Joor Bol, 91, passed away on Christmas Day, 2021, in Santa Cruz County from a sudden heart attack. On his last full day of life, Christmas Eve, he played all-terrain bocce ball in Nisene Marks and enjoyed a special meal and festivities with his extended family.
He was in the prime of his senior life, enjoying events with family and friends, playing bridge biweekly at the senior center, writing and rewriting his autobiography, attempting to slim down its 700-plus pages, reading, listening to music, meditating daily, all the while feeling that every day was a blessing to be enjoyed and appreciated.
Born in the Netherlands in 1930, he and his family immigrated to the U.S. in 1936, settling in rural Palo Alto where his father had taken a position at Stanford University. Joor loved recounting stories from his youth and the many escapades he and his 5 brothers enjoyed from bailing hay to horseback riding to folk dancing at his best friend’s ranch. Although an immigrant, he adopted a fierce love for western America, and saw himself as something of a cowboy. He loved a good campfire, hooting and hollering while playing his guitar, and singing old westerns late into the night, even into his last years. He believed in the tradition of oral history through song.
Joor was a humanities teacher at Pioneer High for 30 years. He served honorably in Korea and remained true to his humanitarianism throughout. He was altruistic and generous. A true progressive and a stubborn Dutchman. He was passionately dedicated to civil rights and marched in the ‘60s and continued supporting various movements throughout his lifetime. Joor loved talking about and reading history – a true academic. His quest for knowledge and truth knew no bounds.
He loved adventures and once sailed to Hawaii on a 27-foot sailboat. Another time he hitched a ride with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus on his way home from the University of Montana where he was majoring in English. And more recently, he drove cross country with one of his granddaughters after his beloved wife of 62 years had passed away.
He defied the stereotype of the curmudgeonly old man in every way. Slow to anger, and quick to laugh. He truly set the example in humility and grace to all those who knew him.
He will be remembered for his strength of character, sense of humor, wisdom, deep spirituality, strong adherence to justice, artistic and creative nature, amazing blue eyes that sparkled as he laughed (which he did often), his huge bear hugs, and ever present love.
Joor is survived by his 4 children and their spouses, 9 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren (2 on the way), a brother, and his bobtailed cat.