Obituary: Leo Jacob van Dijk

January 19, 2023

February 7, 1933 – January 13, 2023

Dr. Leo Jacob van Dijk, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend, veterinarian and longtime contributor and volunteer in the Ashland, Oregon, community, passed away peacefully at home on January 13, 2023, with his beloved wife of 65 years, Marianne, by his side. He was 89 years young and just weeks shy of his 90th birthday.

Leo was born in The Hague, the Netherlands, the youngest son of Leo J. van Dijk Sr. and Maria “Riet” Panhuijsen. Leo emigrated with the family to the United States in 1942, settling outside of New York City.

Leo graduated from New York’s Mamaroneck High School and went on to study veterinary medicine at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. At Cornell, Leo met his beloved life-partner Marianne. They married in November of 1957, moved to Oregon in 1959, and their love grew into a lifelong partnership committed in all arenas of life; from the family business to church to community service, and especially to the rearing of their eight daughters.

In all his pursuits, Leo brought an ethic of excellence, and he worked where he found meaning. He practiced a “James Herriot” style of country veterinary medicine, and he particularly loved working with ranchers, dairy men, cattle persons and farmers.

Leo was immersed in local and state veterinary associations and involved in the establishment of the Veterinary Medicine Program at Oregon State University. Locally, he served the Rogue Valley veterinary community in various capacities, including as president of the Rogue Veterinary Medical Association before moving on to become president of the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Leo Jacob van Dijk at work.

Leo and Marianne were deeply committed to Ashland, accumulating a large circle of friends who shared their civic commitment and vision for building up the community and making it a desirable place to live. Leo served on Our Lady of the Mountain’s parish council and was actively involved with the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, Ashland Lions Club, the Rogue Valley Veterinary Association, the Guanajuato Amigo Club, and the Rogue Valley Master’s Swim Team. Leo was a “red coat” volunteer usher with the Oregon Shakespearean Festival, a docent at the Northwest Natural History Museum, and a contributing member of the Elks Club. Leo was a friend to all.

Leo is survived by Marianne (Oehrlein) and their eight daughters: Kathryn Miller (Mike Davis), Cindy van Dijk (Philip King), Julie Bell (Mike Hulsey), Elizabeth Lyons (Randy), Margaret van Dijk (Steve Moore), Johanna Scholer (Scott), Christine Bruns (Bart), and Carrie van Dijk. They have 16 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Those he has left behind, including extended family and friends, will miss him dearly but are grateful to have their “Leo” stories to keep him forever living on in fond memories.

A mass will be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Medford at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 17. A celebration of life will follow the mass at a location to be determined. Education was important to Leo, and in lieu of flowers, the van Dijk family asks donations be made in Leo’s memory to the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University, Southern Oregon University Foundation, or the Ashland Schools Foundation.

Obituaries may be submitted to Ashland.news via our online article submission form, or via email to news@ashland.news, with a photo or two attached if desired. Please be sure to include dates of birth and death, and reference to connections to Ashland/Talent/Southern Oregon. Please allow a few days for posting. There is no charge. Those wishing to make a donation supporting the Ashland.news service may do so here.

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