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Wartime Marine Engineer Officer continued service as a community volunteer

Oosterhuis challenged problems with a smile


Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

VANCOUVER, British Columbia Ė A professional volunteer, an activist on behalf of the handicapped, the elderly and ethnic minorities, an able negotiator who challenged problems with a smile or hearty laugh. This brief summary aptly describes former Netherlands Association Je Maintiendrai president Simon M. Oosterhuis who recently passed away at the age of 86. Oosterhuis operated his marine engineering firm until he recently was hospitalized for a recurring illness.

The Dutch Canadian served on numerous civic committees and boards, initiated innovative senior care facilities and housing concepts, and presided over a charterflight program that gave thousands an opportunity to visit the Netherlands for low-cost fares. Je Maintiendraiís flight program in the 1960s and the early 1970s attracted wide support from the community.

As Je Maintiendraiís president, Oosterhuis favoured cross-cultural contacts and was approachable for government officials who sought input on any number of issues concerning immigration and ethnic groups. When the charterflight program faded, and Je Maintiendraiís membership declined as a result, Oosterhuis increasingly became involved in multicultural and civic groups and was appointed to a range of committees and boards, some under government auspices.

A former Engineer Officer with WWII-time Mercantile Marine and the British Royal Navy Transport Command, Oosterhuis emigrated to Canada in 1958, leaving a managerial position with an Amsterdam marine engineering firm for a midnight shift picking garbage at the Pacific National Exhibition grounds. Soon after, he was hired by Westinghouse and by the mid 1960s formed his own marine engineering firm, designing, installing and maintaining heating and air conditioning systems.

Oosterhuis was inducted as a Knight into the Order of Orange Nassau on April 30, 1993, and was recognized by various groups with awards, service medals, honourary titles or life memberships. Previously, the Dutch government had awarded him the Netherlands War Service Medal and Stars (Bronze Cross).

At sea when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, Oosterhuis crossed the Atlantic Ocean numerous times under extremely dangerous conditions. He married Isabella Beaton in England in 1944. She preceded him in death in 1988. Oosterhuis is survived by his daughters, Ann and Doreen, and by two grandchildren.