By Connor Lynch
BLOOMFIELD — “He was a man of faith, family and fun.” So said dairy farmer Phil Prinzen in remembrance of his father William Prinzen, a Dutch immigrant who helped lay the foundation of a family and farm that would flourish in Prince Edward County. He died in late June, at age 90.
Born in 1930 in The Netherlands, Prinzen’s family (including nine siblings) left war-torn Europe and landed in Halifax when he was 18. They took a train to their final destination, Prince Edward County, where his parents worked for various local farmers before buying a farm of their own in the early 1950s.
Prinzen grew up on the farm and found a career in farming to boot, working for Harvey McFarland, farmer and Picton’s longest-serving mayor, for 17 years. He met his future wife Betty Geertsma in 1952. They wed in 1954 and were married for 66 years.
In 1971 they bought a farm together, at Bloomfield. These days Prinzhaven Farms, at Bloomfield, is a powerhouse in the dairy industry. They might’ve made CanWest DHI history back in 2018, when they were awarded the top breed class average (BCA) for not Holsteins, but Jerseys. Nor was this the first of the farms winning ways; the year before it had won top BCA for Holsteins, and four of the five years running from 2013 to 2017 had the top BCA for Jerseys in Ontario.
Christmas was a special family tradition for Opa, said his son Phil Prinzen. His father was a very religious man who had played the organ for years at Bethany Christian Reformed Church and Christmas was a chance to celebrate family and faith. Summer picnics were also a popular excuse to get together, with Prinzen invariably to be found by the barbecue, drink in hand.
Sharing a meal was always special, whether the way for a grandkid to get out of chores or a chance for Prinzen to share his shrimp peeling technique: “Quarter turn and pull.”
Kids were great fodder for pranks. When one of the grandkids showed a loose tooth, Prinzen responded saying “look at my loose teeth,” and pulled out his dentures.
There’s certainly no shortage of grandkids: William and Betty had eight children and were up to 34 grandchildren, 57 great-grandchildren and even welcomed a great-great grandchild just four days before he died.