June 23, 1926 - April 21, 2020
George Johan Maat, age 93, of Kilkenny, died peacefully at his home on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. George was born The Hague, Netherlands on June 23, 1926 to George Johannes Adreanse and Johanna Wilhelmina (Delnaay) Maat. George worked as a mechanical engineer in Holland designing dikes. During the German occupation of Holland in WWII, George and his father were surreptitiously gathering firewood in the forest, when they heard voices. Thinking it was the Germans, they quickly scaled a nearby tree, as they would have been shot on sight for their activity. They soon saw that it was a woman and two guys who began to harvest “their” wood. The three heard a god-like voice from above say in Dutch,“Leave my tree alone”! The five shared the wood that was harvested and it was after the war at a victory celebration that George officially met the woman who would become his wife and realized she was the one who had shared the much needed firewood. George married the love of his life, Cornelia “Riet” Maria Huisman on October 3, 1947 in The Hague, Holland. Riet’s father, who was Jewish, was a concentration camp survivor. In February 1957, George and Riet immigrated to the United States with their two young children on a very perilous journey aboard the Seven Seas. Arriving in New York, Riet “hid” Toni, who was a toddler, because she started breaking out in a rash. When they reached Chicago, young Toni was quarantined with the measles. The couple was sponsored in Washington, IL where George went to work for Caterpillar as a mechanical engineer working with diesel engines. In 1960 Caterpillar had a huge lay-off and George went to work for International Harvester and the family moved to Batavia, IL. After retirement, though still working as a consultant, they moved to Pompano Beach, FL and finally Grant, FL. After Riet’s death in August of 2018, George moved to Minnesota to live with his daughter, Toni. He loved his home in Kilkenny and was saddened that he had not made the move sooner when Riet would have also enjoyed it.
George was active throughout his life. He was a gymnast in Holland and had been working toward Olympic competition when the couple decided to immigrate. An avid swimmer his entire life, he was still swimming in his 90’s at the Northfield Community Action Center. He loved the outdoors and animals. He and Riet had family pets throughout their lives. They even raised two infant flying squirrels and released them back into the wild. After retirement and when all the family pets had finally died, Riet and George took up travel and they did it whole-heartedly, renting campers or taking cruises to travel to such places as Alaska, Russia, England, Scotland, Greece, and Rome, to name a few. When at home, there was nothing that George could not do, from remodeling to rebuilding car and motorcycle engines. He was never bored, always busy!
George is survived by his son, George (Arlene) Maat of Palm Bay, FL; daughter, Toni Maat (Jay Grossman) of Kilkenny; grandchildren, Extra & Gusty. He is preceded in death by his parents; sister, Eleanora.
No services will be held. George requested that any memorials be directed to Windmill Animal Rescue in Elko New Market, MN.