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Wreaths Across America

Members of the community will once again be able to purchase wreaths for a veteran’s grave in recognition of Wreaths Across America Day, Saturday, December 17, 2016.

What began as The Arlington Wreath project, started by Morrill Worcester in 1992 with the donation and laying of 5000 Christmas wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery, is now a nationwide tradition. The mission of Wreaths Across America is Remember, Honor, Teach. This is carried out in part by coordinating wreath laying ceremonies on Wreaths Across America Day at Arlington, as well as veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond.

It has been possible to sponsor a wreath to be placed on a veteran’s grave in the Keokuk National Cemetery for many years through Keokuk radio stations. DeJong-Greaves Celebration of Life Centers later joined their efforts to be a sponsorship location for a veteran’s grave located in any local cemetery. Both the KOKX Country Z93 offices and DeJong-Greaves will continue their participation this year.

The importance of honoring each fallen serviceman/woman as an individual is stressed. The national wreath laying service will be held on Saturday, December 12, which was unanimously voted by the US Congress as “Wreaths Across America™ Day”. Everyone is welcome to attend the local service held at Keokuk National Cemetery on December 17th at 11:00 AM. By offering sponsorships to the public, Wreaths Across America hopes that one day every veteran’s resting place will be adorned with a wreath for the holiday season.

You may honor a veteran buried at any local cemetery by sponsoring a $15 Wreath to adorn their grave. Orders may be placed at DeJong-Greaves Celebration of Life Centers business office at 917 Blondeau Street in Keokuk. Additional wreaths for veterans buried in Keokuk National Cemetery may be ordered through KOKX Country Z93 by submitting payment at KSB Bank to Wreaths Across America, and bringing the receipt to their offices at 108 Washington in Keokuk to complete the order. Orders may be placed now through 4:00 PM on Wednesday, November 23rd.


DeJong-Greaves Celebration of Life Centers will host their fourth annual Butterfly Release and memorial service Sunday, July 31, 2016 at 2:00 P.M. at the Flower Gardens in Rand Park in Keokuk.

The focus of the program will be transforming grief for what has been lost into hope for what is yet to come. The event will include a brief program that will conclude with the release of live butterflies. Light refreshments will follow. This program is open to the public and everyone is welcome to attend. Anyone wishing to attend should call DeJong-Greaves by Monday July 25 th to reserve a complimentary butterfly to release at the program.

“This is a wonderful way to honor the memory of loved ones and to connect with others who are also grieving the loss of a loved one” says Dirk DeJong, who owns the funeral home with his wife, Terry DeJong. “It is a very moving memorial for those members of our community who want to find hope and comfort in the midst of their grief” adds Terry DeJong. Dirk and Terry are trained funeral celebrants and through that knowledge provide a sincere ceremony that acknowledges the profound loss that can be felt after someone dies.

If you have any questions regarding this program or wish to reserve a complimentary butterfly to release at the program, please call the funeral home at 524-2340 or 1-800-699-2340.

Click here to a handout of this event that can be printed.


You are Invited to Our Holiday Remembrances Program on December 13th

Click here to download a printable copy of this invitation.


Sponsor a wreath to be placed on any veteran’s grave for the holidays until November 27th.

Members of the community will once again be able to purchase wreaths for a veteran’s grave in recognition of Wreaths Across America Day, Saturday, December 12, 2015.

What began as The Arlington Wreath project, started by Morrill Worcester in 1992 with the donation and laying of 5000 Christmas wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery, is now a nationwide tradition. The mission of Wreaths Across America is Remember, Honor, Teach. This is carried out in part by coordinating wreath laying ceremonies on Wreaths Across America Day at Arlington, as well as veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond.

KOKX Studios has made it possible to sponsor a wreath to be placed on a veteran’s grave in the Keokuk National Cemetery for many years. DeJong-Greaves Celebration of Life Centers later joined their efforts to be a sponsorship location for a veteran’s grave located in any local cemetery. Both facilities will continue their participation this year.

