John Vogelzang

21 October , 194930 January , 2019

Mr. John Vogelzang of Lacombe, AB, passed away surrounded by his loving family on January 30, 2019, at age 69. After a brief struggle with cancer, he was called home to be with his Lord and Saviour.

John’s immediate family immigrated from the Netherlands in the early 1950s, moving first to Rocky Mountain House, then eventually settling in Barrhead, Alberta. He was grateful for the opportunities available to his family in Canada, and the sense of security his family felt after having survived World War Two. He spent his youth fishing and playing hockey on the Paddle River, being the class smart aleck, and working as a gas jockey at Harvey’s White Rose before graduating from high school. John continued his formal education to receive a diploma in Hospital Organization and Management, a degree in Health Services Administration, and become a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

John articled for Sax, Zimmel, Stewart & Co. in Barrhead while working toward his Chartered Accounting designation. He then moved to Edmonton and worked for Revenue Canada; he occasionally feared for his life while staying in sketchy, remote motels, and once he was referred to as a “hippie scab” when ordered to leave an angry client’s property. After that he briefly worked as an internal auditor at the University of Alberta hospital, and then started with the Hospital Services Commission, where he travelled and completed assessments at smaller hospitals. John returned to Barrhead and became the Business Manager at the local hospital, and was then promoted to Assistant Administrator. A move to Lacombe followed, where he took on the role of Hospital Administrator two months after his 30th birthday. Next, he joined the David Thompson Health Region as its Vice-President, an organization he led soon afterward as its President & Chief Executive Officer. The Government of Alberta restructured all regional health authorities in 2008, and John subsequently enjoyed over 10 years of retirement.

John was a dynamic extrovert, and absolutely adored people. He had an encyclopedic memory for personal details, and would routinely spend 45 minutes chatting with someone he encountered while running errands. John loved to talk to children who thought he was Santa Claus when he recently experimented with a longer beard, as well as teenagers who admired his Big Bang Theory inspired t-shirt emblazoned with the punchline “Bazinga.” He also recognized not everyone was afforded the same good fortune in life. Consequently, John personally financially supported a variety of organizations, causes and events such as A Better World, Canadian Cancer Society, CNIB, the Dr. Murray Martin Speaker Series, Festival of Trees, Nature Conservancy of Canada, SPCA, Ten Thousand Villages, United Way, the Vogelzang Family Fund, and many others. He gave employees opportunities for professional development commensurate with their efforts and talents, and valued character as much as credentials, mentoring several individuals along the way. John was unfailingly generous with his time, energy, and expertise, and gave people the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. He was a sounding board for people facing both professional and personal challenges, and believed in demonstrating leadership through action. That’s why John attended Pine Lake in the immediate aftermath of the deadly tornado, assessed in person how the Red Deer River flooding could threaten healthcare provision within the communities of Drumheller and Sundre, and served several annual hot turkey dinners — not turkey roll! — to hospital staff working during the Christmas statutory holiday.

Some of the simplest things in life were among John’s greatest pleasures; sitting around a campfire and gazing at the stars, everything to do with the bright Alberta sunshine, the sound of the wind blowing through the trees, and hiking Cape Split in Nova Scotia with his daughter Jody. His favourite travel destinations included Hawaii, Arizona, Jasper, AB, Newfoundland, and British Columbia for the annual Labour Day Weekend golf trips with the motley crew of usual suspects. John also loved to eat; among his favourite foods were steak, his wife Casey’s spaghetti, his daughter Kristy’s chocolate chip cookies, Denise’s roast beef, and Sadie’s lemon meringue pie. John treasured his family’s pets, most notably Libby, his beloved black Labrador Retriever and walking companion. He also cherished feeding blue jays and hummingbirds, and humanely captured two mischievous squirrels in his backyard, promptly releasing them in the nearest nature preserve with a parting gift of peanuts and best wishes. John enjoyed watching the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Blue Jays, and played baseball, golf and mini-golf. He was involved with the Barrhead Blue Jays and Lacombe Dodgers baseball teams, and worked extensively to organize and promote the annual baseball tournament for the latter. John could frequently be found watching Jeopardy, Little House on the Prairie, and political shows on television, reading Western books, listening to his favourite music, and making extremely bad puns until everyone else gave up trying to compete with him. And every Christmas Eve, you could count on his viewing the film Scrooge - the definitive 1951 version starring Alastair Sim, of course. Likewise, John’s favourite toast, from the 1977 Christmas TV Movie The Gathering, resonated more strongly with him as each year passed: “…to what we have. To what we had. And to what we hope to have.”

