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Haarlem-born emigrant funeral director succumbed at age 106

Left the Netherlands for Nederland


Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

EDMOND, Oklahoma It will be 105 years ago this year that Peter John Ruysenaars and his wife Theodora Roozen left Haarlem, the Netherlands, for the small Dutch settlement of Nederland, Texas. The Ruysenaars raised a family of nine, including Wilhelmina, who was one year old, when they emigrated to the U.S.A. The young emigrant died on January 1, 2010, aged 106.

Nicknamed Billie, she earned a Registered Nursing degree in 1925, and married funeral director Joe A. Edwards in 1930. After her husband purchased the Oakley-Metcalf Funeral Home in Woodville, Texas, Billie obtained her funeral director's license as well. She worked alongside her husband until his death in 1983.

The Edwards were founding members of the St. Lawrence Catholic Church of Woodville. Billie received many honours for her dedicated service in the Beaumont Diocese.

Wilhelmina Ruysenaars Edwards was predeceased by four sisters and three brothers. She is survived her daughter Phyllis E. Oppel and her husband Richard, and her grandchildren, as well as her sister, Dora R. Brammer Smith who is in her 90s; and many nieces, nephews and their children.