OBITUARY

Tryntje Reinsma

September 8, 1925October 19, 2018
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Tryni Reinsma was born to Klaas and Trijntje Romkes on September 8, 1925, in Andijk, North Holland—a fishing town in the shadow of a looming dike that held back what was then known as the Zuider Zee. After eight years of grade school, she began to work at the Reinsma Winkel, their grocery store, alongside a young man named Mins. Having survived the Great Depression and World War II, Mins and Tryni married in 1947. Three years later, they sought out their future in the United States. After several years in New Holland, South Dakota—where she learned to read English by puzzling her way through Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind—they moved to Independence, Missouri. There Mins learned the jewelry trade, while Tryni raised two children, Luke and his sister Barbara, in a 23-foot trailer tucked into an apple orchard, thanks to the good will and generosity of a Mormon family. Missing the smell of salt water and the sound of waves, they wrote to Christian Reformed congregations on both coasts. It was Reverend Peter DeJong who invited them to join the Seattle CRC in 1954. While Mins worked at Phil’s Jewelry in Ballard, Tryni baked countless loaves of bread for Luke and Barbara, then Clarence, and finally Teresa—which the kids happily traded for Wonderbread during lunch break at Watson Groen Christian School. During the summers, the family hiked for weeks on end, Tryni having sewn tent and packs for the six of them. Long before the advent of dehydrated food, she made pancakes in a cast-iron skillet over open fires. Together, they hiked around Mt. Rainier, across the Olympic Peninsula, and along much of Washington’s Pacific Crest Trail; in later years, Mins and Tryni’s travels took them on trails that wound their way through Nepal, England, the Pyrenees, Switzerland, Africa, and New Zealand. Quiet and private, Tryni was also hard-working, reliable, stoic, and tough—values that she imparted to her children as well: Luke, a professor; Barbara, a psychologist; Clarence, a craftsman; and Teresa, a professor of English in Taiwan. Tryni loved good books, often devouring several a week. She loved her flowers. She loved the mountains, walking in the snow, sunset, sunrise. She loved her husband. She loved her children and grandchildren: Luke and Barbara (Feikens) Reinsma, Nat and Marika; John and Barbara Ottenhoff, Samuel and Chloe; Clarence and Lisa (Pitstick) Reinsma, Micah, Hanna, Grace, Emma, Peter, and Rachel, and her great-granddaughter Addie; and Teresa. And she loved the Lord. Having lived a life of daily devotion and Christian practice, Tryni Reinsma died in peace on Friday, October 19, 2018, comforted by the certainty that she had already been welcomed into our father's and our Father’s embrace. She was 93.

A Eulogy for Tryne (Romkes) Reinsma

In Chinese culture, when a person dies after the age of eighty, the funeral becomes one of celebration rather than one of mourning because it is considered very lucky to have reached that many years.

After my father died my mother was extremely sad—so one of the things we did a couple of times every summer was make a list of how lucky she was. I would put in some items and Mom would add more. By the last summer we had quite a list, and I would like to share some of these with you today.

She grew up in a wonderfully tight knit family and had a good life in her small village. She loved her family very much, and her sisters meant the world to her.

Everyone in her family survived the Nazi occupation of Holland, extremely lucky in so many ways.

Everyone in her family survived The Hunger Winter because they were in the countryside rather than a big city, and food was much easier to find.

Her future husband avoided being conscripted by the German army for almost two years. If he had been caught, he would certainly have been turned into cannon fodder and none of the Reinsmas would be here today.

My parents’ first choice for a country to immigrate was South Africa. They were denied entrance because new immigrants needed a marketable skill, and the South African government did not consider running a grocery store as a skill. If they had succeeded in getting to their first choice, they would have lived in South Africa during the worst of the apartheid and their children would have accepted that as the norm rather than the intrinsic evil it was. And all of us would have really stupid accents. Very, very lucky.

They were just as lucky to find people generous enough to sponsor them to come to America—how many of us would take the responsibility for supporting complete strangers who want to immigrate to our country?

By twist and fate of circumstances they ended up in Seattle and everything came together here.

They discovered the joy of hiking in the mountains before most other people did, and we had the trails, the mountains, the streams, meadows, and rivers almost all to ourselves for decades. To really experience the luck of this, take a walk up Mt. Dickerman on any day of the week and see the hordes coming up and down.

She had a wonderful man in her life who shared all of her interests including her deep love of reading, travelling the world, and hiking in the mountains. She was lucky to have four healthy children who were all extremely devoted to her and loved her very much.

She made great friends in the Mountaineers and this community meant a great deal to her.

My mother also loved her church and the church community. I think many people would think otherwise by the way she rushed out of church every Sunday, but this community did mean so much to her. She was concerned about her fellow members and very concerned about the future of the church. Even when she wasn’t feeling well, she would make every effort she could to come here every Sunday because her week would have felt incomplete without it.

So, I hope that we can celebrate this amazing, wonderful, and very much loved woman today, and my deepest wish is that you can take some of this luck with you when you leave today.

