Why Orange City: Kley De Jong and Brad De Jong
After growing up in Orange City and graduating from Maurice Orange City High School, Brad De Jong attended Northwestern College. Following his college graduation, Brad completed law school at Creighton in Omaha, Nebraska. For the past 36 years, he has called Orange City home while practicing law at Klay Law.
His son, Kley De Jong, graduated from MOC-Floyd Valley High School and attended Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. After attending Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, for law school, he moved back to his hometown and has been practicing law at Klay Law since 2015.
Klay Law is a general practice law firm that has served the northwest Iowa area for over 120 years.
Kley returning to Orange City and joining his dad at Klay Law is representative of Klay Law’s early beginnings. Gerrit Klay founded the firm, and he was joined by his son, Teunis E. “Deacon” Klay, in 1915. Then, upon returning from overseas duty after WWII, Earl T. Klay became a partner with his father in 1947.
Below, Brad and Kley provide their own perspectives on choosing careers in Orange City and what that has meant for both their professional and family lifestyles.
Why did you move to Orange City?
Brad: I had no inclination to come back to Orange City, but a lawyer in town, Loren Veldhuizen, reached out while I was at Creighton and wondered if I would have any interest in returning to Orange City and beginning work at Klay Law. In 1983, I returned to Orange City and have spent the last 36 years living and working here.
Kley: Growing up in Orange City, I purposely didn’t go to college in the area. I wanted to get out and experience something new, and I found that at Bethel. While at Drake for law school, I started to see the reality of working at a law firm. Coming back to Orange City appealed to me because of familiarity with the law firm. I remember growing up and spending Saturdays playing in the office while dad worked.
Tell us about Klay Law, where you both practice.
Kley: Klay Law is a general practice. We help anybody with just about anything.
Brad: In the legal profession, it’s hard to be a litigator and do real estate transactions, for example, but as a general practice, we provide a variety of services and meet the needs of the client.
To us, the relationship with the client is what’s important. We have clients that we have worked with for years, and you develop relationships with people.
Kley: When we go somewhere, Dad always knows everyone.
Brad: I’ve gotten to know a lot of people over the years.
Kley: The relationship comes first and then the legal services flow from that. It’s fun to follow someone through the progression and stages of a person’s life. Trust is important because legal events are some of the most extreme events in someone’s life, and we like to make sure people know that they’re taken care of.
What surprises you most about working in the legal field in Orange City?
Brad: I have been pleasantly surprised by the nature or the complexity of the legal work. The work we are doing is just as challenging and fulfilling as the work you would find at a large firm or large city.
Kley: There’s a lot of activity in Orange City because there’s a lot of business here. It’s not a dull, stagnant town.
Brad: Certainly we benefit from a vibrant community. I like a variety of things to do, and I have variety practicing law here.
As it relates to what we do in the legal field, because of the community’s moral ethos, people are more respectful and more interested in conflict resolution. I find it’s nice to work in a community like that. Most folks have a conflict resolution approach, and they appreciate what you do for them. People here are appreciative for lawyers, and we feel thanked and appreciated.
What do you most enjoy about Orange City?
Kley: The people. When I think about all the things I like about Orange City – it boils down to the people that are here. People are passionate about the community and passionate about the activities they are in. As a parent now, I see my daughter make friends and see how others are investing in her life, and I think that’s something special that the community offers.
Brad: There’s a strong desire for community here, for leaving a legacy and wanting all to prosper as opposed to just selfishness. In the community, there is the like-mindedness to make the community better for everyone. For us, family is very important too, so the family connection is important.
Kley: I was eager to get out and experience the world, and Orange City is one take on life among many. You go out and see a bit of the world, and realize that Orange City is really great. People at my stage in life start having kids or settle down here because you see that, while certainly not perfect, it’s a great place to raise a family, have a business and enjoy a variety of activities.
I never would have said we wanted to move back to a small town in northwest Iowa, but my family loves the pace of life. We walk to the grocery store or to the park. We’ve made close relationships in town, and it’s great to also have local family support. The other night we went out for supper with my grandpa, so it’s also neat to be able to see a relationship forming between him and my daughters.
What should others outside of Orange City or those considering a move to Orange City know?
Kley: I grew up here and knew Orange City, but even I had to re-acclimate. There are a lot of great activities to get involved in. I really enjoy that it’s a small community that you can really get to know people. In a big city, you see a lot of people, but you don’t get to know them. The community is very open and welcoming. My wife wasn’t from here, but they identified us and reached out to us when we moved into town. A neighbor, someone at our church or another mom at the library—we had many people welcome us.
Brad: Orange City is very welcoming if you are open to be welcomed. If you want to be a part of a community, we are open to welcoming you.