George J. Barendse, the Mariposa County Superintendent of Schools from 1972 to 1989, passed away on Aug. 8, 2019.
George was born in the Netherlands, went through World War II in occupied Holland, attended and graduated from Harvard University with a degree in physics, became a United States citizen, was a radioman with the United States Air Force, obtained a masters degree in education from University of the Pacific, became a school administrator, with his last job as Mariposa County Superintendent of Schools where he helped many children and teachers during his long career. But of all this, his most important attribute was that he was devoted to his family.
George was born in The Hague, The Netherlands on Jan. 9, 1929 to George and Geraldina Barendse. His father was a Commodore for the Holland America Cruise Line and spent much time away from his family on trips across the Atlantic. His mother was born in Jakarta, Indonesia. The couple met when George’s father was on one of his sea cruises to the Dutch East Indies. George and his mother were very close since his father would be away on his trips commanding cruise ships.
George was approximately 10 years old when World War II broke out in Europe. The entire family suffered greatly under the occupation by Germany of Holland during World War II. His father was away transporting troops and equipment between the United States and Europe. At one point, George’s father was stranded in New York City and could not return to his family because of the invasion of the Nazis. The German occupation, which lasted five years, kept George’s father out of Holland and forced George and his mother, stuck in Holland, to endure the Nazi occupation. These were extremely difficult years for the family.
After the war, at age 17, George came to the United States to attend college at Harvard University. He graduated from Harvard with a degree in physics.
George applied for and obtained his United States citizenship. Thereafter, George wanted to serve his new country. As a result, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. After boot camp, he was stationed at Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento.
Julie Irene Ponte was in nursing school at San Joaquin General hospital, close to Travis AFB. While there, George met Julie and were married on Oct. 24, 1952. George and Julie spent the next 67 years of their life together.
Shortly after they married, they moved to Sacramento where Julie worked at Sutter Memorial Hospital and George attended school at Sacramento State to get his teaching credential. Their daughter, Terri, arrived first, followed soon thereafter by another daughter, Patty.
Soon George finished his education with a masters degree in education from University of the Pacific in Stockton.
In 1956, George embarked in a career in educating children that would last until his retirement.
During the first part of his career, with his promotions, the family was forced to move quite often. His first job required a move to the eastern high Sierra Nevada plains of California to the small town of Bridgeport. He had his first teaching job at the Bridgeport Elementary School. Not only was he a teacher, he was a 4-H leader, coach and mentor to the students. There was lots of snow in the winter, and George enjoyed all of the activities with his family including sledding and skating.
George was always up for outings — picnics up to the Twin Lakes, trips across the border into Nevada to Reno and travels with the 4-H kids.
After four years in Bridgeport, George moved his family to Lodi, Calif., where he accepted a position as assistant superintendent for finance in Lathrop, Calif. The family bought their first home in Lodi and developed many happy memories. The family joined the local Presbyterian Church in Lodi where George served as a deacon.
George’s parents were able to visit from The Hague on several occasions. George was also able to take his family to the Netherlands to visit his parents and share the Dutch culture within his family. These were memorable trips for the family.
Next, the family moved to the northern California town of Redway, in the heart of the Humboldt County redwoods. George worked in Miranda — again as an assistant superintendent of schools. After a year they moved back to Lodi and were able to buy their old home back!
In 1966, George accepted a job offer from the Oakhurst Elementary School as superintendent/principal. As a result, the family moved to Oakhurst. He loved to be around the kids, so he was back to enjoying his first passion.
George and the family would spend days at Bass Lake swimming off the rocks on the south shore beyond the Forks Resort. George purchased a small outboard motorboat which was great for water skiing.
In 1972, George accepted the position of Superintendent of Schools for Mariposa County.
Both the girls were married in the mid 70s and before the end of two years, George had three grandchildren, Coleman George Alberta, Bryan Alberta and Jessica Alberta. They called him Baba, which, after a few years was shortened to “Bob.” That has been his name ever since. George especially enjoyed his grandchildren and his great-grandchild, Mia, and spending time with all of them.
George retired in 1989. George and Julie purchased an RV, a lifelong dream for their retirement years. They took many trips including to Idaho, Montana, Canada and exploring the Pacific Northwest. George and Julie had a favorite song they sang on their trips: “On the Road Again.”
When the grandkids were old enough, it was off to Pismo, southern California and camping on the river at Wawona. George also took the family to Lake Tahoe where he always rented a cabin where his grandkids could enjoy the beach and lake.
George also enjoyed being a ham radio operator and would spend many hours talking to people near and far away. “Triple 5” was his handle. He especially liked talking to Julie’s mother Mabel over the hill in Coarsegold. Her handle was “Cactus Flower.”
George is survived by his wife, Julie; daughters Patty Barendse of Fresno, Terri Cook of Coarsegold and her husband Russell Cook; three grandchildren, Coleman Alberta, Bryan Alberta and his wife Jen Alberta, and Jessica Alberta; and one great-granddaughter, Mia Alberta.
George Barendse will be missed.