ROCKLAND………Levina Gerritsen, 95, died on Feb 19, 2022 at Bartlett Woods in Rockland, Maine.
Levina "Fien" Gerritsen was born in 1926 in a small town in The Netherlands. At 16, she met Frans Gerritsen at a folk dance, and against the dangerous and turbulent backdrop of WWII, they fell in love. Their marriage lasted 72 years, until Frans's death in 2020, a partnership so enduring that Fien said: “Fien and Frans is like a single word." One did not make sense without the other.
While Frans completed his engineering degree, they lived in the downstairs apartment behind his parents' shop. Using fabrics and second-hand furnishings, Fien transformed that grim apartment into a beautiful space. This early flair for style was a harbinger for her success as an artist decades later.
In 1956, Frans took a job in Florida. Now with three small children, the family bravely headed to America. Despite the challenges of learning English, Fien made friends easily, and the family reveled in the joys of their new country: swimming in the clear, cool water of Manatee Springs and camping in the Great Smoky Mountains. It was much to Fien's sadness when Frans accepted a job at the Dutch Ministry of Water Works and the family (now with four children) had to return to Holland.
But America called to them again in 1969, when Frans was invited by the University of Hawaii to become a professor of Ocean Engineering. Fien bloomed as a fiber artist in Hawaii, a place she would always call her "spiritual home," and her non-traditional quilts were honored at numerous juried shows and incorporated into the Honolulu Academy of Arts collection.
Frans was her enthusiastic supporter and he would often kneel beside her on the living room floor as they discussed her latest piece in progress, debating color, texture and design.
Frans's work as an ocean engineer took them to countries around the world, and Fien was an avid travel companion, visiting museums, markets and nearby towns to pick up fabrics that would later find their way into her art. She also brought home recipes from around the world, and the Thanksgiving dinners she hosted for Frans's foreign students were feasts of international dishes.
A fierce supporter of her children's education, she refused to hear “no” for an answer when the admissions director at the prestigious Punahou School told her they would not consider her daughter Liesbeth's application because she was from another country. Fien argued that they should see a different culture as an addition rather than a deficit. Liesbeth was accepted.
After Frans's retirement, Fien and Frans moved to Rockland, Maine, to be close to family. Here Fiens quickly made a brand-new circle of friends and became a devoted member of the First Universalist Church. Till the very end, she loved talking about politics and was unapologetically liberal, with strong opinions that she was more than happy to share.
When the hospice pastor asked her what she thought happened after we died, Fien said: "If I knew that, I would win the Nobel prize.”
Wherever Fien is now, she is no doubt winning all the prizes.
She is survived by four children: Corine, Jacob, Herman, and Liesbeth; eight grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
The Gerritsen family would like to thank the entire staff of Bartlett Woods and Beacon Hospice
for the tender loving care they gave to our mother in the last weeks of her life.
Services will be held on May 21, 2022 at 10 am at The First Universalist Church in Rockland, Maine.
Arrangements are in the care of Long Funeral Home in Camden.
To share a memory or condolence with the Gerritsen
family, please visit their Book of Memories at
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to:
The First Universalist Church, 345 Broadway
Rockland, ME 04841
or online at
Or to the local food bank: AIO: https://www.aiofoodpantry.org/donate-now
Address: Area Interfaith Outreach, P.O. Box 113, Rockland Maine 04841.