* Teresa Reinsma

January 12, 2019

A Eulogy for Tryne (Romkes) Reinsma

A few days ago I was forced to ask myself why I was having so much trouble writing this simple eulogy. I had thought about it since the day of my mother’s death, but I still wasn’t writing it.

It finally occurred to me that my mother would have hated my doing this if she were alive and present. Her children talking about HER. A gathering to celebrate HER life. She disliked more than almost anything being talked about and she hated being the center of attention.

She made sure to slip under the radar, stay at the edges, not say, not speak, not offer her opinions. We say of some people . . . He/she is a private person. My mother was deeply private, also self-contained, self-sufficient, self-reliant. A woman of few words. But she was also quick to laugh and had a very good eye for the ironic. She was, as well, a woman with a generous heart. So maybe this is all right.

A very private person. We all would have liked to hear more from her – mostly because what she did say was wise, interesting, never trivial.

As a mother, she gave her children a remarkably free hand in shaping our own lives. Yes, she expected decent behavior, timeliness, orderliness, generosity, but she simply expected these things of us as she did herself. They went without saying.

She never in my experience harangued us or yelled at us (that is, once we were past the age of 5 or so). She never said to me, Do you want to be a teacher or a nurse? She never came back from a teacher-parent conference and told me I was very bright but could work harder. My future choices were my business and my school performance was also my business.

There is a theme emerging. Her own behavior, her opinions, her point of view, her desires, wishes, and hopes were her business. Not anyone else’s. And the way she accomplished this, for the most part, was to not share those, but simply make them happen. She didn’t need the approval of others. She stayed in her lane. She expected others to do so too.

When she was graduating the eighth grade in her small village of Andyk, her father asked the high school principal over to the house and wondered if he should send Tryne to high school. High school would cost – not much – but some. The principal’s response was That would be a waste for a girl.

On the one hand, such a waste of potential. But on the other hand, my mother (not complaining) took up her own education by reading constantly, probably an average of 2 books a week from the time she could read to her last week of life at 93. She read history, biography, fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, detective novels, travel books, how-to books, memoirs, autobiographies. She had only an eighth-grade education but was an astute reader who knew the difference between excellence and mediocrity. She also read the Bible and the devotional every day, every day of the week. Jeopardy was a great favorite of hers, even when she could no longer see the television screen, and she was very, very good at it.

She accepted, it seems without protest, the limitations placed on her as a daughter of a poor farmer in a small village in the Netherlands, as a young immigrant woman, as a mother and wife in this Calvinist community, not a native speaker, with little formal education, living on the edge of the western United States.

But she embraced the challenge wholeheartedly.

The war years in Holland were horrible, as she said, but also exciting. Something was finally happening. Outwitting the occupying forces of Germany was a full-village project, and she loved the adventure. She loved a challenge.

She had tremendous confidence in herself in many ways. Driving not being one of them having only learned to do so at the age of 50. Hating taking left turns, she found she could eventually get anywhere she wanted with only right turns. But she knew what the weather would be. She knew how to get flowers to bloom and tomatoes to ripen. She knew directions. She knew the trails, and mountains, rivers and streams of the Cascades. She could stand on a mountain pass and name each and every one of the peaks in the horizon. When my father would say – the trail is this way – we knew to stay right where we were until my mother started going that way.

While she was able, she seemed to feel that if a job needed to be done, it naturally followed that she would be able to do it. A cord of wood needed chopping. Chop she did. House needed painting. Paint she did. Clothes to be made. Well, yes.

Dresses and even 2-piece suits made from rummage sale goods. Budgets stretched to the breaking point, yes to that too. Haircuts? Buzz for the boys and bowl cuts for the girls. Bags for hiking packs and an A-frame tent? Yes, to that too.

She truly enjoyed her ingenuity, and she always loved saving a buck. On our rare shopping trips together, my sister and I would pass up dress after dress, sweater after sweater, with “Mom could make that.” And she could.

If it needed to be done, she expected that she should be able to do it.

Lawn needed to be mowed. Yes. We had a push mower from the time my parents bought our house in 1954. My mother mowed the lawn when she couldn’t get one of us to do it. All the kids out of the house and my father newly retired, it somehow came to be that mowing the lawn would be my father’s job. He sets out one Saturday morning (because Saturday is lawn-mowing day) with the push mower on the front lawn. About a quarter hour later my mother looks out the kitchen window to find the lawn mower abandoned on the front lawn and the car gone. Wonder what happened, she thinks. My father returns an hour later, pulls into the driveway, opens the trunk of the car, and hauls out a brand-new power mower. Lawn mowing then proceeds.

She never asked anything more of us than she did herself. My mother’s standard response to a child bringing to her some fresh affront, some clear injustice was It doesn’t matter. Or, as a variant, Never mind. Clearly so very unsatisfying to a child.

But she applied Never mind to herself with absolute consistency. She wasn’t without feelings. She just wouldn’t act on them. Yes, she did worry and, yes, she did get hurt and, yes, sometimes she was scared. She wouldn’t share it and she wouldn’t seek to change it. Just persist and get through.

Persistence. There are places of tremendous beauty and wonder you can get to if you can bear the journey. She did this. She not only bore the journey, she embraced it.

