It is with profound devastation that we face the death of our Husband, Pookie, and Dad, Hans Brenninkmeyer of Toronto and Salters Point, who died on December 24, 2019 in Mexico City as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
Hans was predeceased by his son Kees, and is survived by his wife Suzy, his daughters, Julie (John Hartley), Elise and Laura (Tait Nielsen), three grandchildren and five siblings and many in-laws, outlaws, nieces, nephews and cousins.
A proud Dutchman, Hans was born in Bloemendaal, Holland and was the eldest of Elly Koster and Kurt Brenninkmeyer’s six children. He attended Stonyhurst College in England where the Jesuits forged his devotion to both the Catholic faith and the game of rugby.
After serving in the Dutch army, Hans began his career in the family retail business working in Holland, Belgium, Germany, and then New York; where he earned an MBA at New York University and was named captain of the New York Rugby Club.
The real fun started when Hans met Suzy Sweetser at a rugby party in the beer-soaked basement of a New York pub. Suzy and Hans noticed each other when she quoted a line from Shakespeare and he cited it from Julius Caesar. A cultured rugby player...who knew? After a courtship that included interminable rugby games and a shared love of the theatre, Suzy and Hans were married in 1975.
Hans thrived in his career, enjoying the people he worked with as much as the many diverse challenges it enabled him to undertake. He whistled as he set off in the morning and his children have fond memories of catching a ride to school, surrounded by his enthusiasm for the day to come. His remarkable career took the family from New York to California to Duluth MN (a wonderful place to raise children) and finally to Toronto; where Suzy and Hans lived happily for 31 years.
After a reluctant retirement, Hans put as much passion into philanthropy as he had in his work. Believing in “boots on the ground,” he traveled to far corners of the world to bring aid in the name of many foundations and charities. In Toronto, he was particularly concerned about the homeless and disenfranchised.
With SWAMBO (She Who Must Always Be Obeyed) by his side, he enjoyed and supported the arts and cultural institutions in the city. Once he begrudgingly took off his rugby boots, and had one bronzed, Hans had both knees replaced so he could thrash around squash and tennis courts at the Granite Club, where he also enjoyed “creative bidding” at the bridge table with Suzy.
Summers at Salter’s Point were spent cruising Buzzards Bay on his beloved boat “Got Pace” (inspired by a rugby term of course).
Suzy and Hans travelled extensively and celebrated setting foot on all seven continents with a champagne toast in Antarctica.
With all of Hans’ achievements and pleasures, his greatest joy was his family. After many years of not so subtle hinting, Hans was especially pleased to become an Opa. We all loved the familiar sound of him reading books, playing make believe, and feigning astonishment at some new wonder with his beloved grandchildren.
We will miss Hans’ strength of purpose, moral courage and devotion to family and Faith; as well as his sardonic wit and throaty laugh. He left us all too soon.
A private family Mass and burial will take place in Toronto.
The family has requested donations to the following charities in lieu of flowers: L’Arche Daybreak at larchedaybreak.com; St. Michael’s Hospital, Centre for Urban Health Solutions at maphealth.ca; The Good Shepard at goodshepherdcentres.ca; and The Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation at keesbfoundation.org/donate.
Condolences may be forwarded through humphreymiles.com.
“He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.” -Hamlet