John Albert Jonker was born on April 7, 1940, in Prospect Park, New Jersey. After some time, John, along with his wife of 62 years, Amelia Jonker, moved to Hawthorne, New Jersey, where he began his career in the fire service. The Jonkers later moved to Ringwood, New Jersey, where they raised a family and John served as a 55-year member of the Erskine Lakes Fire Company #1. John Jonker passed away on February 10, 2021, after returning home from a drill night at the firehouse.
If there was one thing John loved just as much as his family, it was serving the community as a volunteer firefighter. After swearing the oath to serve and protect the community of Ringwood, John held almost every position, administratively and firematically, at the Erskine Lakes firehouse, including a number of years as the department’s fire commissioner.
Despite all these great achievements, his greatest pride was having his family serve alongside him. His son, John Jonker Jr., is the current fire commissioner of Erskine Lakes Fire Company #1 and has been a member of the fire department for 42 years. Like his father before him, he has also held almost every position within the department. John Sr.’s grandson, Daniel Jonker, joined the ranks of the Erskine Lakes Fire Company #1 about ten years ago and has begun to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps by holding positions administratively and having the privilege of being a lieutenant. John Sr.’s granddaughter, Cortney Jonker, has also served alongside her grandfather as a volunteer, joining the department about six years ago. After Daniel joined, the Jonkers made history by being the first family in Erskine Lakes Fire Company #1’s history to have three generations of family members serving side by side.
Nothing made John Sr. prouder than having his family join him in something he was so passionate about. He was eager to teach the trade and tradition, volunteer his time, work hard, and was the very definition of what “service to others” and “brotherhood” was all about. To this day, new members of the Erskine Lakes Fire Company #1 are told stories of his character, respect, kindness, and honor. His gear and awards still hang proudly within the walls of the firehouse as a reminder to old friends of his dedication to the community and his fellow brothers and sisters, and as a lesson to new members about pride for this trade and all its traditions. Our hero may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.