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Herman was born November 9, 1933 in Doetinchem, The Netherlands, the son of Lambertus and Lina (Hendriksen) Ebbers. One of three brothers and four sisters, the family suffered through the occupation of their town by Nazis during World War 2, on which he reflected often. His older brother Albert died in an artillery attack, just as the country was being liberated by Canadian forces. Herman served in the Royal Dutch Navy from 1953 to 1955 as a radio operator. Photos showing Herman with shipmates on leave in far flung corners of the sunny Mediterranean, and cloudy places such as Scotland, indicate it was not all work, and that he never missed having a good time, a pattern that persisted throughout his well-lived life.
In 1955 Herman immigrated to the United States, entering at Hoboken, New Jersey. His father, mother, younger brother Bert, and sister Hermien, all came over together, seeking a new and better life. Herman returned to the Netherlands briefly in 1957, to convince his fiancee, Trynie Boersma, to join him in the US (her father tipped off Herman that she was getting cold feet). They were married on December 19, 1957, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, at Third Reformed Church. Herman and Trynie remained strong members of that church, raising their two children Bert and Anita there, and staying active for decades afterward, until their health gave out. Herman served in the church as a deacon, taught Sunday School, and attended services faithfully.
After working in the printing industry for 20 years, as a plate-maker at several local businesses, and picking up odd jobs to support his young family whenever his union went out on strike, Herman realized his dream of starting his own business. In 1976, Herman and a partner formed Panoplate Lithographics Inc., a printing company based in downtown Parchment, Michigan, which he ran until 1999, when it was sold and he retired. Herman formed lasting bonds with his customers, taking them out to lunch or dinner, and keeping up on their lives in general, including writing numerous personal notes and letters across many years and into retirement.
Herman loved to garden (foremost), read, and work with wood. Like his thrifty forebears, Herman was adept at repairing things using whatever was close at hand, regardless of whether everything matched. Herman had an appreciation for food that carried through to the end. He also loved playing golf, particularly on dry courses where a well-hit drive would roll forever. Herman’s harmonica skills were well known and he was always happy to play hymns or songs, including for the many caregivers who watched over him as he became increasingly frail.
Herman was preceded in death by his father Lambertus, mother Lina, sisters Hermien, Riek, Lies and Marry, his brothers Albert and Bert, his wife of 60 years, Trynie, and son-in-law Jim (Anita) Lewis. He is survived by his son Bert, daughter Anita, daughter-in-law Katie, grandchildren Anne and Dylan, great-grandchildren Audrey and Antje, sister-in-law Mercedes, and several nieces and nephews, both in the US and the Netherlands. He was especially close to his three nieces whom he saw often: Heather (Jeff Russell) Ebbers, Pam (Mark) Mensonides, and Deborah Ebbers.
A funeral service will be held Wednesday, September 20, 2023 at 11:00am at Langeland Family Funeral Homes Burial and Cremation Services, 622 S Burdick St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007, where family will greet friends one hour prior to the service. A time for food and fellowship will follow. Herman will be laid to rest privately in East Cooper Cemetery.
Donations in Herman’s memory may be made to Centrica Care Navigators.
To share a memory or leave a condolence for the family visit https://www.langelands.com.
Centrica Care Navigators (formerly Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan)
7100 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo MI 49009