May 2, 1937 - December 8, 2018
With sadness, we announce the passing of Hennie on Saturday, December 8, 2018, after a brief illness.
Hennie was born in Amsterdam, Holland in 1937. Surviving World War II, she immigrated to Canada, arriving in Winnipeg with her parents and sister. Hennie worked a wide variety of jobs and industries, She eventually became owner / operator of ACME Design Ltd, a garment embroidery factory serving customers worldwide. Retiring in the mid-2000’s, she continued pursuing interests of family, travel, friends and living life fully.
Hennie was predeceased by her husband, George in 2015, after 54 years of marriage. Hennie is survived by her sister, Chris; sons Bryan, John and Wayne (Candace); grandchildren and great-grandchildren Amanda, Callie (Tony), Garrett, Jessica, Jaimie, Nick and Aubree, and numerous cousins in the Netherlands.
Born in 1937 in Holland, Hennie was introduced to a world of famine, stagnant economy and having very little. At age seven, WWII broke out, and for five years she witnessed many shocking things, like friends’ homes being bombed, armaments rolling down streets and soldiers going door-to-door, inspecting each home. Hard to experience, but her stories of the war are something all generations need to heed. Though a difficult memory, she freely spoke of the hardship.
For a pre-teen girl, this was a jarring reality. Yet, she recalled her childhood in a very positive light. That was Hennie. Despite the bad, she always found the good, was positive and upbeat, and forged ahead with life.
In 1953, her parents and sister were given opportunity to leave a - slowly recovering - Holland, for a new life in Canada. Landing in Montreal, they boarded a cross-Canada train, with permission to settle anywhere they chose. In her sister’s words,
“after 3 miserable days of travel, they decided Winnipeg was far enough”
As a heavy equipment mechanic, her Dad was selected to work in a northern mine. The family wanted to remain in Winnipeg, so he searched and found work with the City of Winnipeg. His job: fixing lawn mowers, trucks, machinery and – of course – lots of snow removal equipment!
Hennie, with limited education and no knowledge of English, went to work to support her family. She worked odd jobs in businesses, restaurants and garment factories. Winnipeg had a large garment industry, and Hennie found a career, working for many large and small companies in many different roles.
She met her future husband, George, in 1960, married in 1961, and had their first son in 1963. Second and third sons arrived in 1965 and 1967; both worked very long, hard days to support the new, growing family. Living in the “west end”, they routinely renovated the home to accommodate changing needs.
Hennie and George insisted on family travel, from day-trips around Manitoba and Ontario, to weekly camping trips in the US, to 3 and 4-week car trips to places like Colorado. Hennie loved mountains and rugged western plains. Her love of travel endured the rest of her life, travelling across North America, and returning to Europe often.
In 1982, Hennie was given a career opportunity to assume a sales role with a fledgling new company, ACME Design. She embraced the new role, and quickly assumed most operational aspects of the company. In 1987, the founder, Joe, unexpectedly passed away. Hennie was given the opportunity to purchase the company. Despite the extreme cost, and daunting thought of being the “owner”, she was fiercely loyal to her staff, customers and vendors – knowing they would be without, should the company fail. She purchased the company and lived on very little for several years thereafter.
Her loyalty is legendary. Right or wrong, if she was in your corner, she would defend and assist you to the maximum extent. To her last days, she fought for her causes in a candid and unwavering manner.
Hennie also was not afraid to take chances, learn new things, and adopt technologies, even if she herself may not understand them. In the 80’s she realized computerization was essential to the future, purchasing the first pc for accounting and word processing. Later she adopted automated sewing systems worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, digital equipment for art processing and cutting materials. At home, Hennie strived to learn and grow her knowledge of computers. She relied heavily on technology to maintain all her communications with people near and far.
Hennie also made strong bonds with her staff, clients, vendors and even her direct competitors. To the last days, she routinely discussed John, Carey, Anna, Mary-Catherine, Jüergen, Louise, Linda and so many more.
Her family was always her top priority, regardless what else was happening. She always discussed her parents, sister, sons, husband, family trips and goals with everyone. She also was adamant that every birthday, Christmas, graduation and special event be attended and celebrated. One of her son’s birthdate was near Christmas; she insistently segregated dates with separate cards, parties, gifts, etc.
Hennie retired in the mid-2000’s, but that did not slow her down at all. She continued travels to the US, Holland, and across Canada. She lived life to her style, and made few concessions. Her years were very fulfilling, to the very last day. Our family in Holland is extensive and stayed in contact regularly. Hennie and George greatly appreciated their Dutch roots, and the family and friendships there. Considering the rough life each had in their youth, the bond that still exists speaks volumes.
During her working and retirement years, she witnessed the passing of her Mom, and a few years later, her Dad. Her parents were her guide, teaching her a strong work ethic and encouraging her ambitions. Her Dad was an especially strong pillar in her life; his passing was extremely hard for her. But, again, she forged ahead.
She also saw the family grow with five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. She made time for them all, followed all their lives and interests, and fostered those interests however she could. She had very strong bonds with family members; managing business affairs for one of her sons, and being in daily contact with most others. Visiting her was always fun, she loved to feed and host family.
In 2010, Hennie and George moved from their home, to Cornerstone Estates. They found community and friendship, and quality of life. This meant less grass to cut, or snow to clear, allowing more time for family, travel and relaxation.
In 2015 Hennie lost her husband. Despite losing her best friend, she again picked up and forged on with life. The Cornerstone community helped her though the event and her grandchildren all became a much larger part of her world. Now able to drive, graduate, have careers, marry, have great grandchildren, Hennie was both aided and motivated by all the change.
In 2017, she made a dream trip come true: driving to Colorado with her son. At that time, her health was somewhat impaired, so the thought of major travel was seemingly unrealistic. Yet, she again forged ahead and made the trek. Realizing it was unlikely, she still talked about travel to Holland and elsewhere too.
The greatest gift Hennie gave her children and grandchildren was teaching a strong sense of independence, solid work ethic, integrity and support.
Her final hours went very fast. She was able to speak with, and be surrounded by, her family. Without suffering, she completed her journey peacefully Saturday, December 8, 2018.
The family wishes to extend a sincere thank-you to the staff of Seven Oaks Hospital and Cancer Care MB.
At Hennie’s request, there will be no formal service or flowers requested. Donations in her memory may be made to Cancer Care Manitoba.
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