Henri Voorstad

[ Age 80 ] Physician survived internment in a Japanese concentration camp.

April 07, 2008|By Tyeesha Dixon | Tyeesha Dixon,SUN REPORTER

Dr. Henri "Henk" Theodoor Voorstad, a retired physician and World War II Japanese concentration camp survivor, died Thursday of complications from heart disease at Normandie Ridge Senior Living Community in York, Pa. He was 80.

Born in Indonesia, where he lived until 1945, Dr. Voorstad was interned in a Japanese concentration camp on the Indonesian island of Java for three years as a teenager during World War II.

"His experience in the Japanese concentration camp was probably the single most formative experience of his life," said a daughter, Francine S. Graillo-Holman of Baltimore.

Ms. Graillo-Holman said Dr. Voorstad's mother died of typhoid fever in the camp when he was 17 years old.

"My father rarely talked about his experience in the war," she said. "I think it was so traumatic for him."

After the war, Dr. Voorstad, who had no siblings, moved to the Netherlands, where he studied medicine at the University of Leiden.

He went on to do an internship at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, where he met Barbara Buchele, a nurse. They married in the Netherlands in 1956.

Dr. Voorstad worked as a physician in the Dutch navy for several years before moving in 1965 with his wife and four children to Timonium, his home for 42 years.

After completing his medical residency at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, he practiced internal medicine at his private practice in the Osler Medical Center in Baltimore for 27 years, retiring in 1995. He and his wife moved to the Normandie Ridge community last year.

"His grandfather was a doctor, and he has his lifelong friends, several whom he knew when he was just a little kid when he was in Indonesia. ... Every single one of them grew up to be a doctor," Ms. Graillo-Holman said.

In his free time, Dr. Voorstad enjoyed studying foreign languages. He was fluent in Dutch, English and French and also spoke German and Indonesian. His other hobbies included sailing and listening to classical music.

"He loved to travel, and he was particularly fond of France," said another daughter, Nancy Marisa Maravi of Clarksville.

She said her father took French language courses as an adult, which he continued after he retired. Spending time on the water was another of his passions.

"One of the memories I most enjoyed was sailing, being out on the Chesapeake on a warm summer day," she said of her childhood.

Dr. Voorstad also loved Indonesian cuisine, which he enjoyed with his family as his children were growing up, Ms. Maravi said.

Ms. Graillo-Holman said her father had "an off-beat, wicked sense of humor," which Ms. Maravi said "stayed with him until the very end."

"He was fiercely loyal to his friends and family," Ms. Maravi said. "He used to have what was called the `tickle machine.' [My children] would beg him for that."

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. May 24 at 311 Oakdale Road in Baltimore.

In addition to his wife and daughters, Dr. Voorstad is survived by a third daughter P. Josee O'Shannessy of Schwenksville, Pa.; a son, Dr. Theodoor Voorstad of Dover, Pa.; and nine grandchildren.

tyeesha.dixon@baltsun.com

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