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Mathilde "Babes" van Dillen-Clinton


1919 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Mathilde "Babes" van Dillen-Clinton Obituary
Mathilde "Babes"van Dillen-Clinton

October 24, 1919 - April 20, 2017

Mathilde "Babes" (Schoorel) van Dillen-Clinton passed peacefully in her sleep on April 20th. She was 97 years old.
Babes was born in 1919 in Indonesia to Dutch parents, as her father was one of the region's primary surgeons. Babes had an idyllic childhood surrounded by large gardens with a variety of animals, which she nurtured. Her love of animals became a lifelong love and passion. As a teenager, Babes' parents moved back to Holland and she was educated in The Hague and Switzerland.
The Nazis invaded her beloved Holland in 1940 and, in 1943 she met and married a young Dutch intelligence officer, Paul van Dillen. Together they joined forces with the underground Dutch Resistance Movement to help secure the food supplies for Holland. They had a number of dangerous encounters with the Nazis, which Babes later chronicled in her book, Give Terry A Bone. (1986). The book title was a code phrase that they used on the London BBC to notify family back in Holland that they had safely arrived in the UK.
At the end of the war, both Babes and Paul van Dillen were honored in a ceremony by Holland's Queen Wilhelmina for their bravery, sacrifice and service on behalf of the people of Holland.
In 1950, Babes and Paul moved to New Jersey with their young son, Paul, and then later moved to San Mateo Park, where their second son, Erik, was born. They were both active members of the Peninsula Tennis Club in Burlingame and avid tennis players. Babes made sure both of her sons would become tennis players and devoted a good deal of time to their practice. Her husband died a premature death in 1964. Babes continued to write articles about the war for a number of Dutch publications.
In 1969, Babes married J. Hart Clinton, who was a name partner at Morrison and Foerester Law firm in San Francisco, and owner and publisher of the San Mateo Times. Hart and Babes had a long and happy marriage, traveling extensively throughout the world and enjoying time together at his ranch in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Hart and Babes were fortunate to meet a number U.S. Presidents and were invited to the White House on several occasions. Babes lived in San Mateo Park for the rest of her life.
Babes was a devoted wife, mother and friend who lived her life to the fullest. She had a strong personality, a love of life and a committed advocate for animals and the underserved. Babes served as President of the San Mateo SPCA for several years and always had a number of pets. She was known for training the squirrels and birds in her backyard to eat out of her hand. Babes was asked to speak all over the country about her experiences during WWII after publishing her book, which sold over 15,000 copies.
Babes is survived by her two sons: Paul van Dillen (Donna) of Rancho Santa Fe, CA, and, Erik van Dillen (Barbara) of San Mateo Park; 6 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.
A celebration of her life will take place later this summer.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on May 7, 2017
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