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  Obituary

Geert Adolph Hendrik Buisman Jzn.

Zwolle (Netherlands), 16th July 1930 -
Bern (Switzerland), 10th January 2005


Born in Zwolle (Netherlands) as the only child of Hendrina Arendina Buisman - Ten Doesschate and her full cousin Jurri Otto Buisman, three of Geert Adolph Hendrik (Dolph) Buisman's grandparents were Ten Doesschate cousins. Through marriage within the family, the Ten Doesschate and Buisman families were rather intertwined. They formed a closely-knit family group, which was well-established in Dutch society and had branched-out abroad, mainly in England. As was common in the Netherlands in those times, he reserved the usage of his first name, Dolph, strictly for the circle of family and friends. Outside, he was commonly referred to as 'GAH'; a traditional style, which he proudly kept all his life and which is continued in this obituary.

As a strong character is a rather common feature within the family, GAH's rather individual personality was not considered an exception. GAH had a natural tendency to care greatly for the extended family past and present. Family in the wide sense, as it included not only relatives and close friends, but also the subsequent dogs and the Swiss cat (who one day had decided to adopt his chalet as her home). GAH was widely respected as a born leader, fully reliable in word and deed fashioned to a gentle manner which now seems to have become nearly extinct.

After his war-disrupted school period GAH finalized his high school studies on his own effort. GAH continued his studies on business economics in London, one year later in Brussels and finally at the Rotterdam High-School for Economics, today's Erasmus University. He gained experience at the company Rovers in Breda. In London, GAH had a great time in London staying at his aunt's Belgrave home. Also he actively joined the Dutch Church Austin Friars in the City of London. Through-out his life, he kept a keen eye for ecumenical religious developments based on early Western Christian tradition. GAH considered social righteousness a gentleman's civil obligation. During the disastrous flooding, which inundated large parts of the Netherlands in 1953, he volunteered immediately to help the survivors.

GAH was brought-up in a business tradition of over twelve generations combined with a both leftist-liberal and free-protestant civil involvement. He had a helicopter view on socio-political movements and held Sir Winston Churchill in great esteem.

Already in early life, his beloved granduncle Antonij J. ten Doesschate introduced GAH at the family company, a herbs and spices mill and over-the-counter pharmaceutical production and wholesaling firm. In 1899, A.J. ten Doesschate had created the firm with financial support of GAH's grandfather on mother's side in full competition of the family's original herbs, spices and chemist company, which had been established by GAH's multi-fold ancestor Jurriaan ten Doesschate in 1782. In the late sixties, when GAH followed his father as president of the company, one of his first acts was to merge both Ten Doesschate companies. Soon after, he sold a majority share to the American multinational Beatrice Foods, but remained, though minority partner, the actual decision-taking leader of the Ten Doesschate group of companies. This became a very fruitful cooperation. Not only Beatrice Foods extended several awards, including for the best performing company in Europe in 1974, but also GAH advised the multinational in several other European take-overs.

GAH's corporate policy for Ten Doesschate was one of aggressive growth through both acquisitions as well as by introducing new products and technical innovations. GAH was especially fond of the strategic game negotiating take-overs. Although his mind for figures matched his rather fabulous memory, it did not blur his capability to capture the general view ahead; on the contrary. For instance, one of his first innovations was to introduced the glass jar as consumer container for herbs and spices on the Dutch market in the early sixties. Under his guidance the company also pioneered with computerisation of administrative processes, as well as with new logistic and milling techniques.

In 1986, GAH bought back the entire company of Ten Doesschate, which by then consisted of two main enterprises, the pharmaceutical wholesale and production company Tendo Haco and the herbs and spices mill for consumer and industrial food products Euroma. Today, the latter flourishes under the name Koninklijke Euroma. GAH coined the name 'Euroma' already in the seventies and the predicate 'Koninklijke' ('Royal') was added by royal decree in 1999. After the subsequent sale of these two subsidiaries - Tendo Haco in the late eighties and Euroma in 1990 -, GAH insisted to keep the name Ten Doesschate Buisman for developing new entrepreneurial initiatives and thus the family company continues its activities still today. In short, GAH's whole live was devoted to steward the family concern.

