Jeff, known to many Cordovans as “Sarge”, his boat’s name, was the rare fishermen who had the same boat for 40 years. Jeff was a thrifty Dutchman who did not favor change.
Jeff was born in Munich, Germany on Dec. 10, 1952 to Capt. Harold Van Dyck and Eleanor Roman Van Dyck. Jeff was in the middle of the pack of four brothers, John the preacher, Neil the podiatrist, Glenn the baker and Jay in law enforcement.
Jeff grew up in Sacramento, California “before it was ruined,” as he would say. He loved roaming the fields and liberating the nearby orchards of fruits and nuts. He enjoyed sports early on and excelled in football.
His first job was delivering the Sacramento Bee in junior high. He is was up at 4 a.m. six days a week to fold and then deliver the newspapers on his bicycle. Jeff’s strong work ethic was developed at an early age. He would often take his paper money to buy multiple Hershey bars before breakfast and then pedal home for a proper breakfast made by his mother. His mother never found out.
In fifth grade, he was elected student body president at Pasadena Elementary. He was cured of politics instantly when informed he needed to make a speech to the student body after the death of JFK.
Jeff was a standout linebacker at Mira Loma High in Sacramento 1968-1971. He was named to several all star teams including All Northern California honors. He attended college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on a football scholarship and had a successful career until he was impacted by significant injuries. Jeff made many lifelong friends on the grid-iron, so he thinks all the orthopedic issues were probably worth it. Jeff graduated from Cal Poly in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology.
After college graduation Jeff headed to north to Alaska to get rich diving for herring spawn on kelp. He broke even and reported his feet finally thawed out in July. He then worked in the mariculture industry growing abalone in Cayucos, California.
But Alaska called his name, and he would return for kelping and eventually purse seining with Jim Shaw throughout the ’70s. In 1980 he took the big leap and bought into salmon gillnetting. He had never been on the Copper River Flats once prior to buying in. The learning curve was steep, and he battled sea sickness for years. Jeff did not know the word quit. This would have been Jeff’s 40th year gillnetting.
In 1981 Paul Saunders introduced Jeff to Sandy Corrow, a nice, young schoolteacher; several months later they tied the knot. Jeff and Sandy have made Cordova their home since the day they married. When Sandy turned 63, Jeff remarked that she was the oldest girl he had ever dated. He was funny and could always make her laugh.
Katrina Eleanor was born in 1985. He celebrated so much that he slept under the piano that night. Benjamin Paul was born in 1987. Jeff was impressed that as a baby Ben would watch the 49ers with him without a peep. Jeff was very proud of his children and over the moon when his grandson Jack Knight Olson was born in August 2019.
Jeff enjoyed people, especially children. He said he could relate to kids because he never really wanted to grow up. He could often be seen cruising on his bike wearing his flipflops. There would be a bottle of bubbles and a frisbee in the bike basket in hopes of finding some kid to play with. He was a great supporter of youth sports, especially volleyball and swimming. Jeff was regular at the Bob Korn Pool where he got in plenty of exercise and socializing. He played his antique piano from Katalla daily. Jeff considered himself lucky and had a great life!
Jeff died suddenly at his home on Jan. 10 after preparing moose meatballs for a 49er playoff game. The meatballs turned out great, by the way.
Jeff will be missed by his wife Sandra Corrow Van Dyck of 37 years, his daughter Katrina Van Dyck Olson, son in-law Carl Olson, grandson Jack Knight Olson, son Benjamin Paul Van Dyck, his four brothers, his many relatives, and his good friends. Jeff requested no formal service but there may be a big party at a later date.
Sarge’s Italian Moose Meatballs
Salt & pepper
Moose burger or any other burger
Italian bread crumbs
Sauce: diced tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine
1. Take a sweet onion, garlic, chop it up to sauté with olive oil (be generous with the oil). As it is cooking add a fair amount of thyme along with some salt and pepper. Cook stuff until it starts to caramelize. Towards the end of this, add about a tbsp or so of honey. Set this aside.
2. Take hamburger, add 3 eggs, about 2/3 cup of Italian dried bread crumbs and about ½ cup parmesan cheese. Mix and add your sautéed ingredients.
3. Then take ice cream scooper and dallop the balls onto an oven pan and bake at about 350 for about 30 minutes.
4. While this is baking make the tomato sauce: a can of diced tomatoes, tomato paste, some red wine and let simmer. Or used your favorite marina sauce. When your balls are done, add them to the sauce.
A decent french bread with this stuff ladled over the top is quite tasty. enjoy.
Recipe by Jeff Van Dyck aka Sarge