It is with great sadness that the family of Willem Johannes Radix announce his passing at Hawkesbury General Hospital on December 12, 2023, at the age of 91 years.
Wim will be hugely missed by his bright star, his wife of 65 years, Elizabeth van Duivenbode, his three children and their families: Ellen (late Bryan Smith); Johanna Marion (Liz Lausanne); and Jacob (Terri Haskin). He was a proud and loving Opa to: Nicolaas and Grace (Sam Johns) Smith; Dylan (Grace Grant) and Jordan (Michaela Thivierge) Radix.
Wim was born August 26, 1932, in Nigtevecht, the Netherlands. He was the third of five children to Jacob Radix and Hendrika Pieneman. Wim will be sorely missed by his siblings and their families: Bram (Jane van Oosten) and Alma (Diderk Heinje) Radix. A special Oom Wim/Uncle Bill to: Paul (Nat), Jimmy (Jennifer) and Trish Radix (Finnegan); Raymond (Melanie), Rudy (Cathy) and Monique (Milly) Franke; Bianca (Michael), Erica (Geoff) and Tanya (Dave) Radix; and Sonja (Andreas) and Bassie Heinje and their families. Much loved by his in-laws Reta Winder Radix and the van Duivenbode clan and their families: Pat (late Gord van Gemeren), Riek (late Jaap de Boer), Margaret (late Wouter Bredeveldt), late Corrie, Kees (Leslie Paylor), John, Reta, Nellie (late Doug Morgan), Hannie (Joe De Bono), Jack (late John Lemaire).
In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by brother, Pete, his sister, Ria, her husband, Willem Franke, their child, Richard and their grandson, Jacob.
Bill had tremendous gratitude for the caring friendship of Mac and Sylvie Coburn, Linda (late John) and Pattie Ricker, Nellie Morgan, Jack Vanduyvenbode, Geertje Moen and Jan Meijer.
Willem left the Netherlands May 10, 1954, aboard the “Groote Beer”. He was convinced by his family that sheep farming was not a good choice, so he continued quarry work and tobacco picking and subsequently obtained work at Stelco in Hamilton.
He joined the youth group of Ebenezer Reformed Church in Fruitland, Ontario to meet a good Dutch woman. He knew for the rest of his life that this was the best decision he had ever made. Wim and Lies were married in the same church in 1958. They lived in a variety of homes in Grimsby Beach, Winona and Vinemount, Ontario.
In early 1971, Wim/Bill left Stelco and was hired to be part of the team to develop a new steel wire rolling mill, ground-up, located in L’Orignal, Ontario. Bill and Liz packed up their family of five, said goodbye to their well-established Dutch community of family and friends, and began their next adventure. Bill and Liz have now called Vankleek Hill their home for 52 ½ years.
Bill was involved with the early days of the Vankleek Hill Nature Society. His first love has always been birdwatching. Shorebirds in Naardermeer in the Netherlands when he was teenager, always having binoculars close by wherever he might be. He was involved with the Society to preserve a small portion of the Alfred Bog and led tours to interested groups. He checked all the area sewage lagoons for regular shore and duck species, always hoping for a species that wasn’t on his life list. He could recall the location of his first sighting of every new bird species. He also was proactive about the water level management of the lagoons so that nesting birds had the best opportunity for success. For many years, he, and his birding buddy, Bill Pilon, would head out early Sunday mornings to check out their feeding stations, nesting sites as well as new possibilities. Birding was never the same for him when Bill passed. This year, he was very proud to be recognized as an honourary member of the Vankleek Hill Nature Society.
Bill’s philosophy evolved from initial observations and stories shared by his progressive parents and insightful Opoo Snell. Bill had an insatiable curiosity about human and animal behaviour. He witnessed the injustice and forced choices of the economically poor, the desperation of the hungry, the retaliation of the oppressed and resilience within an occupied country. He felt tremendous gratitude for the families who housed hungry children during the starving winter including Ria and himself. He witnessed prejudice of new immigrants to Canada. He gave a wide latitude to the judgement of others. Walk a mile in another’s shoes .... unless, he, in fact, is wearing someone else’s shoes by mistake!
A Private interment will be held at Mclaughlin Cemetery. A Public Celebration of Willem’s Life will be held on May 18, 2024 at the Vankleek Hill Curling Club, 136 Bond St, Vankleek Hill with more details and times to follow soon.
In memory of Willem, Wim or Bill we ask you to take a moment and watch a bird and their antics. Tell a friend what you witnessed. Hold nature gently as the sacred gift it is.
A Tree of Remembrance will be planted in memory of Bill in the McAlpine Forever Forest in Vankleek Hill.