In 1952, love blossomed when he met his future wife, Margriet M. J. Boele, to whom he would be fondly attached all his life. In line with her family's academic and artistic background, she herself became a talented artist. In the early 1960s, GAH bought for her the couple's first piece of 18th century Dutch porcelain, an ajour Loosdrecht bowl, elegantly decorated with polychrome flowers. Over the years, this private collection of early Dutch porcelain would grow into one of the largest of its kind.

Though always giving priority to a warm and secluded family upbringing for their offspring, the couple had an active social life. GAH was the co-initiator of local efforts such as the society "De Jonge Soos", the lawn tennis club, the community hall, musicals and other festivities. He was fond of tennis and golf. Next to the first price of the best performing company within Beatrice Foods, he was even more proud to win the Beatrice Foods Tennis Cup in Monaco in 1978. He was involved as member of the board of the 'De Industrieele Groote Club' in Amsterdam and several other associations. GAH attended often conferences both in the Netherlands and abroad, including the American Spice Trade Association, Beatrice Conventions, the Potato Chip Convention and from the early start, the World Economic Forum (then still called the European Management Forum) in Davos. He enjoyed travelling for the business, especially to the tropics, though once he was nearly killed in Bolivia during a labour revolt.

In Summer, the family would travel to the South of France or Italy, combining visits to historical places with serious gastronomic delights in between. GAH had a real nose for haute cuisine and his wine cellar will give daily joy in his memory for at least two decennia to come. In 1985, he was knighted a Chevalier de Taste-vin de Bourgogne, which he more appreciated then formal recognition. He was renown to meticulously plan travel schedules annually ahead. Villa d'Este, La Réserve de Beaulieu, The Berkeley and L'Oustaù de Baumanière in Les Baux de Provence were for him like second homes, as already he used to frequent these hotels with his parents.

Brought up in a tradition of collecting art and historic objects, GAH bought his first oil painting at the age of sixteen. From then on, he regularly added to the growing collection of 17th to 19th century works of art, illustrating his widespread interests. Following his father, whose collection of historic objects after his untimely death was left for a major part to museums in his native town of Zwolle, he was much interested in objects related to the region of Overijssel, where the Ten Doesschate and Buisman families have their roots. Like his father, GAH also developed an expert's eye for porcelain and silver. Being a keen sportsman in several fields, he also was enchanted by the hunt for particularly exquisite pieces. Aesthetic and historic values prevailed throughout.

GAH enjoyed wild nature, especially in the Alps. Being recognised as a good shot, GAH supported several wildlife preservation efforts. In Winter, the family would go skiing (both GAH and his wife held the silver medal for skiing of the area of Lech in Austria), while in Summer, GAH always reserved time for walking tours in the high mountains. The rough wilderness of the mountains would give him peace of mind for contemplation.

In 1968, GAH bought on first sight a parcel of land with a great mountain view, near Gstaad in Switzerland. The next year, the modern chalet was built, which from the start was intended as a family home. In1990, the couple finally retired to the chalet. Here, GAH combined his love for wild nature with the more intellectual pleasures of his extensive library on politics, religion and history.

End of December 2004, most unexpectedly, GAH was hospitalised at the Insel Hospital in Bern, where he died of an acute brain tumour, on the 10th of January 2005. GAH had loved his strong-minded grandmother Geziena Ten Doesschate Ten Doesschate. She died of age in 1944. On his request, GAH's ashes were laid to rest near her grave at the family graveyard on De Kranenburg, near Zwolle (Netherlands) on the 3rd of February 2005.

GAH always had been the driving spirit behind the family's efforts in the fields of art and heritage. One of these initiatives is Maecenas World Patrimony Foundation, which aims at the conservation of "orphaned" art objects at the United Nations' offices, such as Marc Chagall's Peace Window at the UN Building in New York and Paul Manship's landmark Celestial Sphere at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Many pieces of GAH's art collections were exhibited in museums in the Netherlands and abroad, also within the United Nations' program Dialogue among Civilizations. Part of his collections will remain on permanent loan for public view and historical research. In line with his adage, quoted from Sir Winston Churchill, "to change is to improve, to change often is to be perfect", groups of objects will be sold at auction. Part of the proceeds of these sales will be for the support of the family's heritage-conservation efforts.