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John Reenstra Sr.

6/18/2017



John E. Reenstra, Sr., age 82 of Wayne, died peacefully on Sunday, June 18, 2017. He had been an engineer with Singer-Kearfott for many years.

Raised in Clifton, John graduated from Clifton High School. He was a brilliant kid, but his family didn’t have the means to send him to college. Fortunately, a friend of the family advocated for John and he was given an opportunity to attend Syracuse University. He poured himself into his studies and was able to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, accomplishing this in just three and a half years. It’s only fair to note that his wife, Alice (nee Fields), whom he married during his junior year at Syracuse, provided him with invaluable support and she was responsible for typing most of his papers during his senior year there! Upon graduating, John took a job with ITT in Nutley, NJ and then, shortly thereafter, earned his Professional Engineer license. He then joined Singer-Kearfott where he stayed for the duration of his employment. At Singer-Kearfott, John was responsible for the development of navigation systems that were implemented on the Cassini Spacecraft, Skylab, the space shuttles, and many other satellites that are still in service today. One of the highlights of his career was during the Apollo 13 mission when Mission Control called John at home for direct assistance with restarting the navigational systems on board the Apollo that would ultimately bring the astronauts safely back to earth.

John was always thinking and at home he designed and built many of his own systems to simplify and improve their lives. He also had a bit of a mischievous side to him, and when bees had colonized in the eave of his house, he taught his sons how to eradicate them using explosives! He carefully inserted a large firecracker, called an “ash can”, up in the eave of the house, lit the fuse, and they all ran away. When the dust settled, there was a swarm of unhappy bees, and the gutter had been blown off the side of the house! Alice let her disapproval be known with no uncertainty. John was also passionate about racing his pigeons. He had upwards of 120 birds at the height of his racing days, and “SJ”, short for “Super Jock”, was his fastest bird ever. John was a founding member of the Wayne Pigeon Flyers Club in 1967 and served as the club secretary. He was also a member of the Lakeland Pigeon Flyers Club. John developed some unique and cunning strategies for racing, including the creation of a lighting system in his home that encouraged the birds to have their chicks a few months earlier than usual, meaning that his birds would be slightly more mature, and stronger flyers than the competition. At the time, there were no rules regarding the age of the birds as there are today.

John had his “Achilles heel”, which was ice cream! He enjoyed Slurpees and milk shakes, but ice cream was his favorite. He was known to jump at the sound of the ice cream truck approaching the neighborhood, and he’s chased more than one ice cream vendor down the beach at the Jersey Shore. He would often get two Fudgsicles, because one was never enough!

John met his wife Alice on a blind date while they were still in high school. They married on June 30, 1956 and waited until he finished college before enjoying their honeymoon to Henderson Harbor, near Alexandria Bay on Lake Ontario. Together, they loved to go camping and had taken many trips over the years, including a circuit down around Florida visiting various areas and friends along the way. They celebrated forty eight years of marriage together before Alice passed away in 2004, which understandably left John heartbroken.

John is survived by his four children; Maryalice Reenstra of Lincoln Park, John Reenstra, Jr. and his wife Marie of Pequannock, Richard Reenstra and his wife Heather of Toms River, NJ, and William Reenstra and his wife Rose of Sparta, four grandchildren; John Reenstra, III of Wayne, Kelsey Reenstra of Pequannock, James Reenstra and his wife Jennifer of Manahawkin, and Kathryn Reenstra of Toms River, one great-grandchild; Lucas Reenstra of Toms River, and a sister; Jeanne Bartelt and her husband Howard of Whiting, NJ. He was predeceased by his wife Alice in 2004, and by his three brothers; Robert, Howard, and Arthur.

Friends may visit with the family at the Vander May Wayne Colonial Funeral Home, 567 Ratzer Road, Wayne, on Sunday, June 25, 2017 from 2-6 PM. Funeral Services will be held at 10 AM on Monday, June 26, 2017 at the funeral home, then to the First Reformed Church Cemetery, Pompton Plains, NJ for burial.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Special Olympics of New Jersey via www.sonj.org, or to Mary Help of Christians Academy, 659 Belmont Ave., North Haledon, NJ 07508.

Guest Book

6/20/2017

Dear John - I am so sorry to hear of your Dad's passing. I truly enjoyed reading about him. He's a remarkable, intelligent and fun-loving person who will surely be missed. He must have been an awesome person too: he LOVED ice-cream! Sending my condolences to you and your family. So sorry for your family's great loss. - Denise Anderson

Denise Anderson

6/20/2017

Maryalice, John, Richard, Billy and families, I am so sorry to hear of Dads passing. I spent alot of time at yoir house and knew your dad well! He evwn let me borrow a few pigeons for a science project. Then I got to let them go out the science window at Anthony Wayne and they flew home. It was very cool! He was a very smart and unique person You are all in my prayers this week. Love and Sympathy Liz & Paul Bonner

Liz McKay Bonner

6/20/2017

Your entire family is in my thoughts John, Uncle Rick, Uncle Bill, and Aunt Maryalice. Miss you all dearly and sending virtual hugs during this difficult time. Love- Jayne

Jayne Ludwig

6/21/2017

What a great tribute to your Dad. Our condolences, prayers and hugs to you all. Fred & Nancy

Fred & Nancy McMahon

6/21/2017

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

John & Michele Zaccardi

6/21/2017

John and Bill, My condolences. prayers and thoughts for you and your family as you move through this part of your journey. Peace, Matthew

Matthew Roseett

6/21/2017

John - Please accept my deepest condolences on the passing of your dad. You and your family are in my thoughts and I will pray for you all during this difficult time.

Nadine Thompson

6/21/2017

So sorry your family is having this stress at this time. We enjoyed reading about his adventuresome life. He lead a exciting never dull one, and a rich one. Memories are awesome. Our heart and prayers are with you at this time. Love always, Kathy and Lenny

Kathleen Powers & Leonard Powers

6/21/2017

Kathy & I send our deepest condolences.

Kathy & Mark Jurewicz

6/26/2017

Rich, My friend Sue (who works with your wife's friend Terry)told be of your father's passing. Although I never met him, I think I would have enjoyed knowing him. Please accept my condolences. Maureen Mullen Theese, Cook College, class of 1982

Maureen Mullen Theese


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