Her faith and spiritual practice were her rock and foundation. She attended church once, often twice, each and every Sunday that she could since she was an infant. Every day began with a bible reading and devotion. Every meal began with a prayer. She loved the psalms best, and in their later years she and my

father would read to each other from the Psalms in Dutch. She loved a good hymn and would sing them quietly to herself throughout the week while she was cleaning, or cooking, or gardening. The words of faith, the faithful words, were a source of abiding comfort and hope to her all through her years. And there were very many years. Bless her.

-Barbara (Reinsma) Ottenhoff

January 12, 2019

Services

  • Private Graveside Service Friday, October 26, 2018
  • Celebration of Life Service Saturday, January 12, 2019
REMEMBERING

Tryntje Reinsma

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Deb Verwolf Voorhorst

November 25, 2018

I have such memories of this strong, dear woman. The mother of my dearest childhood friend Teresa, Tryntje never complained when we turned her sewing room into a ship, turned Teresas bedroom into a public library or kept our pet mice or rescued birds in her garden room. She helped me purchase my first pair of hiking boots, listened to my moaning on those long hikes and quietly held up the rear while Teresa and I dawdled along the way. Tryntje sewed most of my clothing in high school and while hemming my skirts i smile when I remember Mins calling out "not so short!" , and Tryntje just nodding and hemming my skirts just perfectly.
This woman was a huge part of my childhood, as was her daughter. I have the fondest memories of both. She was a wonderful woman.
Deb

Rose Kossen

October 29, 2018

Fond memories of Mins. A man of character, integrity and wisdom. Also remember Teresa with great admiration. Barb Reinsma, my attorney and counselor. May each of you find peace and comfort. Rose Kossen

Carolyn Van Mersbergen

October 26, 2018

The Reinsma Family,
So sorry to hear of the passing of your dear mother. How we loved your parents! Your Dad had so much wisdom and your Mom was such an example of happy simplicity. Always a wise word to ponder.
I remember when I was going through chemo therapy back in 1996 and i received a phone call from your parents and they were traveling in Texas and your Dad said,"We are sitting under the stars and listening to classical music and wondered how you were doing?" I will never forget that phone call. It meant so much to me.
I am sure Sherwin has lots of memories of your parents also..........serving on the school board, elders and being part of the CRC.
Sorry we cannot come to Seattle for the burial this morning but our thoughts and prayers are with each of you.
We want you to know ........we care,
Sherwin and Carolyn Van Mersbergen (Lynden, WA.)

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Biography

Tryni Reinsma was born to Klaas and Trijntje Romkes on September 8, 1925, in Andijk, North Holland – a fishing town in the shadow of a looming dike that held back the Zuider Zee. After eight years of grade school, she worked at the Reinsma Winkel – their grocery store – alongside a young man named Mins.

Having survived the Great Depression and World War II, Mins and Tryni married on July 4, 1947, an anniversary which, they were delighted to discover, all of our country joined in celebrating. Three years later, they sought out their future in the United States. After several years in New Holland, South Dakota – where Tryni learned to read English by puzzling her way through Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind -- they moved to Independence, Missouri. There Mins learned the jewelry trade, while Tryni raised two children – Luke and his sister Barbara – in a 23-foot trailer tucked into an apple orchard, thanks to the good will and generosity of a family of Mormons.

Missing the smell of salt water and the sound of waves, they wrote to Christian Reformed congregations on both coasts. It was Reverend Peter DeJong who invited them to join the Seattle CRC in 1954. While Mins worked at Phil’s Jewelry in Ballard, Tryni baked countless loaves of bread for Luke and Barbara, then Clarence, and finally Teresa – bread that the kids happily traded for Wonderbread during lunch break at Watson Groen Christian School.

During the summers, the family hiked for weeks on end, Tryni having sewn tent and packs for the six of them. Long before the advent of dehydrated food, she made pancakes in a cast-iron skillet over open fires. Together, they hiked around Mt. Rainier, across the Olympic Peninsula, and on much of Washington’s Pacific Crest Trail; in later years, Mins and Tryni’s travels took them on paths that wound their way through Nepal, England, the Pyrenees, Switzerland, Africa, and New Zealand.

Quiet and private, Tryni was also hard-working, reliable, stoic, and tough – values that she imparted to her children as well: Luke, a professor; Barbara, a psychologist; Clarence, a master craftsman; and Teresa, a professor of English in Taiwan. Tryni loved good books, often devouring several a week. She loved her flowers. She loved the mountains, walking in the snow, sunset, sunrise. She loved her husband. She loved her children and their grandchildren: Luke and Barbara (Feikens) Reinsma, Nat and Marika; Barbara and John Ottenhoff, Samuel and Chloe; Clarence and Lisa (Pitstick) Reinsma, Micah, Hanna, Grace, Emma, Peter, and Rachel, and her great-granddaughter Adaline; and Teresa Reinsma. And she loved the Lord.

Having lived a life of daily devotion and Christian practice, Tryni Reinsma died in peace on Friday, October 19, 2018, comforted by the certainty that she would be welcomed into our father’s and our Father’s embrace. She was 93.