Emily Ann Huizenga

July 30, 1941 to April 18, 2018

Emily, known as “Mrs. H” by friends and extended family, peacefully left this world April 18, 2018, in the presence of friends and family in San Diego, to finally receive the rest that had eluded her. She will truly be missed.

Emily was born on July 30, 1941 in Hammond, Indiana to Joseph and Vernamae Sotak, growing up in Whiting, Indiana.

Emily was known for her beautiful snow white hair, wonderful spirit and sense of humor, and infinite patience – providing so many good memories.

She cared for the needs of others, treating everyone as family, often to the neglect and disregard of her own interests and needs. She was brought up that everything had its place and should be neatly placed there.

As the oldest and only daughter, Emily’s, “take care of others” nature began when she was placed in charge and responsible for the care of her three brothers, Ralph and David, who predeceased her, and Mark, of Dickinson, Texas.

At the age of two, her parents began her doll collection of over 164 dolls that Emily exhibited at doll shows from 1944 to 1950, winning over 100 ribbons.

The sale of Emily’s doll collection financed her nurse’s training beginning in 1959. One doll, named Grunhildie, (a waxed face doll over 100 years old at the time) survived the sale and presently resides in San Diego. After graduating as a Registered Nurse in 1962 from Augustana Nursing School in Chicago, Illinois, Emily began her nursing career at Carle Hospital in Urbana, Illinois with her childhood friend, Sharon Poppen.

While there, in the spring of 1963, she met James Allen Huizenga attending the University of Illinois.

For their first date, they toured the campus on a rented tandem bicycle. At the end of the ride, Emily, exhibiting infinite patience, began over 53 years of saying to herself, “What have I gotten myself into?”

Between 1963 and their marriage on December 19, 1964 in Whiting, Indiana, they continued their courtship long distance, first from Watseka, Illinois; and then in March of 1964 after Jim’s enlistment in the U.S. Navy, from Great Lakes Naval Station in North Chicago, Illinois.

Again, to beg that question… On December 21, 1964, married for two days, while traveling to a Honeymoon Resort in Mt. Pocono, Pennsylvania, Jim found himself lost while driving through downtown Canton, Ohio. Emily was not impressed when Jim mentioned that moss always grows on the north side of trees.  Seeing few trees and no moss, stopping to ask directions from the people who began waving as they passed them for the second and third times, would have really impressed her.

Two days later in Mt. Pocono, even though neither of them had ever skied and against her better judgment, Emily was talked into a trip to the ski slopes. She was told, “It’ll be fun!” After very rudimentary instructions, let loose on the Beginner’s Slope and ignoring those instructions, Jim and Emily found that speed reduction down the slope could quickly be accomplished by falling down.

After lunch, Emily went to the top of the slope to be filmed by her new husband while skiing down the hill. “Super Skier” flew by Jim, never falling or stopping, and disappeared over a small rise. She’d fallen (in order to stop) but her left ski hardware cut her right leg to the bone just below the knee. After a quick patch up by Ski Rescue personnel, a trip to the hospital, and 15 stitches to the cut, Emily spent the rest of the honeymoon, plus additional recovery time, wearing a half cast. Emily was next seen decorating the resort clubhouse Christmas tree – on crutches.

Emily’s parents/grandparents never quite forgave Jim for what he’d done to their little girl on their honeymoon. The scar on Emily’s leg frowned at Jim for over 53 years and he continually wonders how he managed to meet and marry such a patient, forgiving and loving partner.

After Emily and Jim returned from their honeymoon, they took up residence in Waukegan, Illinois with Emily nursing there.  Upon completion of training at Great Lakes, Jim was stationed in San Diego from June 1965 to March 1968. Beginning in November 1965, they made their home in San Diego. During this period, with Emily nursing at Hillside Hospital, the Navy took Jim away for two 6 month WestPac cruises plus a final 3 month cruise off Vietnam, an absence of almost 1/3 of the first 4 years of their marriage.

After Jim’s discharge from the Navy, they returned to Champaign-Urbana for Jim to complete his degree at the U of I. Emily again worked at Carle Hospital where their son Paul Huizenga of Murietta, CA was born in 1968. Known for her toughness, organization and no nonsense attitude; when Emily birthed Paul on the second of her regular two days off, she was asked by her fellow nurses what hours she wanted to work during the next schedule.

Returning to San Diego in February 1970, after Jim’s graduation and employment at General Dynamics, Emily nursed at Clairemont General Hospital until retiring from nursing in 1982. Opting for a less stressful workplace, she then worked for Cynthia’s Hallmark, clerking at several of their stores and then working in their warehouse, with a final retirement in 2007.

She enjoyed and looked forward to hosting the yearly Thanksgiving get-togethers with friends and extended family, making sure that everyone went home with a full stomach and containers of leftover turkey, stuffing, potatoes, rolls, cranberries, pie, Grandma’s fruit salad, and all the other fixins.  Her yearly version of Christmas Crackers never failed to entertain all, despite occasional moans and groans when it came to reading the riddles.

What she saw in Jim, he’ll never know, but he will be eternally grateful she found something. His less than serious nature many times challenged her in dealing with the every day requirements of their lives.  Her ingrained sense of order and neatness was constantly put to the test by Jim’s continuing collector mentality.

Some of Emily’s favorite phrases:

— “What have I gotten myself into?”

— “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye!”

— “How do you know that?”

Jim has lost his life’s Love, Partner, Guide and Daily Compass.

Two lives touch

Sharing their existence

Each richer for the touch

A Celebration of Emily’s Life will be held July 29, beginning at 1 P.M., 3265 Mt. Tami Drive, San Diego, CA 92111. – 858.829.8047 – jhuizy@gmail.com.

Come and share memories of the extraordinary/special individual that was:

Emily Ann Huizenga – “Mrs. H”.

In lieu of flowers, please make memorial contributions to Habitat for Humanity, Rady Children’s Hospital or to a charity of your choice.

Celebration of Life

  • Date: July 29, 2018
  • Time: 1:00PM
  • Location: Huizenga Celebration of Life
  • Address: 3265 Mt. Tami Drive San Diego California
  • Directions: Huizenga Celebration of Life

I am so sorry for your loss Jim. I lost my husband almost 14 years ago, and I still miss him. I know what you are going through and my prayers go out to you. Sincerely, Sharon

Sharon L Castle on May 31, 2018

Oh Jim what a wonderful tribute!!!!!! It made me miss her more but so many memories. Hope you sent this on to our high school and nursing classmates. I will try. Love and hugs from me to you!!

Sharon (Poppen) Semple on May 30, 2018