John is survived by his wife of 46 years, Shirley (nicknamed Casey), and daughters, Jody and Kristy. He is also survived by sisters Jenny (George) Wemekamp, Fredrika (Joe) Peters, Rikie Feringa, and Dinie (Case) Hamoen, mother-in-law Irma Charlton, sister-in-law Alie Vogelzang, brother-in-law Jim Charlton (Nancy), and countless beloved family members and friends.

John is predeceased by his parents John and Hendrika, brother Bill, and best friend, Douglas Wood.

Funeral will be held at 1 pm on Wednesday, February 6, 2019, at the Rose Garden Chapel in Barrhead, AB, with Pastor Art Verboon officiating. The funeral may be viewed online via live stream & tributes may be made at:

A private interment in the Barrhead Community Cemetery will occur at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made directly to The Lacombe Palliative Care Society.

John’s family extends special thanks to the following people for their kindness and efforts to ensure his comfort & peace: Dr. Wendy Ackermann, Dr. David Dawson, Corinne Huculak, Indranie Young, Lisa Hill, Jennifer at the Red Deer Hospice, the Lacombe Home Care, Palliative EMS & Community Paramedic teams, and all Unit B staff at the Lacombe Hospital.

To view the Memorial Service online please follow the link User name is password is GEZDCD

The Streaming will start February 6 at 12:50 PM


  • Memorial Service Wednesday, 6 February , 2019

John Vogelzang

have a memory or condolence to add?

Juliana Lee

16 February 2019

Dear Casey, Jody and Kristy,

I am sorry to hear of John’s passing. I always enjoyed coming over to visit your home during my teenage years.

I remember Kristy sharing fondly your family trips to Arizona. As well
As the yearly DTHR golf tournament.

My condolences and many hugs to you and your family during this difficult time.

Julie (Benny) Lee

Mary Svoboda

8 February 2019

Casey, Kristy, Jody and family - Peace be with you. I’m sorry to hear of John’s passing. He was a very kind and caring person. Great leader for us all. God be with you and may he Rest In Peace 🙏

Wayne Koch

8 February 2019

Very sad news indeed. My condolences to his family.
I remember our first day working together, and our careers beginning with a Chartered Accountant firm on July 2, 1968. I remember most his unique character, his remarkable wit and sense of humor and his very considerable intelligence and wisdom. Wayne Koch, Vancouver, BC

Gail Urquhart

7 February 2019

I just learned of John's passing and have been flooded with memories of my time in Red Deer with the David Thompson Health Trust and my good fortune in having the opportunity to have worked with John. There are usually just a few people who change the course of one's life, and John was one for me. I learned from him that leaders can be humble. They can admit mistakes. They can be funny. (So so funny.) I learned so many leadership lessons from him and I am forever grateful.

I'll miss our annual wager on the outcome of the World Series, which despite his immense knowledge of the game, teams, players and stats, he generally lost to me!

What an absolute gem of a human being.

Gail Urquhart

James Haney

6 February 2019

John made a very large impact on my life and I will miss him. He took an awkward (new!) health executive... and through coaching and mentoring, helped me understand what it means to lead and be a true resource to healthcare. John always made time to listen, bounce ideas off of, and give advice with clear rationale that helped me gain a mindset for what true healthcare leadership means.