The importance of honoring each fallen serviceman/woman as an individual is stressed. The national wreath laying service will be held on Saturday, December 12, which was unanimously voted by the US Congress as “Wreaths Across America™ Day”. Everyone is welcome to attend the local service held at Keokuk National Cemetery on December 12th at 11:00 AM. By offering sponsorships to the public, Wreaths Across America hopes that one day every veteran’s resting place will be adorned with a wreath for the holiday season.

You may honor a veteran buried at any local cemetery by sponsoring a $15 Wreath to adorn their grave. Orders may be placed at DeJong-Greaves Celebration of Life Centers business office at 917 Blondeau Street in Keokuk. Additional wreaths for veterans buried in Keokuk National Cemetery may be ordered through KOKX by submitting payment at KSB Bank to Wreaths Across America, and bringing the receipt to KOKX offices at 108 Washington in Keokuk to complete the order.

You can click here  to download a printable version of the handout.

Orders may be placed now through 4:00 PM on Friday, November 27th


End of Year Programs 2014

End of Year Programs 2014

With the holiday season upon us, once again comes the opportunity to participate in several programs we organize as the year comes to a close. Some of them celebrate and honor veterans and soldiers, and our annual holiday memorial program aims to help give those who have suffered a loss the chance to learn to cope with grief during the holidays.

For the last two years in celebration of Veterans Day in November, we have sponsored the program “Sweaters for Veterans”. Due to some Veteran’s homes and hospitals no longer being able to accept used clothing, we have expanded and modified the program to gather a wider variety of items needed by veterans. Personal hygiene items such as shampoo, deodorant and body wash, puzzle books, snack items, coffee, postage stamps and long distance calling cards are just a few examples of items needed by veterans living in veteran’s homes and visiting veteran’s hospitals and care centers. Throughout the month of November, we will be collecting items to deliver to VA hospitals, VA homes and veterans service organizations in time for the holidays. Donations may be brought to DeJong-Greaves Celebration of Life Centers business office at 917 Blondeau Street in Keokuk. A complete list of suggested items often needed is available at the office or via our website (www.dejongsfuneralhome.com). Everyone in the community is invited to support our veterans by donating.

A program we are proud to once again be part of is Wreaths Across America as we will again be an official sponsorship location. KOKX Studios has made it possible to sponsor a wreath to be placed on a veteran’s grave in the Keokuk National Cemetery for many years. We later joined their efforts to be a sponsorship location for a veteran’s grave located in any local cemetery. Both facilities are continuing their participation this year.

The importance of honoring each fallen serviceman/woman as an individual is stressed. The national wreath laying service will be held on Saturday, December 13, which was unanimously voted by the US Congress as “Wreaths Across America™ Day”. Everyone is welcome to attend the local service held at Keokuk National Cemetery on December 13th at 11:00 AM. By offering sponsorships to the public, Wreaths Across America hopes that one day every veteran’s resting place will be adorned with a wreath for the holiday season.

Wreaths Across America Ceremony, December 2012, Keokuk National Ceremony

You may honor a veteran buried at any local cemetery by sponsoring a $15 Wreath to adorn their grave. Orders may be placed at our business office. Additional wreaths for veterans buried in Keokuk National Cemetery may be ordered through KOKX by submitting payment at KSB Bank to Wreaths Across America, and bringing the receipt to KOKX offices at 108 Washington in Keokuk to complete the order. Orders may be placed now through Monday, November 24th .

Even if you are not able to sponsor a wreath, we encourage everyone to join us at the wreath laying ceremony on December 13th to help us honor our fallen veterans.

On Sunday, December 14, 2014, we will host our annual holiday program “Holiday Remembrances: A Celebration of Love”. This program is designed to help those who have lost someone cope during the holiday season and remember their loved ones in a meaningful way.

