Jan (Jaan) Ferdinand Jouke Boersma (1943-2020)

Jaan Boersma was dux of the Launceston Technical High School in 1959, gaining eight credits from all eight subjects which  provided a springboard for his distinguished career.

Jaan, as an eight year old, arrived in Tasmania from Holland with his parents and siblings. Here he completed his primary school education at the Cormiston Road State School which was located near the family home in Riverside, Launceston.

In 1956 he gained entry to the Launceston Technical High School and immediately stood out as an outstanding scholar, achieving dux of his year from 1956-1959 inclusive

In the last 2 years of his LTHS education, he was a school prefect.

After five years at Tech, he gained entry to the University of Tasmania, Hobart and at the end of his course obtained a teaching position at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education at Hobart, later moving to their Launceston campus.

From there he moved to the University of New South Wales at Sydney teaching Physics and a side-line subject, Philosophy in Religion.

He was the winner of the first Tasmanian Science Talent Quest in 1959, an award which he valued.

Jaan had numerous interests, including astronomy, and built his own telescope, which involved grinding its lenses. He fitted a camera to the scope and produced enlarged photos of the moon and other objects. The telescope is now on display at the Inveresk Museum, Planetarium section.

The late 1950s was a time when satellites were being launched into orbit. It stirred Jaan’s interest in rocketry and he began making models at home and during hobby hour at school. He experimented with fuel to power their launch. A number blew up but finally using a mixture of zinc dust and sulphur, with baby powder mixed in to slow the burn, success was achieved. Memories are still held of seeing the metal pipe rocket rising high into the air, turn towards the centre of town, then disappearing out of sight. The school authorities then quickly banned the activity. About three years later the casing was found on the roof of the then Coles building on the corner of Brisbane and Chares streets

Jaan was also an active participant in the conservation movement.

He enjoyed Australian folk dancing and maintained strong church connections throughout his life.

The cover of the order of service for Jaan’s funeral in Sydney, Australia in February 2020
Jan (Jaan) Ferdinand Jouke BOERSMA (27/03/1943 – 19/02/2020)

1 thought on “Jan (Jaan) Ferdinand Jouke Boersma (1943-2020)

  1. Melissa Solomon

    Thank you for posting this information about Jaan. He was an amazing man and it was a privilege to have known him. I miss him dearly.


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