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Th.J.A. Pardoen and C.J.M. Koopman

Theodorus Johannes Adrianus Pardoen and Catharina Johanna Maria Koopman

Theodorus Johannes Adrianus Pardoen and Catharina Johanna Maria Koopman

Theodorus Johannes Adrianus (Theo) Pardoen, son of Theodorus Joannes Gerardus Pardoen and his first wife Aaltje Sophia van der Hoogt, was born on 22 January 1881 in Soest. Theo was the third child of this couple, and had the same name as his elder brother, who died as an infant. Theo’s father was police constable, and since his marriage in 1877 he had lived and worked in The Hague, Delft, Schiedam, Medemblik and Houten, and now the family lived in Soest – six towns and cities in less than four years. They did not stay long in Soest either: on 15 June 1881 they moved to Bodegraven. On 12 April 1884 they moved from Bodegraven to Hillegom, where they would finally settle.

I do not know much about the first years of Theo’s life. His mother died in 1887, just days before Theo’s sixth birthday, leaving behind four small children. His father remarried only four months later. Theo grew up in Hillegom, as part of a large family – his three sisters, and nine siblings from his father’s second marriage. As his father was a constable, the family was probably well-known in the small town Hillegom.

It is unclear when his military career started, but in 1905 he was a military engineer, quartered in Wormerveer, and for the rest of his life he worked for the military.

Catharina Johanna Maria (Cato) Koopman, daughter of Pieter Johannes Koopman and Catharina Johanna Maria Foppen, was born 14 September 1886 in Utrecht, 7th of eight children that survived infancy. Her father was sergeant-major at the military engineers. Cato spent her early childhood in Utrecht, but before the end of the century the family moved to Woudrichem, where her father became lock-keeper. This was a military function, as the lock was part of the famous Hollandse Waterlinie (Dutch Water Line).

From time to time, Cato’s father invited young soldiers from the nearby Gorinchem barracks to spend a Sunday afternoon at the Koopman home, to offer them a moment of home-life while they were living in barracks, often far away from their homes and families. One of these soldiers was Theo Pardoen. It is not entirely clear yet when that happened, or when the engagement of Theo and Cato took place. The first documentary proof of a Pardoen-Koopman connection is a postcard Theo and Cato sent in 1908, but I suspect Theo had been a family friend of the Koopmans for several years before that, and he had probably courted Cato for a long time by then. In 1910, Theo is a witness at the wedding of one of Cato’s siblings, another proof of Theo’s close ties with the Koopman family. The courting time was long, and it was only in 1913 that Theo and Cato finally married.

The wedding took place on 27 February 1913 in Hillegom. Theo was encamped in Utrecht at the time, and, interestingly, Cato is listed as living in Hillegom. I do not know why Cato lived in the town of her parents-in-law, and I have still to find out her address in Hillegom (did she live with the Pardoen family?). After the wedding, Theo and Cato lived in Utrecht for several years. Their children were born there: First, stillborn twins in 1913, then a son (Theodorus Joannes Gerardus Adrianus, or Theo, named after his father and his paternal grandfather – he is the infant on the photo) on 5 November 1914, and finally a daughter (Catharina Johanna Maria, or To, named after her mother and maternal grandmother), on 28 January 1917.

In the meantime, the first world war started. The Netherlands were never involved in this war, but there was a general mobilization announced, and Theo, as a military, was of course called up, and was often away from home.

A long and happy marriage was not alotted to Theo and Cato. The first signs of Theo’s failing health were visible in the early 1920s, and it was soon clear Theo suffered from tuberculosis. Theo often stayed in the sanatorium Sonnevanck in Harderwijk.

Because of Theo’s job, the family often moved: they lived in Rijssenburg (1923-1924), Twello (1924-1925), Utrecht (1926-1927), and Groesbeek (from 1927). In Groesbeek, Theo resigned because of health reasons. He died, aged 49, of tuberculosis on 21 July 1930 in Groesbeek.

Cato and the children moved back to Utrecht in 1931. Cato received a small pension, and from at least November 1931, her then 16 years old son Theo worked as a clerk, supplementing the family income.

After Theo married, in 1940, Cato lived quietly with her daughter To. There is not much to tell about her widow years. Cato and To were members of the Dutch Reformed church and went to church every Sunday. They were also members of the Dutch Reformed abstainers movement NCGOV, but as far as I know she did not play an active role in this organization. Cato lived to see her grandchildren grow up and witnessed the marriage of the eldest two.

On 24 January 1965 she passed away in Utrecht, 78 years old. Her daughter To still lived with her when she died, unmarried.

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