Henk A. Pols

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South Portland, ME

CAPE ELIZABETH - Henk A. Pols, 84, died peacefully in his sleep, at his home in Cape Elizabeth, on Feb. 9, 2019.

Henk was born on Sept. 7, 1934, in Dordrecht, The Netherlands. In 1940, when The Netherlands became occupied by Nazi soldiers, his school was converted for Nazi use and his classes were held in basements and other makeshift spaces. Blessed with an incredible sense of humor and resilience, Henk always looked back on these difficult times with positivity. One memory he relished sharing was of his first taste of a chocolate bar given to him by Canadian soldiers liberating his city.

At the war's end, Henk was able to pursue his lifelong love of football (soccer). Rising through the amateur ranks, he rapidly secured a starting defensive position with Emma, which was a feeder club for Feyenoord, a preeminent Dutch First Division team.

Realizing that future prospects in professional football were limited, due to the times, he shifted his focus to academics. After completing the Staatsexamen, a substantial academic achievement, Henk was selected for a highly competitive management-training program in the international banking industry. Anticipating the changing world climate and pending independence of Indonesia, where he was to be stationed, he transferred these skills to Holland America Line (HAL) and rose to the position of Purser on the S.S. Statendam.

It was at that time that he met Etta Vera Charlotte Louise Brockmoller, who was spending her summer working as a telephone operator on board ship. After a stinging defeat in a hotly contested game of ping-pong (which he always insisted that he threw), Henk and Etta soon became inseparable.

They were married in 1961, just before Henk was transferred to a land-based HAL position in New York. Later that year, they were thrilled to welcome their first daughter, Birgit, and three years later, their second daughter, Inger.

While working full-time and attending to his family, Henk applied himself voraciously to continuing his education at night. As none of his academic credentials from The Netherlands transferred to the United States, he was forced to start over at Rutgers University, where he was eventually named valedictorian of his graduating class – the first time an evening student attained such an honor. While furthering his employment with HAL, he immediately continued his education at New York University where he earned an MBA. Around this time, Henk and Etta welcomed their third daughter, Yvetta.

In 1973, he was handpicked by Lion Ferry as General Manager to take over the Portland, Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia route. Henk developed this one commercial ferry, the M.S. Prince of Fundy, into a gateway to Nova Scotia and the maritime provinces. Joined by the M.S. Bolero and the M.S. Caribe, and later the M.S. Scotia Prince, these efforts contributed significantly to the rejuvenation of the Portland waterfront.

Henk understood that a business was only as strong as its employees and partners, a novel philosophy at that time. Many people first experienced cross-disciplinary team building when they participated in the Prince of Fundy Olympics and other activities that Henk developed and led.

In spite of these substantial achievements, he may be best remembered for his daily walks around the parking lot, where he was at times mistaken for a parking attendant or thought to be looking for spare change.

On the death of the owner of Lion Ferry, Henk faced an important struggle as he sought to serve the best interests of the new owners, the employees, and community partners. While he was not able to see his vision to fruition, his intentions in this endeavor, to the end, were always for the best of others.

Henk enjoyed his retirement years with his four grandchildren. He was a lifelong learner and world traveler, and was proud to finally realize his dream of victory in his fantasy football league. Henk's only regret was not living to see The Netherlands win their well-deserved first World Cup.

He is survived by his wife, Etta; his daughters, Karen Birgit Pols, Inger A. Pols, and Yvetta Pols Sandhu and her husband, Karan Sandhu; and four grandchildren, Anton Heckel, Polina (Poe) Heckel, Kaeson Sandhu, and Ellix Sandhu.

Visiting hours will be 4-7 p.m., Thursday, February 14, at Hobbs Funeral Home, 230 Cottage Road, South Portland. A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m., Friday, February 15, at the funeral home. Condolences may be expressed online at www.hobbsfuneralhome.com.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Henk's memory to the charity of your choosing.

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Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Feb. 11, 2019
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