Arnoldus Johannes Wilhelmus ’John’ Van Liempt passed away on Thursday August 8, 2002 at home in Sardis, at the age of 58 years. John was born November 5, 1943 in Boxtel, Netherlands. He began taking clarinet lessons when he was four years old, then continued his musical studies at the Tilburg Conservatory of Music and graduated from the Paris Conservatory of Music. He performed tours through Norway, Germany, Italy, France, USA, Belgium, Netherlands and Canada.
John came to Canada in 1967, as a clarinetist for the professional bands of the Canadian Armed Forces. His band career started with the Ordinace Band that was stationed in Soest, Germany. His musical ability was recognized immediately and he was given the task of bandmaster in Trenton, Ontario. From there he moved to Gagetown, New Brunswick to be a member of the RCR Band, where he was promoted to Warrant Officer. When John was promoted to Master Warrant Officer, he moved to Calgary, Alberta, to be the Assistant Conductor of the PPCL1 Band. Always striving for excellence, John attained the rank of Captain in 1984, and was the Director of Music for the Ceremonial Guard Band in Ottawa, Ontario, as well as the Commanding Officer and Director of Music for the Band of the Royal Canadian Regiment in New Brunswick. Throughout his musical career, he was a supervisor of teachers at the Canadian Forces School of Music, church choir director in various communities, Director of the German Evergreen Choir and Director of the Chilliwack Tattoo Choir. He adjudicated music competitions, entertained numerous auditions and continued to teach. John contributed to the community musically wherever he lived by putting on variety shows, musicals and other musical extravaganzas. After coming to Chilliwack in December of 1988, John took a break from music and pursued a career in real estate, but it was soon evident that his heart was not in it. At the urging of many, he returned to his gift of music and painstakingly developed the Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. In 2001, John received the Spirit of Chilliwack Community Award, in recognition of all that he had done to raise the standard of musicianship in Chilliwack. Maestro John Van Liempt’s life long dream was to conduct Ludwig von Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, and on May 31 and June 1, 2002, he gave his last gift to the communities of Chilliwack and Abbotsford. John’s other musical highlights were conducting Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture on the lawns of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, as well as in Kingston, Ontario, with his 70 piece Ceremonial Guard Band, complete with carillon, artillery and fireworks. He also conducted this major work with the RCR Band in Fredricton and St. John’s, New Brunswick. John had the ability to transform something ordinary into something grandiose and spectacular. This charismatic man and gifted musician will be missed by so many. John is survived by his soulmate and beloved spouse, Paula DeWitt; sons, Roman (New Brunswick) Bevin & Login (Chilliwack); one daughter, Vonda (New Brunswick) and one grandson, Jordan (New Brunswick). He was predeceased by his father, Henricus Arnoldus Maria Van Liempt, and his mother, Angela Honorina Van Liempt (DeMeij). A Memorial Service and celebration of Maestro Van Liempt’s life will be held at 1:00 pm, on Thursday, August 15, 2002, at the Chilliwack Alliance Church, 8700 Young Road, Chilliwack. A reception will follow.
If desired, memorial donations may be made at the Envision Credit Union on Young Rd. to the John Van Liempt Memorial Fund, to provide scholarships to further the musical education of selected students, or to the Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra.