Cornelis Carel Callenbach 

1902 – 1962 (1.3.6)

By Reintjen Koning – Callenbach (


Father was born in Nijkerk on 7 October 1902. He was the last child of Cornelis Carel Callenbach (1.3) and Jacoba Jeannette Spruyt. For the first day of his life he was called Hans, short for Johannes, but soon his parents regretted that decision and the next day his name was changed to Cornelis Carel after the little brother who had died six months earlier at the age of 5 years. And thus there was again a Kees(je) 1) in the family, named after his father, grandfather, great grandfather and great-great grandfather. (The last one being the father of the Profit)

Father’s eldest sister was named Johanna, but was called Han (1.3.1), she was born in 1894. Two years later a second daughter arrived and was named Frederika Johanna, after grandfather Spruyt, but she died at 10 months. Cornelis Carel was (1.3.3) was born in 1897 but died in 1902. As second son came Frederik Johannes (1.3.4) in 1898. Frederika Maria (1.3.5 was born in 1901 and died in1917.


Father was born in the house in the “Molenplein” 2) but will have taken his first steps in the beautiful, new house in the Langestraat. The house was situated in the middle of the town, but had a very deep back yard. It was an oasis of peace. He grew up with the sounds of the carillon from the tower of the Dutch Reformed Church where his great grandfather had preached, in the warm and close knit family of Opa Kees and Oma Koosje. The couple were very much in love with each other and their children. Extended family members visited often and with pleasure and many stayed for some time. Also, refugees from Belgium were welcome and who came for longer or shorter periods during the first World War to recover from their ordeals. Opa did not only live in the middle of town but also stood in the middle of its commercial life of Nijkerk at that time. He was a great support to many, assisted by his friendly personality. He was a tremendous example for his children. Still, the family in the Langestraat was not spared more than their share of sadness. The loss of three children must have been a heavy load to carry.


After the primary school father attended high school in Amersfoort. During his school time he suffered serious and extended periods of ill health, This period tightened the bands with his parents even more. He possibly also learned to be patient during this period, a characteristic which would prove to be so useful later in his life. He did a lot of reading during this period like the books of Jules Vernes and Alexander Dumas. With Opa he shared his love of birds, who, apart from the canary, Piet, in a cage, had a large aviary. It is likely that my sister Coot. (later she used her second name Jeannette) ( inherited the love of birds from her Opa. Other then that, there were 2 greyhounds, Father used to take them on long bike rides so that they’d have a good run and to make them tired.


The bond between Father and his 4 year older brother Frits (1.3.4) was very strong and that remained so throughout their lives, even after they were married. The sudden death of their mother Koosje in August 1918 was a heavy blow for Opa and the three remaining children. Father was then 15 years old.


Initially, Han, the only surviving daughter, who was 8 years older than Father, helped Opa with the house keeping. But in the spring of the next year she married Cornelis Carel de Vries (1.1.3) and shortly there after the couple departed for the (then) Dutch East Indies. As a result companion ladies joined the house in the Langestraat, to keep matters in order for the three men. First Mary Deutman and later Agatha Bruining- Spruyt, a second cousin of Oma.


After his high school education it was almost self evident that he would succeed his Father in the “Kalkhok” 3), in order that Opa would be able to devote more time to the printing business.


In 1902 Opa’s cousin, Kees (Cornelis Carel Callenbach) (5.1) had died and his wife, Jannetje van Ramshorst had asked him to assist her in the management of the printing business, CC Callenbach. Her eldest son George (5.1.1) was at that time just 10 years old Later, as a joint managing director of the printing works, he would take the responsibility as publisher of the Nijkerkse Courant newspaper.


On 15th February 1927 Father married Reintje Haspels (3.1.6) in Nijmegen. The young couple moved into their beautiful new house “The Meinskamp” which they had built in the Hoogstraat next door to the publishing business. At that stage the general opinion was that they lived a long way out of town. Many meadows around, real country life, with cows in the paddock and later, during the war, chickens in the garden and a substantial vegetable garden.


Happy years lay ahead in The Meinskamp. In December 1928 their eldest daughter, Jacoba Jeannette ( was born. She was named after the mother of Father. There remained a lot of contact with Opa in the Langestraat, who enjoyed his first grandchild, who lived so close by and not in the far away Indies, as did the children of Han and Cor. There was a very special bond between mother Reintje and Opa as evidenced by the fact that they often travelled to Nauheim together, where Opa used to take a cure for his health, and Mother accompanied him, until Father could join them as soon a his workload permitted. The “Aunties”, Heleen (5.1.2) and Diek (5.1.3), who lived across the road in the Hoogstraat and who did not have any children of their own, would be only too pleased to look after “Cootje”. Auntie Heleen even wrote a children’s book about her called Cootje.  


Mothers family from Nijmegen were also regular visitors, especially Aunt To (3.1.3), the oldest and single sister of my Mother often came to stay. Also Willemientje (, daughter of Mother’s youngest sister came regularly during the school holidays as a play mate for Coot, as there were few children in the neighbourhood for her to play with.


In the mean time Father had also been involved in the management of the printing works, together with his father and cousin George. (5.1.1) The “Kalkhok” had been passed on the Jan de Vries (1.1.7) in 1927, who had given up his occupation as a merchant mariner to settle in Nijkerk.


Shortly after the passing of his cousin Cees, CC Callenbach (5.7.3), Father joined the executive team of the publishing firm GF Callenbach, a business, which he knew well, having been on the board for many years. Opa wrote in his letters to auntie Han in glowing terms about the way his son Kees, as a young man, acquitted himself of his task with tact and insight. Under his stewardship and that of Arnold Knottnerus, the business flourished and gained wide recognition in the Netherlands.


