Jacques Corneille Louis Jaeger (age 91) passed away peacefully at his home in Danbury on April 6, 2020, surrounded by family. He is survived by his wife Elise Jaeger (nee Kann) of nearly 66 years and their 5 children, Jacob (Barbie), Judith (Dan Stein), Frederick (Leah), Sonia (Donald Rae), Richard (Jennifer Schuster) 7 grandchildren (Josh (Rosa), Jeremy, Justin (Jessica), Coleman, Calvin, Benjamin and Elliott) plus 6 great grandchildren (Jacob, Julian, Eva, Madelyn, Mason and Mia), and cousins Anne Jette van Loon and Elsje Pijl. He was pre-deceased by a brother (Hendrik?), who died in childhood, and by his son in law, Ken Salzman.
Born on August 30, 1928 in Semarang, Indonesia to Jacqueline Cornelia Louise Fonteyn and Frederik Lucas Hendrik Jaeger, Jacques spent his childhood between Indonesia, Switzerland and the Netherlands, his father’s homeland. Childhood memories he related to his family ranged from idyllic scenes of riding his bicycle in warm tropical rains or sailing off the waters of Indonesia, to trips to European sanatoriums in attempts to cure his mother of tuberculosis, to which she eventually succumbed during WWII in Indonesia. His father died in a Japanese prison camp. Jacques was also briefly imprisoned before being liberated by the British. After the war he traveled to the Netherlands on The Tegelberg, serving as a refugee ship.
He attended hotel college in The Hague where he met his future wife, worked for a stint on the New Amsterdam ocean liner and later was among the first flight attendants working for KLM during the early post-war years of scheduled airline travel. These trips took him to exotic places throughout Europe, the Middle East and the Far East in the 1950’s and provided for lifelong stories of adventure with which he could regale listeners. Among his favorites was the trip during which he slept on a bed of gold bullion being extracted from a middle eastern country. Another involved the captain instructing all to prepare for a nosedive to restart one of the plane’s engines.
He and his wife emigrated to America in 1955 where he took a ground job at Idlewild airport (later JFK). His 40 year tenure at KLM included a range of positions starting in catering, then moving into passenger service, dispatcher and station manager. He was in the forefront as computerization was adopted in the industry and worked his way up in the field of computer communications before retiring as Director of Communications for North America.
In 1985 he appeared on a Dutch radio program called “Address unknown” which had been running since the end of WWII as a service to help reconnect people who had lost touch. Within the hour he discovered family he believed he had lost back in Indonesia, to whom he was reunited after 40 years.
Jacques enjoyed outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, fishing and hunting. He was a devoted DIY’er, adept at fixing almost anything. He loved travelling, especially to see family in the Netherlands, and within the US to the Berkshires, and the Adirondacks as well as participating in Sierra Club projects such as building and maintaining trails, or copying petroglyphs from caves. He also enjoyed sailing with friends, was an avid reader and enjoyed following politics.
Donations can be made in his memory to a charity of your choice. Also feel free to honor Jacques’ memory by thinking of him while you perform an act of kindness.
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