John Lamberts Obituary

John  Lamberts
John Lamberts
John Lamberts

May 11, 1915 - May 26, 2010
Born in Latvia
Resided in Des Moines, IA
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A man of extreme strength and a courageous heart left this world, Wednesday, May 26 at Mercy Hospice, Johnston. John Lamberts was born in Latvia, on May 11, 1915. The challenges began in earnest with WWII, when the Nazis and the Russians rode roughshod back and forth over the country, sending ten's of thousands to concentration camps and executing thousands more. In 1945 John decided he had to escape. John, his wife Amanda and one year old son, Harald, fled to Sweden by row boat. But Sweden was too close to the Soviet Union threat, so he assembled 25 other refugees and with a new son Arnis, bought a 64 ft, 50 year old sailboat with the intention of sailing to Capetown South Africa. Mid Atlantic they encountered a hurricane that blew the small boat far off course and then the decision was made to try to sail to Canada. They got as far as Boston, out of food and water, they stopped and asked for permission to stay. Not having proper papers nor visas, President Truman proclaimed that all efforts would be made to allow the refugees to stay. Then Senator John Kennedy, along with others introduced bills into Congress to allow the refugees to apply for citizenships.

In December 1948, Harry Downs of Greene, Iowa, sponsored the Lamberts family and thus the connection to Iowa began. In 1950 they moved to Des Moines and more opportunities were available. After working at Paul Manning Chevrolet as a body repairman for three years, John opened his own auto body repair shop in Urbandale. Urbandale Auto Body Service, located at 3833 70th Street, Urbandale is still a family business to this day.

In 1970, John decided to expand by selling new cars. He acquired the Italian car Fiat franchise first, followed by SAAB, BMW and finally Subaru. The 21% interest rates of the early 80's was devastating to business and the franchises were sold to other area dealers. All during these years John was focused on giving back a hundred fold, to those who needed help to reach freedom, because others had helped him. He sponsored refugee families from Latvia and more recently refugees from war torn Viet Nam. He worked diligently for the freedom of the Baltic countries. Presidents and Congressmen knew him by name. Once Latvia achieved freedom from the Soviet Union, the work was just beginning. The country had been plundered. Hospitals and clinics had no medical supplies nor medicines. John gathered box after box of the needed supplies, at home, until he had a truck load, where upon he would send it off to Latvia. Dozens of semi loads of humanitarian aid were sent.

Once retired from the dealership, John spent all his efforts helping others.

John is survived by his two sons, Arnie (Lucille) Lamberts and Harald (Janet) Lamberts of Urbandale: grandson, Ryan Lamberts and grandchildren, Robert and Alexis Lillig. He was preceded in death by his wife Amanda in 2003 and a granddaughter, Leslie Lillig.

Funeral services will be 11:00 AM, Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at Iles Funeral Home-Westover Chapel. Family will meet with friends one hour prior to the service at the funeral home. Burial will be at Oralabor Cemetery in Ankeny.

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Westover Funeral Home
6337 Hickman Road
Des Moines, IA US 50322
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Westover Funeral Home
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
11:00 AM
Oralabor Cemetery
Ankeny, IA US 50021
Wednesday, June 2, 2010