William Francis Verhaegen, Jr., of Aliso Viejo, California, died suddenly at Saddleback Memorial Hospital, Laguna Hills, California, on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016. He was 63 years young.
Born on March 1, 1952, in Montclair, New Jersey, Bill grew up in Caldwell, New Jersey before moving to Southern California 36 years ago. He attended St. Aloysius Grammar School in Caldwell, New Jersey and St. Benedict’s High School in Newark, New Jersey, before graduating from James Caldwell High School, West Caldwell, New Jersey in 1970. He also attended Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota.
Mr. Verhaegen worked as a chemical engineer at Resistoflex Corporation in Roseland, New Jersey during the mid to late 1970’s before relocating to Huntington Beach California, where he continued his career as a chemical engineer. He retired from Ingram Micro, in Santa Ana, California, as a Computer Technology Specialist in 2014.
He is the son of William Francis Verhaegen, Sr., former United States Postmaster of the Caldwells and Mary Rose Verhaegen (Lynch). Both parents are deceased. He is survived by his wife of 22 years, Terri Foy Verhaegen, his son William Francis Verhaegen III, 15 years old, both of Aliso Viejo, California; his sister Victoria Ann Nissen of Marina del Rey, California; his nephews, James Nissen, 28, of Brentwood, California, and Eric Nissen, 25, of Westchester, California; his sister Carolyn Anne Jones (Verhaegen) of West Caldwell, New Jersey; nephew Michael William Jones, 17 and niece Abigail Jones, 13, both of West Caldwell, New Jersey. He also is survived by many Verhaegen/Herd cousins from several generations, and his two best friends of 58 years, John Barrow of Lake Forest, California and John Carrollton of Caldwell, New Jersey.
Bill was always very involved with volunteering his time. He was on the board of the Huntington Beach Playhouse for 15 years, serving as president for six years. He coached YMCA and NJB Basketball and also coached Aliso Viejo Little League, all in the enjoyment of helping others and spending time with his son, Billy. He volunteered his time for other family members including coaching flag football for his nephews, Jimmy and Eric. His interest reached across 3,000 miles as he always cheered for the “Caldwell Chiefs” or any sport his niece and nephew were involved in. Michael and Abigail always looked forward to the phone call from ‘Uncle Bill’ asking, “How was your game?” He was a great Dad, and a wonderful uncle who adored his family.
Bill was a prolific reader, interested in history, aviation and politics. He was also a huge sports fan, supporting his favorite teams—the Jets, Yankees and USC Trojans. He also took much pride in researching his family history and was a big supporter of the MIA Recoveries ongoing expeditions in China, Burma and India to locate and recover missing-in-action (MIA) US airmen who disappeared in that area of Asia during WWII. His support came from the death in 1943 of his Uncle, Sgt. Louis F. Verhaegen, assistant Radio Operator for the “Flying Tigers,” whose plane, the ‘Pregnant Swan,’ was found in 2008 at the eastern end of the Himalayas. Bill was just recently interviewed for a radio feature on this topic.
A Mass will be held at St. Aloysius Catholic Church, 219 Bloomfield Avenue, Caldwell, NJ on Jan.16 at 11 a.m. The interment will follow at Prospect Hill Cemetery, in Caldwell on Monday, Jan. 18 at 10 a.m. Arrangements in NJ are in care of the Codey & Jones Funeral Home of Caldwell. To share a memory or a condolence, click HERE.
In lieu of flowers, donation to the MIA Recoveries Program, P.O. Box 12871, Prescott, AZ 86304-2871 (www.miarecoveries.org/funding) in honor of Louis F. Verhaegen would be greatly appreciated.