane moved with her father and brothers to the Netherlands. After her formal education in the Netherlands, she spent time in England. Mary Jane returned to the Netherlands in 1939, but her family was forced to leave there after the German invasion of the Netherlands and the imminent entry of the United States into World War II. She never forgot the bombings of Rotterdam and Schiphol, seeing the German tanks rolling through town.
Her grandchildren will long remember stories she told about leaving Europe through Berlin, Geneva, Madrid and finally Lisbon. The Germans stopped the family at each border, thinking her father’s written sermons contained hidden codes. She talked of buying oranges through the window of the train using her broken Spanish, and her younger brothers delight in discovering wine in Lisbon, after she and two of her brothers came down with typhoid fever from drinking the water. She never forgot how everyone was brought to tears when the ship finally sailed into New York harbor, and seeing the Statue of Liberty as the national anthem played. She had more adventures in her life than most people can ever dream.