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Bert Boonstra

01-03-193724-05-2020
      In Loving Memory of Bert Boonstra
      01-03-1937 ~ 24-05-2020

      Bert Boonstra of Wassenaar, The Netherlands, died unexpectedly on May 24, 2020 at the age of 83, after an acute illness resulting in multisystem organ failure. He passed quickly and peacefully surrounded by his loving family.

      Bert was born in Tzummarum, Friesland on March 1, 1937. Despite a difficult birth, he became the oldest of four siblings. Growing up, during wartime, in a small rural village (now a ghost town), his parents owned and operated a local store. On cold winter days, he would skate to the regional secondary school. He and his friends would jump canals, hunt for bird eggs, and pluck apples from farmers’ trees.

      In 1952, Bert and his family boarded the S.S. Ryndam for a new life in America. As a 15 year old, newly arrived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Bert went to work for his family. He worked a series of odd jobs as a farm hand, a stock boy, and a grocery clerk. Once he’d learned the language, he took correspondence courses to earn his high school equivalency diploma.

      In 1956, Bert began attending Calvin College. It was there, in 1958, that he met the love of his life, Jane D. Horzelenberg of Hamilton, Ontario (originally of Rotterdam). They became engaged in 1960, at his spontaneous suggestion they purchase rings as they walked by a jewelry store.

      After a long distance relationship, while Bert pursued a Master’s degree in Theology (with a ministerial license) at V.U. Amsterdam, Bert returned to Hamilton to marry Jane on September 1, 1962. For their honeymoon they boarded a student ship back to Amsterdam. He was seasick the entire voyage.

      Soon after returning to Holland, Jane was hired as a teacher at the Dupont School in Dordrecht. Bert continued his studies in Philosophy of History towards a doctorate (for the next 9 years!) while minding their two children, Peter and Allison. In his “spare time,” he wrote sermons and filled empty pulpits around the Netherlands on weekends.

      Bert’s calling was to become a minister. At first, he pursued a career as a Christian clergyman. Later, he put his energy towards becoming an administrator in the field of education. His approach to leadership was to encourage and support from within as a facilitator and mentor.

      In 1972, Bert began his career at The American School of the Hague. Spanning many years in multiple roles, including Dutch teacher (for which he wrote his own textbook), MS social studies teacher, Head of Arts Department, Director of Transportation, and Middle School Principal. In the late 1980’s he was also very involved with the building project of ASH's new campus in Wassenaar.

      He was an active and integral part of ASH in every role. Besides being a teacher and administrator, he is remembered by students mostly as their Scramble Overseer and Ski Trip Organizer. Over the years, Bert and Jane organized and supervised twenty-one (Yes, 21!) ASH ski trips to Austria and Switzerland for ASH middle and high school students.

      After 26 years of service, Bert retired from ASH in 1998. Jane joined him.

      The Boonstra's enjoyed traveling and spent their summers alternating between visits to family in North America and extensive European travel by caravan. There were countless kilometers by car, all driven by Bert. Christmas was usually spent in the Alps, as the family loved skiing so much. Bert developed his own style on the slopes; tall and upright, listing slightly to turn, letting gravity do most of the work. He enjoyed skiing well into his seventies.

      In retirement, Bert and Jane began migrating seasonally between Holland and Boston to participate in both their children’s lives and spend time with growing grandchildren. They enjoyed gathering the family together for summer holidays in Southern Europe.

      Up until the day of his illness, Bert led an active life. He had many hobbies and interests, including reading, art, travel, cooking, and trading on eBay. Bert was an avid collector of stamp covers and a self-professed expert in US postal history, focusing on the 1901 World's Fair in Buffalo. He was also active as an elder in the local Wassenaar Protestant church.

      Bert was a lover of life; personable, approachable, and kind hearted. He was a true man of the people. He had a goofy and mischievous sense of humor, accompanied by an infectious laugh. He was generous with his time and his resources. He especially loved doting on (spoiling) his four grandchildren.

      As his family we feel blessed and deeply grateful to have had Bert as our husband, father, and Opa. We were completely unprepared to say goodbye, yet his passing was peaceful. He will be greatly missed, though we trust he is safe in God’s hands.


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      • My mother's condolences.
        reactie 31   |   niet OK
        News about Bert's passing away reached my mother, Karen Coster, quite late. She was admitted to a care home on April 22nd. She has had no access to e-mail for quite a while.
        Once the news reached her she was very saddened. She worked with Bert at the ASH and has very deep and fond memories of him. She wants to convey her sadness and wishes the family all the strength in these trying times.

