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Nico J. van Vliet

Nico J. van Vliet
  • December 1, 1926 - June 13, 2019
  • Johns Island, South Carolina

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Nicolaas Jan van Vliet (92), husband of Geertruida M. de Zeeuw, passed away peacefully and surrounded by his family on June 13, 2019, in his residence in Charleston, SC. Born on December 1st, 1926 in Utrecht, The Netherlands, he was the son of the late Arie Gijsbertus van Vliet and Derkje Petronella Huiberts.
He began his communications career as a lieutenant-information officer in the Dutch Armed Forces Radio Network in Indonesia, and later worked for the World Broadcasting System in the Netherlands, and the Government Information Service in New Guinea.

In 1960, he was awarded a Harkness Fellowship at Stanford University. For the next decade, he produced and hosted TV-documentaries for the Dutch network NCRV focusing on the cultural and socio-economic aspects of Indonesia, Australia, South Africa, Russia, Cuba and the Caribbean. He was one of the first journalists to interview Fidel Castro after the revolution. Other notable interviewees included Martin Luther King, Jr., Valentina Tereshkova (the first female cosmonaut), Nat King Cole and Judy Garland.

In 1969, he returned to the U.S. as a Dutch foreign correspondent in Washington, DC, and New York, NY. He studied racial relations at American University, and received his Masters in Sociology from the University of Bridgeport. In 1974, he returned to the Netherlands to become Director of Integration Policy at the Dutch Ministry of Cultural and Social Affairs. From 1977 until 1984, he was Executive VP of the AVRO, a Dutch radio and television network. His lifelong fondness for the U.S. brought him and his family back to Ridgefield, CT, the birthplace of his children, and later to Charleston, SC.

He published two books in Dutch about apartheid in South-Africa (1968) and immigration and discrimination in the Netherlands (1984). In 1982, he was honorably discharged as Reserve Major of the Dutch Armed Forces. He received two Medals of Honor.

For 28 years, he served as member of the Education Committee of the Netherland-America Foundation. Since 1976, he was a Free Mason and a member of Kapittel Agape under the Grand East of the Netherlands (No. 108). In the U.S., he joined Jerusalem Lodge No. 49 in Ridgefield, CT where he became a W.M. in 1992. Most recently in 2013, he became a member of Landmark Lodge No. 76, A.F.M. in Charleston, SC.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Geertruida Maria de Zeeuw; his three children, Anne-Frans (Thomas van Dyck), Eleanne and Nicolaas; and his sister, Golida. He was a devoted husband, an inspiring father, and loyal friend. He was loved deeply and will be missed for his kindness, warmth, inquisitive mind, and his boundless positive energy.

Services will be held at 2pm on Monday, June 17th at the Downtown Stuhr Funeral Chapel, 232 Calhoun Street. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service in the Downtown Chapel.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Netherlands American Foundation (<>).