Included in the program will be a reading of the names of the loved ones whose families our funeral home has had the privilege of serving in the past year. Anyone may request additional names to be included in the remembrance service.

As always, this program is open to the public and everyone is welcome to attend. We hope to provide those that have lost someone they love some comfort and strength during the holiday season. We know the profound grief that can be felt after someone dies and how it can be particularly difficult at Christmas time and therefore strive to provide a sincere ceremony that acknowledges the loss and honors your loved ones.

The program will be held at our 917 Blondeau Street location at 2:00 PM.

Additionally, we are working to set up a new program that will help soldiers serving overseas and their families back home this December. We hope to have plans finalized and more information to give you soon.

If you have any questions or would like additional information on any of our upcoming programs, or have a lost loved one you would like to have included in our Holiday Remembrance program, please let us know.

DeJong-Greaves Celebration of Life Centers

Dirk and Terry DeJong, Evan Printy, Sonia Richardson and Laura DeJong

 

 

 

 


Reflecting on 70 Years in Business

Reflecting on 70 Years in Business

(Above: Dirk and Terry in front of the funeral home at 917 Blondeau Street.)

This August marked 70 years of the DeJong family owning and operating their business in Keokuk, a milestone they are very proud of.

DeJong’s Funeral home in the 1950s

Presently owned by Dirk and Theresa (Terry) DeJong the business was started by Dirk’s parents, G. William and Dorothy DeJong who bought the Pearson Funeral Home in 1944 on 917 Blondeau Street and established DeJong’s Funeral Home. Bill DeJong, born and raised in Keokuk, was a Licensed Funeral Director for over 50 years.

Newspaper clipping announcing Bill and Dorothy’s purchase of Pearson Funeral Home which they would soon establish as DeJong’s Funeral Home. DeJong’s Funeral home in the 1950s

After graduating from Keokuk Senior High in 1935, Bill attended and graduated from both Iowa Weslyn College in Mt. Pleasant and the College of Mortuary Science in St. Louis, MO. After graduating in 1941, he returned to Keokuk and became an assistant at Pearson Funeral Home where he worked for three years until he took ownership in August of 1944. He and his wife, Dorothy, operated the funeral home and raised their family of three children in the home. Bill was a full-time funeral director and operator of the funeral home until 1991 when he became disabled by an accident which eventually claimed his life in 1993. Dorothy died in March 2005.

From the time of his birth, Dirk lived in the funeral home building with his family and was raised in the family business, helping with the work at the funeral home in many ways. He helped set up tents, carry and drive flowers, and whatever else he was asked to do. During the time the funeral homes also acted as ambulance services for the community, Dirk was on hand many times to assist in emergencies, including the explosion at the Keokuk Armory in 1965.

 

Dirk graduated from Keokuk High School in 1967 and later from SCC. Following his marriage to Theresa Neff in 1972, he attended Dallas Institute of Mortuary Science. Following his graduation, he served an internship at Westover Funeral Home in Des Moines, Iowa. In 1975, he and Theresa returned to Keokuk to join the family firm and became integral parts of the funeral business. He again worked along-side his father and learned to appreciate Bill’s knowledge and experience as a funeral director.

Dirk receiving his diploma during his graduation from Dallas Institute of Mortuary Science in 1975.

After completing a degree in Mortuary Science and a professional internship in 1998, Terry also became a licensed funeral director. Born in Hancock County, Illinois, Terry moved with her parents, Estel and Cecel Neff, to Keokuk in 1958. She attended Keokuk Public Schools, graduating in 1969. She attended SCC and the University of Iowa. Terry was a stay-at-home mother with their four daughters until 1983. She then began helping and doing part-time work at the funeral home. Becoming more and more active and interested in the work, she attended both SCC and Carl Sandburg College, and received her degree in Mortuary Science in 1997.

Terry’s graduation from Carl Sandburg College in 1997 where she earned her degree in Mortuary Science.

