GC pioneer Verkamp<br>dies at age 84

John George "Jack" Verkamp II, who developed a thriving souvenir store on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, died March 18, 2001. He was 84.

Verkamp took over the store founded in 1906 by his father, John George Verkamp, 13 years before Grand Canyon National Park was established.

Under his entrepreneurship, the operation grew from a small business selling postcards, film and souvenirs to a premier Indian arts and crafts store.

He co-managed the store with his sister, Margaret "Peggy" Verkamp, and retired after 55 years of building the business.

Verkamp was born June 13, 1916, in San Diego, Calif. He lived with his father and mother, Catherine Wolfe Verkamp, and his other two sisters, Janet and Catherine "Katie" in Flagstaff.

In 1936 the family moved to Grand Canyon to run the store.

Verkamp was known for being community-minded and led major fundraising drives for the construction of an interfaith chapel at the Canyon and for the March of Dimes fight against polio.

He also donated energy, funds and merchandise to Grand Canyon School events.

He was an avid sports booster and helped build a shower facility for early Grand Canyon High School six-man football teams.

Verkamp was a member of the Grand Canyon School Board, the American Legion and the Knights of Columbus.

Verkamp loved to hunt deer, antelope and elk. He also enjoyed bowling.

One of Verkamp’s major accomplishments was the construction of the Shrine of the Ages chapel located near the old visitor center.

He worked with former Sen. Barry Goldwater to raise funding for the chapel that serves visitors of all religious faiths.

He was preceded in death by his parents, sisters, first wife, Mary O’Leary Verkamp, and a grandson.

Survivors include his wife, Betty; his children, John, Michael, Stephen, Susan, Jane "Boo" Pritchett, Kelly Martinez and Lisa Moffitt; 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Shrine of the Ages.

Memorial donations may be sent to the Northland Family Help Center in Flagstaff.


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