Gerrit de Jong, Homecoming 2011 founder, was "renaissance man"

by | Sep. 08, 2011

Mormons We Know

Lidja Marianna de Jong knew her young son Gerrit was intellectually gifted and was destined for greater things than working in the family’s fabric store in Amsterdam. She was a praying woman and entreated the Lord for years about what to do with her brilliant son.

When their store burned down one night in 1906, she accepted that as her answer: they weren’t going to rebuild. They were going to America, headed to Salt Lake City to see her sister Marie, the only person they knew in the United States.

Gerrit de Jong, Jr. blossomed as new opportunities arose, perfecting his music, language, artistic and academic skills. In time he earned degrees in three languages and studied at universities in five foreign countries. He became the first dean of Brigham Young University’s College of Fine Arts and simultaneously taught a full load as a professor of modern languages. When the Harris Fine Arts Center was built in 1965, the concert hall was named after him, and the building was dedicated with his grand oratorio, “We Bring Thee Offering,” sung by 625 singers on the de Jong Concert Hall stage.

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