Dirk and Terry have owned the business since 1995, purchasing the funeral home when they assumed the leadership role following Bill’s accident. They continue to carry on the tradition taught to Dirk by his parents in his years growing up in the funeral home. His parents always tried to do their best to help people both in the business and in the community through service and contributing where they could. They taught him to do the same and he has tried to carry on their work the best he can.

Terry wasn’t raised in the funeral home like Dirk, but also learned a lot about what the job means from working with Bill and Dorothy. She saw how much help and support they could be to families during a time of profound grief and it has always been important to the both of them to make that the first priority. These are values they hold dear and have tried to pass along to their own children.

Dirk and Terry are both licensed in Iowa and Illinois and Dirk is also licensed in Missouri. As full-time owners and funeral directors, Dirk and Terry are actively involved in all activities of the funeral home.

The original business building at 917 Blondeau Street was renovated in the fall of 1960 by combining the existing building with the neighboring home at 923 Blondeau Street, more than doubling the space to accommodate larger services and allow a more modern approach to funerals.

The original two buildings (917 & 923 Blondeau) as construction began and the combined building during construction.

In January of 2011, DeJong’s Funeral Home purchased Greaves Mortuary to create the DeJong-Greaves Celebration of Life Centers. This allowed for the DeJongs to once again usher in modern approaches to the industry. As traditions and styles of funerals are changing, the DeJongs wish to make more options available to families. Celebration of life is not just the name change to the business but also what more and more families wish for as a farewell to loved ones. There are many families who find a lot of comfort in a traditional funeral service. However there are a growing number of families that want something different. So we can have services at their favorite fishing spot, or in their garden they took so much pride in. We can provide special services such as dove or butterfly releases. The options are as endless as the personalities of the individuals we are honoring.

 

Bob and Susie Kraus, former owners of Greaves Mortuary with Terry and Dirk DeJong as they announce their purchase of the business and the merging of these two historic family funeral homes.

In additional efforts to embrace this change, Dirk and Theresa attended training and became Certified Funeral Celebrants in 2009 which allows them to provide personalized memorial services to individuals and families who either wish for something non-traditional or non-denominational.

In May of this year, Dirk was honored for both 40 years dedication to funeral services and for three years of service as district 3 governor at the 134th annual Iowa Funeral Directors Association Convention in Ames, Iowa.

 


January, 2014

January, 2014

Thanks to donations from people throughout the community, in 2013, we were able to distribute almost 100 sweaters to veterans and ship 280 pounds worth of care packages to soldiers serving overseas. It was our second year of sponsoring both Sweaters for Veterans and Stockings for Soldiers, and we were once again humbled by how much the community pulled together and so many gave what they could to support our servicemen and women of both yesterday and today.

Last year we also sponsored our first annual Operation Valentine, which we are proud to continue this year.

Operation Valentine serves as a unique morale boost to soldiers serving overseas, to those rehabilitating in hospitals, and as a warm hello to veteran’s living in facilities across the nation. Individuals, students, school and church groups and other organizations, simply write or make a Valentine card that we will then distribute to Veteran’s homes and military hospitals across the country, and send to servicemen and women across the globe. It’s just a simple message that lets them know once again, that their service is appreciated and not forgotten. It is an especially great program to involve children in by providing a great opportunity to talk with them about some of the sacrifices made for our country and to teach them how important it is to give back whenever we can.

Since they are not part of care packages, cards for this program cannot include food or candy, and because some will be distributed in hospitals and veteran’s homes, they also cannot include glitter since it can work its way into bandages and bedding. But there are many fun ways to personalize a handmade card that will brighten their day and send a meaningful message.

Valentine cards may be dropped off at our business office at 917 Blondeau Street now thru January 31st between 9am and 5pm. We will then see that the greetings are sent in time for Valentine’s Day.

