In Memoriam

Henk at the Van Waterschoot-van der Gracht prize award ceremony
Dr. Henk J.A. Berendsen
January 4, 1947 - May 14, 2007

It is with great sadness that we have to inform you that dr. Hendrik Johan Arnold Berendsen passed away on May 14, 2007. Three years ago Henk was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and soon it became evident that the disease ran an unusual course. The expected long survival was disturbed by fast proliferation of tumor cells and thrombocytopenia. Intensive therapies induced long periods of remission, in which Henk was able to function almost normally. He continued to visit his former workplace, updated his books on physical geography, gave some lectures and coached his PhD students. But because of anemia and thrombocytopenia he needed blood transfusions and platelets infusions with increasing frequency. One year ago it was deemed necessary to start a therapy with blood stem cells. Henk´s sister Henny appeared to present a perfect donor match. Three times Henk received these stem cells and his bone marrow was repopulated, his anemia disappeared and platelet counts normalized, the few remaining tumor cells disappeared and Henk had a good time, once more. Unfortunately, last month a severe Graft versus Host reaction attacked his skin, gastrointestinal tract and liver, and did not react to the usual therapy. In this way, the treatment that cured the tumor disease caused Henk´s death.

Henk was born in Lichtenvoorde, January 4, 1947. He married Helen Hilferink. They built a nice house in Wijk bij Duurstede where they lived with their two sons, Arnoud and René. Henk was a very active and enthusiastic man, who lived for his passion, the physical geography. He loved to visit North America, where all aspects of geomorphogenesis can be found in an enlarged way.

Since 1973 Henk inexhaustibly dedicated himself to physical geographical research, teaching and coaching, including the organization and performance of his popular and famous fieldwork ´Lowland genesis` with the students. During many years he contributed to the management of his Department. His main research interest was the morphogenesis of the Dutch fluvial area. He inspired many cohorts of undergraduate students, PhD students, and colleagues. His merits have been acknowledged nationally and internationally as was demonstrated, among others, when the honorable Van Waterschoot-Van der Gracht prize was presented to him in 2005. He was a keen observer and could be very direct in his judgment, resulting in his unmistakable Bullshit! or, in Dutch, Kansloos! (`prospectless´). He loved to play cabaret with students and colleagues, had a strong sense of humor and hated bragging.

Henk directed his work and life till the end. He will be missed and remembered.

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