Reverend John Van Lierop, Sr. turned 100 on October 27, 2021. A small celebration organized by his son at The Kenney, where John he has lived for the past seven years. Rev. Van Lierop has a long connection with the Kenney, dating back to when he moved to West Seattle with his family in 1968. At that time, he was called to be on the ministerial staff at the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Seattle. This church had strong ties with the Kenney since Samuel and Jessie Kenney, founders of the Kenney, were members of that church. At the time, Rev. Van Lierop would on occasion preach at the Sunday afternoon services at The Kenney for residents. Also, he would regularly call members of the church who were residing at The Kenney, such as the late Bill Barnett and his wife, Grace.
In 1986, John retired as a Presbyterian minister at the Community Presbyterian Church in Sandy, Oregon after 42 years of ministry, serving 7 churches. Rev. Van Lierop, with his wife, Mary, moved back to West Seattle to live with his grown children. Shortly after his return to West Seattle, he was offered the Chaplaincy position of The Kenney in 1987, replacing Rev. Forsythe, who had just recently retired. Rev. Van Lierop’s chaplain duties included conducting two weekly devotional services for the residents, as well as held a weekly Bible Study for the Independent/Assisted Living residents. He also would make weekly visits to individuals whenever they or The Kenney staff requested it. Rev. Van Lierop retired as Chaplain in 2004, having served there for 17 years. When he returned as a resident in 2014, a number of The Kenney staff remembered him fondly from his Chaplain years.
In addition to his years of ministry, Rev. John Van Lierop has had a number of hobbies. His first and foremost was his extensive book collection. He loved to collect used books, mainly theological, historical, poetry and art in addition to the well-known classics. At one time he had over 20,000 books, enough to run a small book store.
In John’s spare time and on his days off, he loved to hike with his son, John Jr. When living in Portland, Oregon they hiked the many mountains of the Columbia George. Rev. Van Lierop climbed Mt. Hood, the highest peak in Oregon, twice, once in 1965 with his son. When the Van Lierop family lived in Seattle, he hiked the trails of Snoqualmie, Stevens Passes in addition to mountain trails around Mt. Ranier.
Rev. Van Lierop grew up in Ghent, Belgium, known for chocolate, candy and pastries. It was there that he developed his love for candy and desserts. Well-known chocolate brands from the area were Godiva and Guylian, just to name a few. Two of John’s favorite pastries were the Neapolitan as well as a Vanilla Slice. He passed his love for these sweets on to his family.
Upon Rev. Van Lierop’s retirement in the mid 80’s he traveled extensively with his wife and son for the next 15 years until his wife, Mary became ill. Favorites on his list of places were the Holy Lands, Scandinavian Countries, Dales of England and Ireland. In America, Rev. Van Lierop toured Alaska and Hawaii, in addition to all the major National Parks of the West.
John’s son, John Jr., and daughter, Mary Aden, credit their father for certain habits that they have taken on as adults. The Dutch are known for their frugality and Rev. Van Lierop was no exception. At the time, growing up, his children thought he was too tight with his money but now appreciate him for that for they both are the same way in how they handle their money.
A piece of advice that John gave his children, which has come in handy in various situations is, “The less said the better”. They have both learned that saying too much can get you into more trouble at times. As the saying goes, “Don’t put your foot in your mouth”.
Lastly, John Jr. appreciates all the support that his father gave him as an aspiring piano student and organist. Rev. Van Lierop, with his busy schedule, made a point to attend all his son’s piano recitals in addition to visiting all the churches where John Jr. was the organist. When their Gatewood house was purchased in 1968, Rev. John Van Lierop was aware of his son’s piano teaching situation, so he picked this home since it had a separate outside entrance to the room that was to become the teaching studio.
The above text was written by John Van Lierop’s son, John Jr.