In addition to continuing these and other of our favorite programs last year, such as our third annual Memorial Day Balloon Release, we also began two new traditions to honor our loved ones and our community.

 

Memorial Day Balloon Release, Keokuk National Cemetery, May 26th, 2013

In June, we held a Memorial Butterfly Release at Rand Park. Though the weather was not on our side, many people joined us for a special service focusing on transforming grief of what has been lost into hope for what is yet to come followed by the release of live butterflies.

Butterfly Release, Rand Park, June 23, 2013

In October, as part of efforts to replace dead and dying trees in the area, we sponsored the planting of a Jane Magnolia tree near the Rand Park pond and held a dedication service for it on October 20. It was approximated earlier in the year that there are 60 trees in Rand Park alone that are dead or dying. Having been able to appreciate trees in Rand Park while we have lived in Keokuk, practically our whole lives we wanted to be part of ensuring that future generations can do the same. So we decide to use it as an opportunity to say thank you to all the families who have placed their trust in us over the years by dedicating the tree in honor of them and their loss.

Terry & Dirk DeJong, Rand Park tree dedication, October 20, 2013

We would like to once again thank everyone who contributed to and participated in these programs with us last year. We look forward to continuing these traditions in 2014.


November Programs and Announcements

November Programs and Announcements

In commemoration of Veteran’s Day, this Monday, November 11, 2013, we have been holding our second annual Sweaters for Veterans program. Community members are asked to donate new or gently used sweaters and gloves that will then be distributed to veterans to help keep them warm in the winter months. Last year we were able to collect dozens of sweaters, and this year we may double last year’s efforts.  If you or anyone you know would like to donate items, we will be continuing to collect through Veterans Day, and will then distribute the items to local veteran’s facilities. Simply bring the items by our business office and we will take it from there!

During this season, we hold two additional programs with veterans and soldiers in mind.

First, we are an official sponsorship location for Wreaths Across America. It began as The Arlington Wreath project started by Morrill Worcester in 1992 with the donation and laying of 5000 Christmas wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery. KOKX Studios has made it possible to sponsor a wreath to be placed on a veteran’s grave in the Keokuk National Cemetery for several years. Last year we joined their efforts to be a sponsorship location for a veteran’s grave located in any local cemetery. You may honor your hero, buried at any local cemetery by sponsoring a $15 Wreath to adorn their grave. Now through November 29th please stop in and order a wreath for your hero at our business office.

We will also be holding our second annual Stockings for Soldiers campaign in the spirit of sending our troops a little taste of home for the holidays. In December of 2012, the community donated two-hundred and twenty pound of goods including 69 stockings to be shipped to soldiers serving overseas in time for the holidays. From now through November 27th stop by our business and pick-up a free stocking to take home and stuff.  Then simply bring the stocking(s) back by Monday, December 2nd and will ship them, at our expense, to troops abroad in time for Christmas. Along with the free stocking you will receive a list of recommended items that are often needed or requested by soldiers serving overseas. We are also collecting addresses of soldiers serving overseas to ship the packages to. Anyone with address information of a deployed service man or woman, please let us know so that we may add them to our list of recipients.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 319-524-2340 or 800-699-2340.

Our business offices are located at 917 Blondeau St. in Keokuk. 

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Steve Cirrinna on KOKX

Steve Cirrinna, Lee County Emergency Management Co-Ordinator, wil be Suzy G’s guest this week (October 21) on “Just for the Health of It.” The program airs on Friday mornings at 9:00 AM on KOKX AM radio and we are proud to be one of the sponsors.

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KOKX “Just for the Health of It”

KOKX AM radio airs a show named “Just for the Health of It” on Friday mornings at 9:00 am. We have become a sponsor because we believe it’s important that everyone have information about health issues. Suzy G does the program live. Her guest this week October 14th will be Alissa Cohen, author of the book Raw Food for Everyone. Tune in and see what Alissa has to say.

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