38. Neal Berghoef (1922- )
Born April 20, 1922 in the
Netherlands, Neal Berghoef lived in the city of Gouda before moving north to the quaint
city of Franeker in the Province of Friesland in the Netherlands. He emigrated under the
refugee act of WW Two, along with his wife Ann and four children, from the Netherlands on
August 4, 1956, arriving by ship ten days later in New York, NY.
Berghoef lived near two brothers in Grand Rapids, MI for a
year (1956-1957) where he spent time learning the English language. As a thirty-four year
old immigrant he had experience working with furniture as a supervisor and plant manager.
At first he worked for Bergs Brothers in Grand Rapids, and then as a product engineer for
Baker Furniture in Holland, MI. He worked hard and long, adapted, and tried to assimilate
into the culture without completely losing touch of his past. With only a little secondary
education in the Netherlands, Neal eventually received his high school diploma in the
United States. He retired from Baker Furniture as Manager of Operations in 1986.
First appointed to the city council in 1983, he was elected
mayor in 1989. While mayor, and as an immigrant, he felt for other immigrant communities.
His goals were to embrace global diversity, support strong families, and encourage
In addition, he is credited with improvements made at the Van Raalte Farm.
Mayors of Holland Home