Wilhelmine ‘Wilma’ Klinkenberg
Feb. 13, 1923 – Dec. 18, 2020
Wilhelmine (Wilma) Klinkenberg, née Menting, 96, passed away in her home in Alameda, on Dec. 18, 2020, surrounded by her children and grandson. Wilma was an exceptionally strong and selfless woman who will always be remembered for her limitless kindness, caring, generosity, hard work, loyalty, spiritual nature, and unwavering commitment to family.
Wilma was born in Subang, Indonesia — then known as the Dutch East Indies — on Feb. 13, 1924. She spent her first 10 years growing up on a rubber plantation with her three younger siblings. Her father, a Dutchman, was the plantation’s accountant while her mother, an Indonesian native, was a homemaker. In 1934, her father arranged boarding in Holland to allow for her and her younger sister, Carla, to attend school.
In 1939, World War II broke out and the Netherlands was invaded by the German army in 1940. In 1942, while Wilma lived in Holland, the Japanese invaded the Dutch East Indies. Her parents and brother were eventually put into prisoner-of-war camps. Her father did not survive the camp and Wilma never saw him again.
Wilma eventually became a nurse in Utrecht, Netherlands. At one point, she had no conventional housing and lived in a hospital while taking care of patients until the war’s end in 1945. She coped by finding her life’s purpose: dedicating her time and energy to caring for the sick and wounded during German occupation.
Wilma was a true survivor. As a child and young adult, Wilma lived through the horrors of a horrendous war, separated from friends and family; not knowing if they were dead or alive. Her resilience and inner strength kept her going. She never gave up, despite many obstacles and challenges.
In August 1948, Wilma married Daniel C. Klinkenberg (d. 1997), with whom she had two children, Carla and Henk Martijn. Eventually, the family was approved for United States citizenship and obtained a U.S. sponsor. The family embarked on a boat trip to the U.S. leaving Holland in December 1956, with little money and few belongings. They landed in New York City in January 1957.
After completing a one year farm work commitment in Hancock and Red Wing, Minn, the family moved to Alameda, where Wilma spent the last 62 years of her life. Life was very difficult while adjusting to a new culture, learning a new language, finding work, raising children, and having left family and friends behind.
A homemaker until 1972, Wilma went back to school to earn an Associate’s Degree of Arts in Fashion Arts from Laney College in Oakland. She cultivated her gift for sewing and spent the next decades sewing and knitting items for family and friends.
From the early 1980s until 2016, Wilma volunteered at the Alameda Hospital and the Mastick Senior Center, where she selflessly donated her time and energy to serving others. She loved people, especially babies and young children.
From 2016 until her death, she remained active and engaged, while continuously cared for by loving family members. Wilma enjoyed volunteering but, her first love was gardening. She had a spiritual connection with the earth and found solace and peace working in her beautiful garden. She had a special connection with her favorite plants; roses.
Wilma is survived by her devoted daughter and son, Carla Sommers of Alameda, and Henk Martijn Klinkenberg of Lafayette, and her grandchildren: Michael Murphy, Jaqueline Randolph-Giral, Abigail Klinkenberg, and Olivia Klinkenberg; and great-grandchildren: Amira Campbell, Etienne Giral, Jr., and Adrian Murphy; and her beloved cat and best friend, Pepper.
The family of Wilma Klinkenberg wishes to express their appreciation and thanks to Wilma’s friends, family, and neighbors for the many expressions of kindness, flowers, and cards. There will be no funeral services but, in lieu of honoring and celebrating Wilma’s life, the family asks that you plant a rose bush in your garden in her memory.