On the morning of September 5, 2019, Henk Vera passed away peacefully in his sleep, with wife of 59 years Helen by his side.
Hindrik Vera was born on Sunday morning January 22, 1928 at the home of his parents, Bonno Jan and Antje (Schrage) Vera, in the city of Groningen in the northern part of The Netherlands. An only child, Henk (pronounced like Hank) spent the first 21 years of his life in that city. Kindergarten was followed by elementary and advanced education. In April 1940 he passed the High School entrance exam. Shortly thereafter, in May 1940, the German army invaded The Netherlands. Henk started high school in the fall, but very soon the building was confiscated by the Germans and used as a military hospital. Their school was combined with other schools, one using the building in the morning, the other in the afternoon, severely limiting education. In February 1943 his father was forced to work in a factory in Germany with little communication with his mother. There were daily bombing raids, the Americans by day and the British RAF at night. Prime targets were manufacturing plants which put his father in danger every day. Life became worse in the last two war years, practically no school at all, there was no fuel to heat the buildings. The family was liberated by the Canadians on April 16, 1945. In the process, their house burned down when it was hit by phosphorus grenades. His father came back late May, or early June. Henk started his last year of high school and graduated in 1946. He enrolled in the technical college in his hometown, completing a 4-year education in Mechanical Engineering in 3 years on July 16, 1949.
After working a year in Eindhoven with Philips Electronics, Henk decided to get the highest degree possible at the Technical University of Delft, the Netherlands’ equivalent to MIT. He took 5 more years of Mechanical Engineering, graduating in December of 1955. Following graduation, Henk worked at the Royal Steel mills and Comprimo Engineering in Amsterdam. He then moved to The Hague where he joined a new American company, BS&B of Oklahoma City. They sent him to the States for training. While there he met school teacher Helen McKown. Henk was returned to The Hague; and in order to get to know each other better Helen decided to follow him. In short, they were married in the city of Groningen, lived in The Hague and their first daughter was born there. At the end of 1961 Henk decided that he needed more American business exposure and emigrated on December 12, 1961. He found a job with National Tank Company (Natco), starting on January 15, 1962. After one year he began doing international work, designing equipment for overseas customers and travelling often and worldwide, most frequently to West Africa. During his career, Henk lived in Oklahoma City, OK; Pampa, TX; Tulsa, OK; Kingston-Upon-Thames, Surrey, England; and back to Tulsa, Ok.
In 1985 Natco started a Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan (VSIP), which Henk as Director of International Operations accepted. He joined Latoka Engineering and established an overseas operation for them in London. In 1988 this operation became part of Allen Tank of New Iberia, LA. Henk did consulting work for Allen Tank until April 1992 when he retired for good.
In retirement, Henk & Helen lived in a condominium in Tulsa with several wonderful friends. He enjoyed golfing, playing gin rummy and Mello Mondays at Garden Park. In 2018 they decided to move to Raider Ranch, an independent living apartment in Lubbock, TX, to be near their oldest daughter’s family. Henk soon found a group of men with whom he enjoyed breakfasts, morning coffee, and afternoon games of pool.
He is survived by his wife Helen; daughter Florence Ann, husband Mark Robert McVay of Lubbock, TX and granddaughters Stephanie Ann of Lubbock, TX and Lauren Michelle, husband Charles Brandon Sweeney, and great-grandson Caleb Henry of Pflugerville, TX; son John Bonno Vera, wife Sheri Lynn, grandson James Hindrik and granddaughter Jennifer Lynn of Norman, OK; and daughter Martha Monnet, husband David Paul Hightower, grandsons Paul Matthew, David Michael, Johnathan Ross and Nathan Andrew of Eagle, ID.
A Memorial Service will be held at 1:00pm on Saturday, September 14 at Indiana Ave. Baptist Church, 9507 Indiana Ave., Lubbock, TX 79423.
Memorial donations can be made to Wycliffe Bible Translators or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.