George Herman Maria de Witte
April 9, 1944 – July 12, 2021
George de Witte passed away on Monday July 12. He was held closely by his wife Daiva and surrounded by the love and support of his family. Present were his two sons, two stepdaughters, and eldest granddaughter.
George was an electrical engineer by profession and spent most of his working life at Nortel. He conducted research and development on various technology platforms, eventually moving into management and retiring as a VP of a wireless division. When he was a boy of 12 or 13, he rewired his parents’ house where he grew up with eight siblings in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, thus previewing his chosen career.
When George and Daiva met and fell in love fifteen years ago, George was consulting for start-ups but mostly happily retired. He had raised two boys and two girls with two former wives (Gonnie and Lesley) and imparted on his children a passion for woodworking and home renovation. He was a natural with small children, building doll houses with doorbells and electric lights and endless Lego creations with his six grandchildren and the children of friends.
To the delight of many of their friends, George was a magical travelling repair shop: he could fix and build, rewire and plumb almost anything in his own home, those of his family and in-laws, and various friends’ homes and cottages. He was a very welcome guest, always arriving with the appropriate tools, plucked from his perfectly ordered « Opa’s Tool Shop ». George was determined to push against the planned obsolescence of consumer capitalism and possessed uncanny power to extend or bring back to life items that would otherwise go to the dump. He believed in recycling everything that was still serviceable to others. He designed and built lovely furniture and made significant renovations to the home shared with Daiva on the Gatineau River. George also served as computer hyper-genius for Daiva and lucky friends. With Daiva, he co-hosted countless dinners and gatherings in their home on the river where they so contentedly enjoyed each other’s company. They faithfully followed the motto, “celebrate everything!”
George pursued his long-time passions for sailing on many waters, alpine and cross-country skiing, speed skating, and cycling on many continents. An athletic man, he played competitive volleyball in university. He was an avid and competitive bridge player. Having grown up with a mother who listened to opera while caring for 12 people, George found a love for opera as well as classical music and jazz. Attending opera performances, jazz festivals, and concerts was a regular part of George’s and Daiva’s lives. His dry sense of humour was never more evident than when he wrote poems and designed elaborate and hilarious ‘tease’ presents for Sinterklaas.
George was a compassionate man who had an instinct for natural justice. He attended every single day of Hassan Diab’s lengthy extradition trial and acted as one of his sureties. He also travelled to France twice to visit Hassan in prison. He was always ready to help anyone in need of assistance. Possessed with infinite patience and tenacity, he helped others navigate difficult situations and bureaucracies. George was an active member for over 30 years of the Nepean Sailing Club where he enjoyed participating in the disabled sailing program.
In spirit, George was a dual national (to Daiva’s great frustration, he refused to apply for Canadian citizenship). His attachment to the Netherlands was anchored by his large and close family. He visited the Netherlands frequently, with Daiva or on his own for family occasions, including family reunions of 70 to 80 people. But he chose to live in Canada which suited his desire for majestic nature and space, and to be close to his children and grandchildren. So many of his family remember with great fondness the canoeing and camping trips which George organized when his family visited from Europe. They affectionately recall spending time in the woods and on the water with their dad/brother/opa/uncle George. They remember his positive attitude, and that he always encouraged them to pursue their dreams and meet life’s challenges head-on. George loved to travel, a passion both he and Daiva shared, and in trips both personal and for work, they enjoyed spectacular visits across the globe. George felt particularly privileged to be travelling as an engineer to China in the 1970s.
George had cancer for eleven of the fifteen years he lived with Daiva. He had a physically active life for all but the last two and was hurtling down the hills of the Basque countryside by bicycle with Daiva three summers ago. Daiva and George were so grateful to his brilliant and compassionate team of cancer specialists at the Ottawa Hospital, his family physician and other health workers whose treatments and care ‘repaired’ different parts of his body and brain, and in the last years provided some relief from unrelenting pain. Daiva is so appreciative of George, the love of her life, for the beautiful and meaningful years that they shared, and for his strength of character to hold on for so long. He leaves mourning for his loss his children – Jeroen (Cathy), Erik (Kimberly), Shannon (Daniel), and Dee Dee (Andrew), grandchildren (Emily, Thea, Ashley Annika, James and Patty), and extended family in Canada, the Netherlands, France, and Lithuania, his friends, and most of all his beloved Daiva. A complex man whose decency and positivity disarmed many, George had a simple mantra which he repeated at the dawn of each day: “Life is good.”
Donations may be made in his name to Justice for Hassan Diab (www.justiceforhassandiab.org/donate), Dying With Dignity Canada (www.dyingwithdignity.ca/give_today) or the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation (www.ottawacancer.ca/donation/)
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April 9 1944 July 12 2021 (age 77)
Nos plus sincères sympathies à la famille et aux amis de George Herman de Witte April 9 1944 July 12 2021 (age 77)..
Décès pour la Ville:Nepean, Province: Ontario