ERIK HAZELHOFF / 1917-2007
Big Island resident was WWII hero in Netherlands
Erik Hazelhoff, considered the greatest hero of the Netherlands against Nazi occupation during World War II, died Wednesday at his home in Ahualoa on the Big Island. He was 90.
Hazelhoff is best known for his book, and the movie version that followed, titled "Soldier of Orange," a reference to the Dutch royal House Orange.
His exploits ranged from piloting 72 missions with Britain's Royal Air Force against the Nazis, to serving as a director of Radio Free Europe, to helping to create the NBC "Today" show.
"There wasn't anything that man hadn't done," said Lorraine Dove, a former Honolulu actress and a longtime friend. "Erik had it all," she said.
Born in the Dutch East Indies as Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema, he returned to the Netherlands before World War II to earn undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Leiden.
During the war he became a friend of Prince Bernhard and maintained a lifelong friendship with members of the Dutch royal family.
After the war he became the principal aide to Queen Wilhelmina and rode with her at the head of a parade welcoming her home.
Many years later the Dutch royalty stayed at his home in Ahualoa near Waimea, Dove said. Hazelhoff's widow, Karin, has received telephone calls expressing sympathy from Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Irene, said family friend Frank Morgan.
Among other activity credited to him was the founding of an international television conglomerate in Amsterdam, serving as vice president of an oil exploration company in Israel and creating Racing Team Holland.
Hazelhoff became an American citizen in 1953 and moved briefly to Maui in 1971 before settling on the Big Island.
Despite years of associating with royalty, he was humble and had a marvelous sense of humor, Dove said. He was equally at home with young people and older ones, she said.
Hazelhoff is survived by wife Karin, son Erik H. Roelfzema Jr. of Amsterdam, daughter Karna Hazelhoff-Castellon of San Francisco, a granddaughter and a great-granddaughter.
A private memorial gathering will be held next Saturday in Waimea. Hazelhoff's ashes will be buried later with military honors in the Netherlands.