2017-04-07 / Obituaries

Dirk van der Kaay

Dirk P. van der Kaay, 87 years, of Wells, died March 25, 2017 at his residence following a brief illness. He was born in The Netherlands on June 7, 1929 to the late Karel van der Kaay and Felicie (Ozinga) van der Kaay.

Dirk grew up in Heemstede, near Amsterdam, and was 11 years old when Germany invaded The Netherlands on May 10, 1940. Despite his young age he was incredibly instrumental in the survival of his family during the five-year German occupation with frequent and risky trips to barter for food and avoid Nazi patrols.

Even during the hunger winter of 1944 he still would make up to 100-mile bicycle trips to barter for a substantial amount of food.

In October 1947, at the age of 18 years, he joined the Royal Dutch Steamship Company as the ship’s clerk aboard the freighter

Orestes, sailing principally in South America and the Caribbean. After a few months, on the way to Chile and rounding Cape Horn, the Orestes was shipwrecked in the Straights of Magellan. A few weeks later, following some temporary repairs, the ship ended up being towed to Valparaiso, Chile. Dirk then became the company representative in this city for two years during which time he also had the temporary position of consul general of The Netherlands.

During his stint in Chile he was recalled by the Dutch government to fulfill his military obligations and served for six months in the Princes Irene Brigade of the Dutch army. The company then transferred Dirk first to Aruba and then to Cristobal, Panama, for two years before he finally immigrated to Canada in late 1952 to join the rest of his family.

Initially he worked as a contractor and started his own construction company then changed his mind and instead enjoyed a few years as a ski bum in Aspen, Colorado. After that he joined and became one of five partners of Streeter and Quarles, which was mainly a winter sport clothing company. They had stores in Montreal, Stowe, Vermont, New York City and Boston. Following the company’s dissolution, he managed the retail shop at the Mt. Tom ski area in Holyoke, Massachusetts, then was the director of the Ski Merchandizing Association and finally became the managing director of Maser of Austria U.S., a manufacturer of high end sports clothing. Dirk retired in 1994 to enjoy his life in Massachusetts living on the water and sailing.

Politics, history and sailing weren’t his only interests. He held a single engine pilot license first in Canada and then in the U.S. and maintained his license for several decades. France held a special interest to Dirk, as did cooking, so it was no surprise that he was a member of the Alliance France in Boston, served on their board of directors, lived a year in Belle-Ile-en-Mer, an island off the coast of Brittany, and studied at Cordon Bleu in Paris.

His fluency in four languages, one of which was French, was a real asset during all his work, play and travel. All of this is nothing short of describing Dirk’s bon vivant persona, his love of life, his sense of humor, his appreciation of those around him and the closeness of his friendships. He was truly a citizen of the world and many a memory recalls a story, a gourmet meal and a glass of scotch.

Learning to love Maine from his frequent visits to friends, Dirk made his move to Maine in 2002 where he has lived since. He became an American citizen in 2004 and never held back in sharing his political views.

Dirk is predeceased by his parents as well as close friend, Tom Tighe, of Ogunquit, and leaves behind a brother, Erik van der Kaay, and sister-in-law, Mary Jo van der Kaay, of Kennebunk; brother, John van der Kaay, of Quispamsis, New Brunswick; sister, Carla Stapensea of Montreal, Canada; two nephews, Robert Swart of Edmonton, Alberta; Neil Stapensea of Houston; three nieces, Sandra Stapensea of The Hague, Netherlands; Carla Swart of Calgary, Alberta, and Pauline Mello of Toronto, Ontario and his godson, Todd Adams of Exeter, New Hampshire.

Any donations could be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Wounded Warriors or the local food bank, all which Dirk strongly supported during his life.

Per his request there will be no services but rather a privately held Celebration of Life gathering.

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