        Karen - Den Haag
        10 september 2020

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      • Patrick Foley Berlin Germany
        reactie 30   |   niet OK
        I want to express my sadness and respect for Bert Boonstra upon his passing.

        As the middle school counselor from 1976 to 1989, Bert and I worked on numerous projects both serious and fun. He always had a joke or statement that would turn a frown into a smile or a joke into a series of laughs.

        I knew him best as the bus coordinator where we worked through some very crazy situations with students, parents and administrators.

        Bert worked for the betterment of ASH for both students and staff. He had a strong sense of justice that led Bert, along with a hand full of others, on a path to shared decision making at ASH that required blood, sweat and tears but finally triumphed.

        So many other stories to tell but they will remain with me to cherish as a tribute to our shared values and camaraderie. I will be thinking of Bert with a smile on his face; as I remember my last visit with him at an ASH reunion in April 2019

        My condolences to Jane. I hope that she finds herself among a strong support group of friends and ASH staff.

        Patrick Foley - Berlin

        Patrick - Leberstr. 7, 10829 Berlin, Germany
        11 juni 2020

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      • Lynn Klocke
        Er is een reactie aan de nabestaanden achtergelaten door:
        Lynn - Wassenaar
        5 juni 2020
        reactie 29
      • John Heard
        Er is een reactie aan de nabestaanden achtergelaten door:
        John - Naples
        5 juni 2020
        reactie 28
      • Persoonlijke reactie...
        reactie 27   |   niet OK
        Lieve Jane en verdere familie,
        In de 'Wassenaarse Krant' van 3 juni 2020 lazen wij dat Bert op 24 mei is overleden. Middels deze willen wij jullie van harte condoleren met dit grote verlies.
        De beschrijving in de advertentie laat weinig aan de verbeelding over: zijn hele leven actief en betrokken en hij heeft bepaald niet stil gezeten ! Wij begrijpen dat jullie hem heel snel afscheid van hem hebben moeten nemen. Dat maakt het voor diegenen die achterblijven - voor jullie dus - extra hard.
        Wij willen jullie heel veel sterkte wensen.
        Hartelijke groet, Marian & Aad de Boer.

        Marian & Aad - Prof.Molenaarlaan 26, 2241 RC Wassenaar
        4 juni 2020

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      • Our sincerest sympathy
        reactie 26   |   niet OK
        Dear Jane and family,
        We are so sad to hear of Bert’s passing. We have so many good memories of a colleague and a friend. We are holding you in our thoughts. Love, Jim and Bettie Liebzeit

        Jim and Bettie - Hendersonville, North Carolina
        4 juni 2020

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      • Michael Holt
        Er is een reactie aan de nabestaanden achtergelaten door:
        Michael - Columbia, MD
        3 juni 2020
        reactie 25
      • For mr. Boonstra’s loved ones
        reactie 24   |   niet OK
        So very sad and shocked to hear of mr. Boonstra’s passing. I remember him all too well, have such fond memories. And mrs. Boonstra was one of the best teachers I ever had. Both Bert and Jane made such a profound impact during my childhood years, I have never forgotten you and thank you from the bottom of my heart for this. 💛

        Dear Boonstra family, sending you my heart felt condolences and much love during this incredibly difficult time.

        Warmly, Monique de Vries

        Monique - Singapore, Den Haag
        3 juni 2020

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      • Lieve Jane, Allison en Justine
        reactie 23   |   niet OK
        Ruim twintig jaar geleden heb ik Bert leren kennen toen hij op de asielzoekers school kwam kijken of ik geschikt was voor het onderwijs in Nederlands als tweede taal.
        Met heel veel plezier heb ik daar gewerkt en jullie allemaal leren kennen. Het was dan ook een schok toen ik hoorde dat Bert was overleden vorige week en ik wil jullie heel veel sterkte wensen met dit grote verlies.

        Connie - Den Haag
        2 juni 2020

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      • Sincerest condolences
        reactie 22   |   niet OK
        Dear Jane, Allison and Peter,
        None of you will remember me but I remember Bert. I was on the board of ASH way back when Bert was head of the middle school. He was a great principal and cared about his students. He was firm, yet empathetic. In board meetings, he was always short and sweet-not wasting time with problems that weren't really there. I wish you all solace in the wonderful memories you have and know that my wife Renee and my thoughts are with you at this saddest of times.
        Sincerest personal regards,
        Bob Drake

        Robert - Wassenaar
        1 juni 2020

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