Tuesday, October 18, 2011


H. John Idema
(August 21, 1920 - November 24, 2008)

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H. John Idema
U.S. Veteran
H. John Idema, 88, of the Town of Poughkeepsie, died Monday, November 24, 2008, at his residence. Son of the late Henry and Henrietta Idema of Beacon, Master Gunnery Sergeant Idema [1] was born on August 21, 1920 in Beacon and soon moved to Poughkeepsie. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps shortly after the December 7th, 1940 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. As a United States Marine he saw combat action in the Pacific and participated in the assaults on Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Tarawa, and Guam, where they saw fierce fighting between U.S. Marines and the Imperial Japanese Army. He was among the first Marine contingent to land in Japan after their surrender. At the age of 23 he became one of, if not the, youngest Marine to attain the ranks of Master Sergeant, Master Gunnery Sergeant, then First Sergeant, and finally Marine Sergeant Major, the highest enlisted pay grades in the USMC during WWII. He was on Iwo Jima as the Marines raised the flag on Mount Suribachi, on February 23, 1945. John Idema later became a builder and developer, building Poughkeepsie's most exclusive neighborhoods, Walnut Hill and Merrywood, which was named after his wife. He also built office building in Poughkeepsie, including the first modern office buildings in the City of Poughkeepsie. When he retired from the building business he went on to real estate sales, finally retiring at age 75 after turning over his business to his long time friend and fellow broker, Ed McNiff of Poughkeepsie. He was also active in building the Eye Replacement Program for the Poughkeepsie Lions Club, serving as president for the maximum terms allowed, and frequently flying eyes throughout the east coast in his own plane as a volunteer. An avid pilot, he held multiple FAA certifications, building and running two airports and several seaplane bases in Dutchess County. He served as a past President of the local AOPA chapter, and the Experimental Pilots Association. He continued to fly until age 86 and remained active at the local EPA airfield until his death. His wife, Mary B. Versace worked at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. during World War II, where they began dating. On July 5, 1946, he married her. She died on April 27, 2002 while her son was in Afghanistan. He is survived by a son, Jack Keith Idema and his wife, Peni Idema, of Poughkeepsie, NY; sister and brothers-in-laws, Teresa Milano and her husband, Dominic and Rosanna Tompkins, all of Poughkeepsie, and Catherine Bracone and Dolores Shaughnessy and her husband, Edward, all of Wappingers Falls; brothers, Phillip and his wife, Lillian, John Versace and his wife, Patricia and Dominic, all of Poughkeepsie and Joseph Versace and his wife, Rosemarie of Raleigh, N.C.; and numerous nieces and nephews. His brother Matthew Idema of Ft. Meyers, Fla., passed previously, in 2002. Visitation will be Friday 4-8 pm at Parmele Funeral Home, 110 Fulton Ave., Poughkeepsie. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday 10 am from St. Mary’s Church, 231 Church St., Poughkeepsie. Interment will follow in St. Peter’s Cemetery, Poughkeepsie with full military honors. Following the committal service and in accordance with John and Mary Idema's wishes, a reception will take place at their home on 12 Jonathan Lane, Walnut Hill, Poughkeepsie. All family and friends are encouraged to attend.

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