By Erik Meintser
March 28th, 2004
Today we are here to celebrate the life of Henk Meintser; husband, father, grandfather, coach and good friend to many. He was a true pioneer in many respects.
As a young adult, he was taken by the enemy and placed in a work camp. The American Troops helped to rescue him and he returned the favor by assisting them as an interpreter during the final days of the war. He was invited by an American to come over to America after the war. He left his war torn country of the Netherlands and came with his new wife to America and settled in Henderson, Texas, in 1949. As our family grew, we moved to Paris, Texas and eventually made Dallas, Texas our home. Over the years, my parents sponsored four of my motherís brothers and sisters to the United States. Our family continued to grow.
My father always had a passion for soccer and in his younger years, he helped start soccer clubs in the Dallas area like the Flying Dutchmen and played in those clubs. As his children grew up, he saw that soccer was lacking in the schools. He started the soccer programs at Jesuit, St. Rita and University of Dallas. Over the years, he coached many athletes and became friends to many. Our family continued to grow.
My sisters, Anneke and Jocelyn, reflected that if ever there was anyone meant to be a father, it was our dad. Dad was totally involved in our lives from slumber parties to school plays and pageants. He, together with my mom, made each of our birthdays very special. He would go to the park and hide a tool box full of candy for a pirate party or have my uncle Ton help give us rides in a darkened garage on a bench that was a space ship for our astronaut party. He even gave up his poker table cloth to be used for a Peter Pan costume. He took us on countless trips and outings. Even after a trip to the zoo, which was cut short by a lion turning around and spraying my father, we were able to laugh as he got on his hands and knees to see our dogís reaction.
My brother, Hans, mentioned how much my dad like the outdoors. He would take Hans fishing to Lake Dallas and on the way they would stop for a drive-in-movie. After the movie, the would go to the lake and set up camp and be ready for some early morning fishing. As I re-tell all the camping adventures that my family went on to my kids, I am amazed at all the places we visited. We took many of our friends on these trips and outings and they got to know my dad as their dad. Our family continued to grow.
My children, Bianca, Amanda, and Nicholaas and my brotherís children, Sierra, Sean and Nova, all reveled in the silliness that was their "Opi." They looked forward to the time they could spend with him. He loved to tell jokes and play practical joke with them. In fact, he loved to make a lot of people laugh even in the huddles before a soccer game.
Both my parents have told me that I am a good husband and father but they never realized how easy a job it is when I had such a good example to follow. I am most proud when someone would comment that I am just like my dad - a compliment that I hold close to my heart. I wasnít much of an athlete growing up and I am assuming it must skip a generation, since my son, Nicholaas, shares the same passion for soccer as my dad did. He has actually brought me more into the sport because of his passion.
My dadís passion for soccer was what helped soccer grow in the Dallas area. As a coach, it was not so much the winning that was important to him, but that everyone got a chance to play. "If you would just give it your all, you would become a winning player." His philosophy worked as there were so many countless wins for his teams. I was the lucky one because he had been both a coach and a dad to me my whole life. His soccer players only had contact with him for a few years, and yet it is surprising how in those few years, he had made a lasting impression and passed on his philosophy of soccer and life.
When my sister, Karen, past away last August, our family was devastated. I know that my dad is now with her and they are here with us today. So many people came forward with heart felt support and love during that time and our family continued to grow.
Sharing these thoughts with you today are just a few of the reflections of my brothers and sisters. Certainly, there are not enough words. Many of you knew my dad and have your own stories to share. He brought us all together today and our family continues to grow.