Vet­eran vol­un­teers royally hon­oured for com­mu­nity work

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - DE­BRA DOWNEY

To say Wil­lie Kruter has had an ex­cit­ing May is an un­der­state­ment.

Early in the month, Kruter be­came the first fe­male to re­ceive the Cross of Merit from the Vet­er­ans Le­gion in the Nether­lands.

She then topped off the hon­our by din­ing with Princess Mar­griet and her hus­band dur­ing their re­cent four-day visit to Canada.

The Cross of Merit was pre­sented to Kruter dur­ing a spe­cial meet­ing of the Dutch Cana­dian Vet­eran As­so­ci­a­tion at the An­caster Achieve­ment Cen­tre.

Lt. Col. Ed­win Saidoo, pres­i­dent of the Dutch le­gion, was vis­it­ing Canada for the May 5 Lib­er­a­tion of Hol­land cer­e­monies and dropped by the meet­ing to bring greet­ings from abroad.

“He started to talk, and he kept look­ing at me,” said Kruter.

“It was re­ally a sur­prise (to be pre­sented with the cross). I felt like I was picked be­cause of all the things I do, but I didn’t do all those things by my­self.”

Kruter joined her hus­band, Chris, as a mem­ber of the Dutch Cana­dian Vet­eran As­so­ci­a­tion 30 years ago.

Since then, she has taken up al­most ev­ery task imag­in­able, from pro­vid­ing lunch at monthly meet­ings to fill­ing out pa­per­work and or­ga­niz­ing de­tails, small and large, sur­round­ing the an­nual Hamil­ton memo­rial cer­e­mony that ex­presses grat­i­tude and re­mem­bers the Cana­di­ans who drove out Nazi oc­cu­py­ing forces dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

“Wil­lie is such a ma­jor part of the or­ga­ni­za­tion that if she didn’t do it our as­so­ci­a­tion wouldn’t ex­ist,” said her hus­band, Chris.

On May 16, the Kruters dined with Princess Mar­griet, her hus­band Pi­eter van Vol­len­hoven and 56 oth­ers at Spencer’s at the Wa­ter­front in Burling­ton.

Un­like a pre­vi­ous din­ner in­vi­ta­tion seven years ago, the Kruters did not have the op­por­tu­nity to speak with the cou­ple, but it was still a plea­sure to be in the roy­als’ com­pany, said Kruter.

“They are very, very nice peo­ple,” she said.

Hamil­ton’s Dutch Cana­dian Vet­eran As­so­ci­a­tion, which meets the sec­ond Satur­day of each month, is the last such group re­main­ing in Canada, after other groups in Toronto, Lon­don and Chatham folded.

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