Cover photo for Anna Maria "Annie" Riezebos's Obituary
Anna Maria "Annie" Riezebos Profile Photo
1931 Anna 2022

Anna Maria "Annie" Riezebos

February 15, 1931 — September 22, 2022

Anna Maria Van Harmelen was born in Den Haag, the Netherlands on February 15, 1931. She had a happy childhood, but at age nine, life changed dramatically during the German occupation of Holland. With schools shut, no radio, lights or heating, and parents searching the countryside for food to bring home, Anna and her four siblings would entertain themselves with makeshift puppet shows, singing, poetry writing and lots of reading. It’s probably where Anna’s love of reading, theatre and crafting came from. As many children were starving in the cities and with constant air raids, she and her siblings were rescued by the Red Cross and sheltered by families in the farmlands. When the war ended, she was forever grateful to the American liberating forces. Anna shared many stories of her family’s survival in later years, and always reminded her sons of how so many in the United States had sacrificed their lives for Europe’s (and the world’s) freedom.

Upon WWII’s end, the massive rebuilding of post-war Europe brought Anna to France, where she worked in a small village grocery store and as au pair, teaching herself the French language, and then to Belgium to work in a café learning Flemish along the way. As life began to normalize back home, she joined a women’s water polo team and being a strong swimmer, she was recruited as the team’s goalie. Her team, along with the men’s team would ride their bicycles to polo matches all around the country. When it was evening, they’d stop at a random farm house and ask the owner if they (all 25+ of them) could sleep in the barn. No buses, hotels, fast food, or chaperones—just sack lunches from home, and hay to sleep on for the night! At home, her fondest memory of her mother was drinking tea with her in their small kitchen with a speculaas cookie and much ‘kletsen’. Translation: ‘chatting’.

Anna met her husband, Gerard, and the two married in 1957. Gerard had big plans though. He wanted to pursue the ‘American Dream’, so they immigrated to the U.S.A. in 1959. For love of all things American, they changed their names to ‘Annie’ and ‘Jerry’. With their two sons in tow, they quickly moved from Los Angeles to the Central Coast where they took an opportunity to be co-owners of the first full-service dental lab in Santa Maria, California. So good with numbers, Annie worked as bookkeeper for many years at the Riezebos Dental Laboratory. Tea time break was a daily ritual at the lab.

Annie and Jerry loved the kindness and openness of the people in their newfound country. They particularly loved the spirit of volunteerism. Annie joined the ‘Pink Ladies’ and the ‘LARKS’ at the hospital: both organizations making childrens’ stays a better experience, as well as the PTA, Cub Scouts, and Boys Club, to name a few. They both loved the arts, theatre, exploring the beauty of California, many parts of the world, and family trips back to the Netherlands. They had *many* parties, hosted exchange students, always had relatives visiting, and they loved BBQs, potlucks, and jumped at any opportunity to be with friends of all kinds. Annie’s favorite saying was ‘Our door is always open’ at home. Annie did love her pink wine and chocolate, loved their dogs ‘puff’ and ‘snoopie’, she liked knitting, embroidery, and of course, a cup of tea with a cookie (even her dear friend Karolyn figured out the recipes to these very tasty dutch cookies)! Annie was supportive to anyone who needed it, loving, fun, and ‘always’ had a kind thing to say to a stranger. She dearly loved her grandchildren and followed their every step. She will be greatly missed by them, her sons and their families, and friends.

Annie is survived by her son Yvo Riezebos and Gregg Holzbaur-Riezebos of Kansas City MO, son Franklin Gerald Riezebos and Stacy Marie Riezebos, grandchildren Devin Nicole Riezebos, Analise Marie Carlotti and Derek Carlotti, and Gerrit Franklin Riezebos all of Santa Maria, CA, as well as her brother Bert Van Harmelen and Wil Van Harmelen of the Netherlands, nephew Stefan Van Harmelen and Susan Van Harmelen, and sons Christopher Van Harmelen and Jonathan Van Harmelen all of Templeton, CA, and nephews and nieces in the Netherlands.

Annie was preceded in death by her loving husband, Jerry, her parents Lambertus and Gijsberta Van Harmelen, brother Jan Van Harmelen and Kita Van Harmelen from Santa Maria, CA, and sisters Henny Van Harmelen and Joyce Van Harmelen, all from the Netherlands.
Our family would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to Kansas City Hospice, who provided exceptional comfort and care to our Annie, Clay’s steady calm, Sue, and to Angela for the time spent with her: drawing, creating, laughing, and being a true friend to her and to us!
Knowing Annie, she would be saying ‘please don’t send me flowers now, instead, send flowers to a friend going through a rough patch, and be sure to smile at a stranger—they might need it too.'

Online condolences may be expressed at (Arrangements: Speaks Suburban Chapel 816-373-3600)
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Anna Maria "Annie" Riezebos, please visit our flower store.


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