Tine Tegelaar Stewart, 1930-2016
Tine Stewart, a 25-year Huntington Beach resident, died on Dec. 2 at age 86 of congestive heart failure, complicated by a stroke and pneumonia. Tine was in robust health until September. Her sons were with her throughout her illness.
Tine was born Teuntje Kok on March 2, 1930, in Rotterdam, Holland. Life alongside a canal was idyllic until Holland was invaded and occupied by Germany in 1940. Rotterdam was nearly flattened. Vivid memories of those dark years remained with her for her entire life. When the Germans came to arrest her three older brothers to send them to German factories as slave laborers, she was proud that her mother had the presence of mind to tell the arresting officer that her sons had communicable tuberculosis. The officer bought the story. She also remembered the bread and butter sandwiches the liberating Canadian troops passed out to the children, their first taste of butter in years. Five long winters of no coal for heat made her long to live somewhere warm.
When she met her first husband, Johannes Tegelaar, they decided to marry and immigrate to California. Immigration visas for Dutch citizens were few under the old quota system and their plans were foiled. They decided to try Uruguay, and lived happily in sunny Montevideo for five years. That country’s boom years were ending in the 1950s and when an opportunity to go to the U.S.A. arose, they grabbed it. First they had to return to Holland for six months.
Finally, in September 1959, Tine and Johannes proudly sailed to New York aboard the maiden voyage of Holland’s postwar ship of state, The SS Rotterdam. When they arrived in New York, they needed to get to Los Angeles. With tiny Holland and tiny Uruguay being their reference points, they decided to take the bus. How long could the ride be?
Initially Tine worked as a secretary at the Dutch consulate in Los Angeles and her husband worked as an electrical engineer. By the mid-60s they had established themselves, started a family and become American citizens. By the ‘70s they were able to build their dream home in San Clemente. Tine supervised the project, knew every nail and board, and woe was the plight of any worker that got it wrong.
Now it was time for Tine to get the university education she had been denied in postwar Holland. While raising her sons, she went to Saddleback College, studied nursing and graduated with her RN. For the next 20 years Tine tended newborn babies from the moment of birth until they were discharged to go home.
Tine and Johannes Tegelaar divorced in the 1980s and after Johannes died in 1990, Tine married the love of her life, Walter Stewart, in 1992. They moved to Huntington Beach. Walter, a retired engineer, built an airplane in the garage and then flew the skies of southern California. Tine, utilizing her fluency in Spanish, worked as an RN for another 10 years doing outreach family planning for Orange County. She spoke five languages fluently.
Five years ago Walter was afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and died in 2012. Tine loved Huntington Beach, so she moved just a mile down the road to the Landmark senior community. She continued a life-long passion for travel, including a visit to Montevideo to reconnect with old friends. During the summer of 2014 she was able to spend a month in Holland visiting family, reconnecting with old friends and even spent two nights aboard the SS Rotterdam, now a hotel in Rotterdam’s harbor.
Tine is survived by her sons, Rex Tegelaar of Los Angeles and Maurice Tegelaar of Kenwood. She adored her sons and they adored her. Also surviving is her brother, Willem, of Son en Breugel, Holland.
There will be no funeral, nor funeral home service. After enough time has passed that friends can remember her life with joy, her sons will host a celebration of her life. The date, time and place will be made known and all her many friends will be welcome.