- 85 years old
- Date of birth: Aug 17, 1930
- Place of birth:
- Date of passing: Feb 18, 2016
- Place of passing:
Huntsville, ON, Canada
|Sic transit gloria mundi|
After enjoying a remarkable life filled with love, adventure, families and dear friends, we are sad to note the passing of Bill [William] van Stijgeren.
Born in Holland to Elizabeth [nee Blokker] and Mars, Bill was one of a close and energetic family with 5 boys, Jan, Gijs, Dirk, Cees and 2 girls, Odine and Liesbeth. At 18 he sailed to Mexico to join his father, who was an Agricultural Attaché to the Mexican government. Moving from Mexico to the US and eventually Canada, Bill had many adventures and careers, among them cowboy, silver miner, bellhop, property manager, commercial real estate broker, and for 30 years the owner and operator of the Gryffin Lodge in Huntsville, ON with his wife Shelby Hornby.
Growing up by the sea, he had always wanted to be in the navy, but had vision issues that prohibited this. Bill co/owned many boats over the years, including the freighter SS Tropic Sea, the schooners Maya and Jupiter and a fleet of smaller boats.
Throughout his life Bill loved and was loved by many, and his descendants - daughters Caprice, Kim, Nikki, son Ian and grandchildren Brittany, Leigh and Mic - will carry on his fearless and convivial spirit, and hopefully his gift of languages, through the next generations.
Many thanks to the Palliative care team, and dear family and friends who all helped Bill enjoy his last few months. A celebration of his life will be held in May. We expect laughter, tears, mariachi music and a few good stories.
"The first memory of Wim was in Bussum. He was magic to me. We lived in a very hostile environment due to my father (Wim's stepfather] and when Wim would come the entire atmosphere changed radically. He was like a movie star to us...otherworldly. Wim would entertain and charm us. At dinner he would turn the chair around, straddle it, and say all Canadians ate like this. And I believed him. He would play the Mariachi music and translate the entire album for me. We were a family who often did not talk, and this man - my brother Wim - would sit and smoke his pipe, act out the Mariachi music and I was fascinated by him. He was unique....well loved by all of us. We looked up to him. He was a light - an adventurous hero who guaranteed a calm, conflict free family time.
I remember his lust for life - you'd think he was just getting up in the morning, but he'd actually be just coming home from a night of revelry. There has never been a man who's had that much impact on a child's life, one who could live life to the fullest. He had so much impact on us all.
As an adult, when I was in China, I was putting my thoughts on paper regarding how new and completely different the Chinese culture was to me. Wim was the one who reached out to me and said "Liesbeth, keep writing - this is fascinating". He encouraged me immensely.
At the end of his life Wim would phone me regularly and every time he would tell me how he still had my letters from China and talked about mailing them to me. It seemed when we talked, this would be new to him and he would repeat this as if it were a new conversation - and it was just so kind, that with all of these health issues, knowing that this was the end - that he would take the time to call, encourage me and let me know that I did well with my writing about China.
I hope that when I reach the end of my life, that I can be like Wim...accepting that my life was good, don't cry over it being the end, and spend time with me now. I want to be gracious, calm and be accepting of who I am with no hesitation. Wim was a role model. He was truly interested in people. When we left in December, knowing it would be our last time with him - that was a moment that you never forget. He got up, sang his Mariachi song and did a few dance steps...to make it easier to leave. To make it easier for us to say goodbye. What more can you expect from a brother. I loved my brother."
"My! What a great guy!! with so many accomplished exploits. We will miss him when we rented many, many times Cottage 1872, where he never-ever missed an evening with a visit to us ... and ... with all his great stories from "A to Z!!!." And in conjunction with all of that ... Bill and Shelby ran such a pristine and up-scale splendid resort, that now we have to go to the ahhh Tulip Inn. So ..Our Condolences to Shelby and all other family members. Therefore... With our fondess and love Mike & Carolyn Gossage, Toronto, and may Sir William R.I.P"
"Your dad was great guy, took us in to your family's home when we came to Canada as 18 year old made us feel very welcome .
Condolence Kim and Caprice and the rest of the family.
My he rest in peace ."
"You have many people in your life and friends. But only one dad. It sounds like he lived and loved a full life. I hope his joy and adventure will continue in you- as it has already. Glad I got to meet him at your birthday party.
Love, Wilma Snippe"
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