Dina Burgstede, 92, of Delavan, passed away peacefully on Dec. 15, 2017 at Lakeland Health Care Center.

She was born on May 20, 1925, in Heerlen, The Netherlands, to Jan and Boukje Jeninga. Dina grew up in Heerlen, which is very close to the Germany border, with her eight brothers, Ate, Paul, Sjoerd, Adres, John, George, Fred and Ted; and one sister, Metsie. Dina often stated how much she loved being part of a large family. She would often joke that no one at school would give her a hard time because she had so many brothers.

Dina was most interested in fashion and sewing. She went to school and learned to be a seamstress, which turned into a lifelong passion. Dina could sew just about anything from wedding dresses to curtains, all with an exceptional eye for detail.

This was a skill that came in handy during World War II when fabric was scarce and her large family needed clothing. Dina would ingeniously take apart her brother’s worn suits, turn them inside out and create new suits. She never needed a store pattern; she would often make her own. Being a teenager during war time must have been difficult, and the fact that several of her family members worked for the underground and the family often harbored defecting German soldiers, young Jewish children and home-sick Americans alike, only added to the stress. Dina often talked about her mother’s courage to do these things, since the entire family would likely have been executed by the Germans if they found out.

After the war, Dina met her future husband, Cornelis “Casey” Burgstede. The two saw each other for the first time on a busy intersection in Amsterdam where Casey was a police officer directing traffic. Dina was a young woman looking for directions to a church gathering involving more than 3,000 women. Casey always said that he saw that face – face in a thousand – and he knew she was the one. They were married on July 29, 1948, and lived in a flat in Amsterdam, were they had their first son, Gilbert.

One day a letter arrived in the mail – the government had decided to give the opportunity to Dina and Casey to immigrate to America. What to do? Dina had placed the request with the government with her mother’s support but never thought it would happen and never had told Casey. The decision was agonizing and Casey described it as, “In the morning, we were definitely leaving; in the afternoon, we were not sure; by the evening, we were definitely not going.” Eventually the decision was made to go because Dina’s only sister, who had already immigrated to America, was pregnant and needed help to carry her baby to term.

Everything they owned was sold or packed up in trunks. Casey, Dina and Gilbert took to the ocean on a ship named “The New Amsterdam.” All the while Dina was pregnant with her second son, John. Dina spent most of the seven-day trip in her cabin feeling ill. The weather was rough, and the ship swayed back and forth, much to the joy of Gilbert and the other young masters on board, who sat on their suitcases and slid from one side to the other. They arrived in Hoboken, N. J., on Nov. 11, 1952, and concluded their journey on Dina’s sister’s 80-acre farm in Elkhorn. Over the next few years, Dina and Casey sponsored nearly her entire family to immigrate to America including her mother. Most the family settled in Delavan and were members of the Christian Reformed Church, although Dina later became a member of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church.

Dina worked at Ajay for a short period of time and learned she was pregnant with her third child, Diana. She also worked for many years at Jeninga Bros. Wire Products, which was founded by her brothers, George and John Jeninga. She lived out the majority of her years at her home on South Second Street across from Delbrook Golf Course, and she and her husband would go to St. James City, Fla., every winter.

Dina was the real deal – a woman who often would state that she was not very strong, but, undeniably she was strong in faith and love. She was one of the most kind and generous women you would ever have the pleasure to meet.

She will be greatly missed by her family. She is survived by one brother, John Jeninga; her three children, Gilbert Burgstede (Janis DeLuca), John (Karen Jakabowski) and Diana Burgstede; six grandchildren, Becky (Ryan Kligora), Amy Burgstede, Adam Burgstede (Mia Calhan), Annie Burgstede, Casey Medema and Julia Medema; and six great grandchildren, Dylan, Tyler, Maribel, Maya, Lars and Mette.

Funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 416 W. Geneva St., in Delavan with the Rev. Robert P. Rickman officiating. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until the time of the service on Tuesday at the church. Burial will take place at Spring Grove Cemetery in Delavan.

Monroe Funeral Home in Delavan is assisting the family.


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