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Wouter Van De Bunt


1925 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Wouter Van De Bunt Obituary
December 29, 1925 - February 1, 2016 Wouter van de Bunt, 90, passed away peacefully, at home in Marina del Rey. He had an incredible life. But that is no surprise, because he was an incredible person. Wouter was born in Vianen, Netherlands, at home above the family's bakery. He was the oldest of four children. He missed out on a normal childhood due to the Nazi occupation of Holland from 1940 to 1945. During that time he was part of the Dutch resistance. His stories never ceased to amaze. They were rarely volunteered, and always shared with total humility. When universities reopened after the war, Wouter studied geography and economics, earning undergrad and graduate degrees at the Rotterdam School of Economics (now Erasmus U.). He contributed scholarly articles and maps to various journals. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to do post-graduate work in the US. During his Fulbright year, he attended a White Sox game, the 1952 Presidential Conventions, and decided that America was where he would make his career and raise a family. He returned to Holland, where he met the love of his life, his wife of 59 years, Gerda Bakker in The Hague at a US Embassy party. They married in 1956. After two children were born in Holland, he moved his family to the United States in 1959. Two more children followed, and Wouter proudly became a naturalized US citizen in 1964. Wouter had a long successful career in the airline industry, first with KLM in Amsterdam, later he served in planning, marketing and management roles at Capitol Airlines in Washington DC, KLM and American Airlines in New York, and Lebanese International in Beirut, Lebanon, until the 6 Day War intervened and the family was evacuated. Wouter then returned to the States and began work at Continental Airlines in Los Angeles,moving the family to Rancho Palos Verdes. He later had executive roles at Ground Services International in Philadelphia and Runzheimer Int'l Ltd in Rochester, Wisconsin. During "retirement" he kept his hand in the airline business by taking on extended, volunteer consulting assignments from International Executive Service Corps. for airlines based in Kiev, Ukraine, Sverdlovsk, Russia, Tallinn, Estonia, and Sofia, Bulgaria. Wouter retired to Charlottesville, Virginia from Elm Grove, Wisconsin in 1990 to be near some of his grandchildren, and then moved again to Marina del Rey in 2002 to be with his other grandchildren. He had an inquisitive mind, enjoyed reading, his computer, and classical music. "Opa" took daily walks along the beach with his wife and cherished the beautiful views and each night's spectacular sunset from his window. He finished each evening with a single malt. A beautiful view, a beautiful woman, and a great drink. The man knew how to live. He is survived by two brothers and a sister in the Netherlands, by his four children Dirk (Susan) of Encino, Magda (Larry) Stayton of Santa Barbara, Annette (Donald) Parker of Devon PA, Ben (Laura Fox) of Santa Monica, and nine grandchildren. All will miss him more than words can express. But we take joy that his life was long and well lived; he was much loved and he loved in return. The family will hold a celebration of his life in the coming months. In lieu of flowers, he would have appreciated a donation in his memory to Doctors without Borders.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Feb. 6 to Feb. 7, 2016
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