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Richard Van Konynenburg (1942 - 2012)
Richard Arie Van Konynenburg
April 24, 1942- Sept 25 2012
Richard Arie Van Konynenburg passed away from a heart attack at the age of 70 on September 25th 2012 in Seattle Washington. Rich along with his wife Diana was visiting the home of his son Leigh Michael Vieira and his wife Jen. Rich had been a resident of LivermoreCA since 1976.
Rich was born in ModestoCA on April 24th 1942 to Franklin Van Konynenburg and his wife Christina Vanden Akker. Rich's parents were first generation Dutch Americans who operated a dairy farm. Dutch cultural traits such as the value placed on education, hard work, dependability, practicality and respect were transmitted to Rich. Rich grew up with his brother Franklin Albert, and sisters Gertrude Anna, and Henrietta Christina. As children, there were many fun memories created. The hay barn used as a "fort" was a childhood favorite. Rich had over 30 first cousins, and large family gatherings occurred on a regular basis. Rich was active in both FFA and 4H during his school years. He showed particular interest in science projects such as those related to electricity and loved his chemistry set. He found it especially fun to create stink bombs . He was gifted mechanically as well. At fourteen years of age, Rich worked along with Frank on an old '53 flat-head Ford, painting and repairing it. Rich's spirit of adventure was evident in the Summer of 1959 when he took a cross country trip with Frank to pickup a car in Detroit and drive it back to California..
Rich met Diana, the love of his life, and married her in May 1986. Rich gained two wonderful step-sons (Christopher Edward Vieira and Leigh Michael Vieira) as a result of their marriage. Rich and Diana were happily married for over 26 years.
Rich attended public schools in ModestoCA including PrescottSchool (a three room school) and then Stanislaus Union. Rich graduated from ModestoHigh School in 1959. Rich attended UC Davis for both his undergraduate and graduate education. As an undergraduate, Rich was president of the Alpha Gamma Ro fraternity at Davis. Rich was a member of ROTC, finance director of Picnic Day, president of Blue Key Honor Society, vice chairman of the Welfare Council and Fraternity Offices. Rich was chosen as a commencement speaker when he received his B.S. degree in 1963. He received a Ph.D in Engineering-Applied Physical Sciences in 1974.
Following college, Rich served in the US Army Corps of Engineers attaining the rank of Captain at the conclusion of his Army career. He served both at the Pentagon and at Ft. BelvoirVA. Rich specialized in the area of mine detection. As part of his military duty, Rich worked on special boats to detect floating mines in the waterways of Vietnam. He accompanied these boats to Vietnam and tested them while putting himself in harms way.
Rich worked for more than 30 years at the University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory doing research and development in nuclear materials and technology. He was especially active in the area of long term nuclear waste storage. Rich retired from LLNL in 2006, but had already begun significant work in health care research. In 2007, he proposed a hypothesis relating to a possible cause of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME-CFS). Rich suggested that an existing treatment for autism might be used in the treatment of ME-CFS. A Doctor led clinical study using this treatment was found to provide significant benefit to about two-thirds of the patients who participated. This treatment is finding growing use in the ME-CFS community internationally.
Rich professed a lifelong Christian faith which began during his childhood years at Calvary Reformed Church in RiponCA. In college he was active in the Davis Community (Presbyterian) Church and was president of the CalAggie Christian association. While serving at the Pentagon and at Fort Belvoir, VA. Rich was active in the Presbyterian church of Falls Church, VA. Following his return to California, and prior to his marriage, Rich spent 10 years in leadership in a Christian singles ministry related to Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto CA. Rich was active as a leader and teacher at Valley Christian Center in Dublin CA from 1986 until 2001. Rich and Diana began attending Cornerstone Fellowship in LivermoreCA in 2001, and have continued to do so. Rich's spiritual walk was marked by practical care for the needs of others. Rich shared appropriate but loving expressions of eternal truths' to those he encountered.
Rich enjoyed many family activities including trips to the middle east, South America, Europe, Alaska, and Mexico. At one time Rich held a private pilot's license.
Rich is survived by his wife, Diana, son, Chris Vieira, and his wife Nicole, all of Livermore, CA and son, Mike Vieira, and his wife Jen of Seattle, WA. Two grandchildren, Edward Christopher Vieira and David Anthony Vieira, also survive him. Rich's brother Frank resides in CalistogaCA. Rich's sister, Henrietta Van Konynenburg, currently resides with her husband, Tom, in Indiana; His sister, Gertrude Leachman, resides with her husband, Ron, in Tracy, CA. Many nieces and nephews still reside in the Modesto area.
Rich's father predeceased him in 1990 and his mother predeceased him in 2001.
Richard Van Konynenburg was larger than life yet all who knew him were impressed by his kindness, humility, and sharing personality. Rich's intellectual gifts were obvious to all in spite of his gentle spirit. He will be greatly missed.
On Thursday, October 4th, a time of visitation and viewing will be held from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Salas Bros. Funeral Home. 419 Scenic Drive, Modesto, CA95350 (209) 523-5646
On Friday, October 5th, at 1:00 p.m. there will be a traditional grave-side committal service, followed by a military honor service, at LakewoodMemorial Park, 900 Santa Fe Ave, Hughson, CA95326. Rich's brother in-law, Rick Baldwin, will be leading. Following the grave-side service a reception will be held in Modesto from 2:00-4:00 p.m at the Fellowship Hall of the FirstUnitedMethodistChurch850 16th Street (near I St.) Modesto
On Saturday, October 6th, at 10:30 a.m., a memorial and Celebration of Rich's life will be held at Cornerstone Fellowship 348 North Canyons Pkwy Livermore, CA 94551. The service will be led by Rev. Mark Calcagno of Cornerstone Fellowship.
A luncheon will follow the memorial service. Location and directions will be provided at the service.
Published in the Modesto Bee from October 3 to October 5, 2012