Wim Nouwen, physical therapist and professional kayak instructor, died on February 22, 2015. His death was attributed to an accident while kayaking on the Mississippi River. Wim devoted his life to his family, to healing and teaching in his physical therapy work and to kayaking. As a committed family man, he freely expressed his devotion to his beloved wife, Julie, and to his 14-year-old daughter, Crystal. Wim was born in Budel, the Netherlands, on November 16, 1964 to Wil and Ria Nouwen. He attended schools in Holland, earning a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy. He wrote his thesis on the subject of kayaking injuries. He was a member of the Dutch National Kayaking team. He also served in the military in Holland and worked in Germany prior to coming to the United States in 1993 and settling in Memphis. He was widely known in the field of physical therapy for his compassionate care and his teaching ability. His commitment was to the correction of physical injuries in order to bring about healing and to teaching preventive measures to avoid further injuries. He excelled in this capacity. During his career he worked at Baptist Hospital Rehabilitation, Galloway Nursing Home, Holborn Integrated Therapy, and most recently at Primacy Rehabilitation Center. As an outstanding kayaker, Wim was recognized for his excellent paddling skills, not just in Memphis but across the country. After displaying these skills from his classic kayaking background acquired in Holland, he quickly became a part of the local paddling community. One member of that group described him as "a humble man, with no trace of egoism, and who comported himself as a gentle giant in the field of kayaking. Memphis has lost an iconic member of the outdoors community". He was certified by the American Canoe and Kayaking Association, and taught beginning, mid-level, and advanced classes under the auspices of Outdoors, Inc. In recent years, Wim won the Natchez Phat River Challenge 45-mile race and the Vicksburg Bluz Cruz 20-mile race. He also competed in Outdoors, Inc. races along with Olympic gold medal participants. He is survived by his wife, Julie, and daughter, Crystal; his parents Wil and Ria Nouwen; and his sisters Gerti Nouwen and May Nouwen. There will be a visitation on Friday, February 27 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Canale Funeral Directors, 2700 Union Avenue Extended. A reception will follow at the Trolley Stop, 704 Madison Avenue. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Wolf River Conservancy at P. O. Box 11031, Memphis, TN 38111.
Published in The Commercial Appeal on Feb. 26, 2015.