More and more did Father follow in the footsteps of Opa. He succeeded him in numerous committees in Nijkerk, but also an esteemed person in the Printing world. He was an engaging and peace loving person, who could win over people with quick witticisms, both in the business world as in the family circle.


At home with Mother Reintje he could relax from his busy and some times worrying business life. They enjoyed the bike rides in the Veluwe.


Father was a true Christian, not as much in his speech as in deeds. He was a foundation member of the Evangelical Foundation, a more liberal streaming within the Dutch Reformed church. He applied himself with great fervour to the building of “his” Peace Church. Together with the other committee members, he wanted to make it a beautiful building, with real church bells. He donated the last bell, after he died. The carillon from his youth had made an impression.


On 2nd August 1938 I arrived as the second daughter Reintjen ( Father and Mother were immensely grateful that the long desired extension to the family had finally been realised. It must have been difficult for Cootje to loose her prime position after nine years. Now she would have to consider a little sister, who demanded all the attention.


The copper 5) wedding anniversary of Father and Mother in 1939 was celebrated with gusto at the Meinskamp with much of the extended family in attendance. That was good because with the start of the second world war uncertain times lay ahead.


In the last year of the war uncle Frits, Father’s brother, and aunt Paula and their children, Juut (, Kees ( and Lies( moved in with us. For us children a pleasant time, although I had to get used to playing with cousins, who sometimes damaged my toys because they were not as careful as I was.



With the benefit of hind sight, it must have required a significant effort from our parents to be able to offer us a pleasant and safe home life, but they succeeded wonderfully well. Even in the country food was becoming scares, Father and oom Frits had to regularly visit farms to barter or beg food for their families and people who travelled past our place from the population centres in the west of the country. Some times, when danger threatened, the fathers had to temporarily disappear or sometimes even go “underground”. On one particular bad day both mothers were arrested because the fathers were absent and were detained in the town hall. Fortunately it all ended well, as my sister Coot wrote in her diary. Her account of that episode appeared recently in the “Profeet”. For her, as a nearly 16 year old girl, who experienced this quite consciously, it must have been a frightening event. But I can really only remember the happy things. After the liberation uncle Frits and aunt Paula returned to Amersfoort


The death of mother Reintje in May of 1947, as the result of breast cancer, was a big shock, which totally changed our lives. This must have been a very difficult time for Father, not only did he have to manage the loss of his beloved wife all alone, but also the illness of Coot, which had just become apparent, and her admittance to a clinic. I was not long before, just as previously with Opa, live-in ladies appeared to manage the house keeping.


Uncle Frits was a tremendous support in those days. The year before he had lost his beloved wife, Paula. In the following summers the brothers travelled a few times, together in the car to what was then, far away Spain. They came home with exotic photos and presents.


They rang each other on the telephone every day. I can still hear Father’s; “So, Frederik, how are things”, as if they had not spoken to each other for a long time. On 15th November 1951 Coot got married in Leiden to Gerrit Donkersteeg. She was divorced in 1956. Their son, Cornelis Carel ( was born on 16 April 1952.


After seven years brighter times arrived again. He had met a colleague in Switzerland called Clärli Herren-Nauer, who managed the publishing firm Der Evangelischer Verlag, of her deceased husband. They rapidly reached agreement that G.F.Callenbach would publish the series “Kirchliches Dogmatik”. Father’s marriage proposal required longer consideration. It would be a significant step for her and her 11 year old daughter Eva, to exchange the views of the beautiful mountains for the flat polders of Nijkerk and that is not to mention the language and cultural differences.


Fortunately for all of us, Clärli decided to risk it and in October 1954 they got married in the church in Zollikon in a ceremony officiated by Prof. Henk Berkhof, already a close friend of both.

Eva, five years younger than I, learned Dutch quite quickly, so fast as a matter of fact that the teachers in the high school never noticed that it was not her first language. Father emerged as a tremendous father for her. They challenged each other, would engage in serious discussions and enjoyed each other’s company. It was for both a beautiful experience, which unfortunately only lasted for 7 years and ended with Father’s death. “Vadertje” 4), as Eva called him lovingly, had made a lasting impression on her.


Uncle Frits had married Aleid van Dijk the previous year. Now the brothers could share their wedded bliss with each other again and did so in abundance because the friendship between both families remained as strong as ever.


In his beloved Switzerland, the country for which he developed an affection during the cures and holidays of his youth and which was exemplified after his marriage to Clärli, fate struck. On 2nd February1962 he died in a hospital in Zurich as the result of a heart attack. He was 59 year old. His beloved wife Clärli was shattered and remained, after the death of her second husband, alone in Nijkerk.


His demise came too early for all of us, there was still so much to do and enjoy, humanly speaking.


I remember my Father as a gay, cheerful and honest human being. He delighted in the cosiness of the homely atmosphere and managed to cause a lot of merriment with his witty comments. He was a loving and caring Father, who prepared me well for life’s journey.


1) The “je” at the end makes it the diminutive form of Kees.

2)  In English “Mill Square”

3)The Kalkhok (lit, lime pen) was a retail business in hardware and coking coal. It got its name from a shed in which quick lime was converted into slaked lime. The slaked lime was used to “white wash” walls

4) Vader is the Dutch word for father. The tje at the end makes it the diminutive form, which is often used as a term of endearment.

5) A copper wedding anniversary is 12½ years.


The foot notes are provided by the translator.