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Years fly by for busy centenarian Dutch-born widows

Keeping active a recurring theme

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HAMBURG, New Jersey - As a young mother, Sietje Cornelia (Katje or Kee) Hof (Van der Stad) put her babies in a wooden crate when she went into the fields to work. At the age of 47, she and her husband Hendrik and two daughters left the Netherlands for New Jersey in 1948, as so many other ‘islanders’ had done before them since the 1860s. She preferred a quiet life with her family and lived with her younger sister Klaartje de Waal, ten years her junior, at the time of her death, fourteen days short of her 111th birthday, as a supercentennarian.

Perhaps the oldest postwar-Dutch immigrant in North America, Hof, who was widowed in 1988 when her husband Hendrik died after their marriage of 62 years, remained active and visited Canada when she was 101. She paid numerous return visits to her hometown of Melissant, on the former twin island of Goeree-Overflakkee.

Hof was known for her crocheting skills, making beautiful hankies for just about everyone in the family. She created special ones for those getting married and could carry on a conversation and not even look at her work as she crocheted.

Hof, who outlived her two daughters, died at home with family by her side. She is survived by grandchildren, many greatgrandchildren and greatgreatgrandchildren and two sisters in New Jersey.

She is tentatively listed as one of the Dutch-born people who lived longest. Going by the list, Hof may be ranked as the country’s fifteenth or sixteenth oldest ever.

Family Page obituary records at The Windmill Herald indicate that the oldest reported Dutch in North America reached the age of 108.


Three weeks earlier, another postwar Dutch immigrant, Grace Dyksterhuis celebrated her 107th birthday at the Guelph, Ontario Reformed Church. Born into a family of nine on December 5, 1904, Dyksterhuis arrived in Canada, the same year the Hofs settled in New Jersey.

Dyksterhuis and her husband settled in the Harriston, Ontario area where they farmed for fifty of their 66 years of married life. “It was hard to come to Canada,” she explained to a reporter recently. “We spoke no English. The money was different, the food at the store was different, everything was new. But Harriston was a nice community to live in.”

In Florida, Wilhelmina Hoorn celebrated her 108th birthday on November 6. She may well be the oldest Dutch immigrant in North America, and has been a widow for over sixty years and earned a living as a seamstress. A video clip online features her celebrating her 107th birthday in the presence of her three daughters, other family and friends, even doing some steps on the dance floor with people many years her junior.

She moved away from Long Island to Florida after she retired from her job in 1970 but continued to excel doing volunteer work in her new Florida hometown, logging thousands of hours.

She and her family immigrated in 1929.

The Windmill Herald’s Family Page regularly lists birthdays of people celebrating 100 or more years. This issue lists four such birthdays. An issue earlier there were several listed who died age 100 and over, the oldest at 106.