My relationship with John extended beyond work, as he, Ken Brown, and I made a point to golf at least once a year (often much more), during which he would impress upon me a mindset of creativity... that being the ability to use unconventional golf clubs for whatever circumstances he or I would find our golf balls in. It would not be unusual for John (or I!) to make a less than perfect shot, followed by an "oh John.." and then inevitably he would say... "I think I am going to putt that!"..... even if he was 150 yards from the hole! (And more often than not, he would get it close!).

John also taught me how to face adversity with grace and dignity, especially when faced with factors outside of my control. When the health system changed in 2008, John remained the ever dignified leader that he is, and helped many, if not all of his team navigate a huge unknown. What really impressed me was his effortless shift to informal leadership and his ability to remain involved and highly sought after in terms of advice and wisdom.

John you will be missed. Thank you for helping me define and strive for ever higher regardless of outcome...... "I think I am going to putt that!"

James Haney

Lynda Kelly

6 February 2019

John was such a fine person, full of integrity and broad-mindedness. I was so shocked and saddened to learn of his passing. John was the most respected, well-liked leader I have ever had the pleasure of working for. He will be greatly missed and I offer my deepest condolences to Casey & family. God Bless

Elaine McFadden

6 February 2019

I am fortunate to have so many great memories of John and every one of them brings a smile to my face. No matter what the situation at hand, he always brought kindness, compassion, respect and of course, humour. Anyone who knew him appreciated his quick wit and his extraordinary way with words.

One memory I have was when we decided to auction John’s valuable time to the winning hospital department in order to raise money and awareness for the United Way. John wasn’t keen at first but when he realized the number of staff he would get to meet on a personal level he was all for it. That’s the kind of guy he was - down to earth and always interested in a person’s story. He approached every situation for what he might learn from it or be able to give to it. But the look on his face was priceless when he realized he was going to have to wear a hairnet in the Dietary department. But he did it, with a chuckle and a flourish, and he enjoyed every minute of it.
So many memories. He was the best boss, mentor and friend a person could have. I will miss our lunches, phone calls, his genuine friendship, his smile.

Casey, Jody, and Kristy, our thoughts are with you. He will be remembered for all that he gave, for the good life that he lived, for the very special person that he was. May time help you heal as you hold your memories close.

Elaine & Dale McFadden

Holly Wilton

5 February 2019

So sorry for your loss Casey, Kristy,and Jody.
I always enjoyed our visits when John would come for his Haircut . I think I’ve done his hair since you’ve moved to Lacombe. Such a generous pleasant man,with a great sense of humour and always very interesting to talk to.All of us will miss him at the salon. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.

Marian Trafford

5 February 2019

Casey, you and John were the first people to meet me at the airport as a young physio arriving to work at Barrhead hospital in 1979. John was particularly helpful in finding a family friend’s apartment to rent. I then applied for the new post in Lacombe as the first physio there. Through John’s facilitation I got involved in the baseball and also had him as a boss on the ambulance service. There are not many people who have had their new boss help them to move, but I did when I first came to Lacombe.
You have always made me feel welcome when visiting and you were the last people we visited prior to our return to England.
It was great to catch up then and a pleasure to see you both, although I have not seen the girls for 30 years. I am saddened to hear of John’s death, and wish the family happiness in their memories and courage and much love to help over the next weeks and months.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.

Donald & Dawn Atkinson

5 February 2019

Casey, Jodi & Kristy:
How very sorry and saddened we are to learn of John's passing. It was truly a shock to learn of his illness and subsequent death.
How very fortunate for the communities of Lacombe and District back in the late 70's when the Hospital Board of Trustees hired John to be Administrator. The rest is history as they say.
Always Professional, very knowlegible, quite personable, great sense of humour, quiet persona.
It was my privilege to have known and worked with him. He was a good man.
Casey , we hope you and your girls will find peace and comfort in the many memories you will have of your life together.
Please know we think of you at this sad and difficult time.
Sincere and Deepest Sympathy

Donald & Dawn Atkinson