Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hendrik Willem Alma

Our loving Father, H. Willem (Wim) Alma, passed away on Saturday, Aug. 21, in the presence of his loving wife, Sally, at their home in Bellevue.

Born in Hilversum, The Netherlands, on March 2, 1914, Dad lived a life filled with adventure. The youngest of six, he left home at age 20, spending the next seven years in Cristobal, the Canal Zone, and Curacao-Aruba, in The Netherlands Antilles. During that time, he contracted malaria, and then traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for treatment. Part of his cure had a lasting impact on his life—a prescription to travel to the Western U.S., for a dryer climate.

In the summer of 1941, Dad visited the CM Ranch in Dubois, Wyo. At the end of his stay, the owners, Charlie and Marian Moore, recommended that he visit another ranch, the Diamond Tail, near Laramie, owned by their friends the Benzigers. It was there that he met his future wife, Sally Fay Benziger. They met in September and were married in New York City on Jan. 15, 1942. Over the next five years, Mom and Dad were blessed with three children—Elizabeth (Mischa), Willem (Wim) and Mary.

During World War II, Dad's work with the Netherlands Ministry of Shipping kept his family on the move, between New York and San Francisco. After the war's end, in late 1947, Dad was asked to move to Seattle, to open a new office for his employer, Transpacific Transportation Co. While it was a big change for them both, it allowed Wim and Sally to put down their roots. This was their home for the next 20 years.

It was during this time that Dad became a naturalized citizen, in 1950. He was appointed honorary consul of the Netherlands in Seattle, a post he held from 1954 to 1969. In 1965, Mom and Dad traveled to The Netherlands, where he was knighted by Queen Juliana in the Order of Orange-Nassau.

In April 1969, the two of them moved to San Francisco, where Dad served as vice president and general manager of Transpacific Transportation until April 1979. Retirement in the Wood River Valley then beckoned, where they spent 11 years in Ketchum, and the last 20 in Bellevue. Mom and Dad were pillars of Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in Sun Valley. While Mom was a cradle Catholic, Dad was not. However, at the age of 81, he finally did become a Catholic, witnessed by his family and close friends.

Dad was an honest and caring man who based his life on strong principles from which he did not waiver. He loved to make friends no matter where he went—and he had many. He is survived by his wife, Sally Fay, of 68 years; daughter Elizabeth "Mischa" Leendertsen (Howard) of Ketchum; son Willem "Wim" Alma (Sharyn) of Kirkland, Wash.; daughter Mary Mills (John) of Bellevue; four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A funeral mass was held Aug. 25 at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church. A celebration of Dad's life will be held at a future date. Memorials may be made to Wood River Hospice, Box 4320, Ketchum, ID 83340,; Senior Connection, Box 28, Hailey, ID 83333,, or to a charity of your choice.

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