Oscar Smaalders | 1924-2019

Oscar Willem Johannes Smaalders left us on August 31, 2019 at the age of 95. A librarian and economist, Oscar was passionate about peace, social justice, and the welfare of the earth.

Born in Amsterdam, on March 24, 1924, his experiences living in Nazi-occupied Holland during World War II shaped his life-long views as a pacifist.

Eager to leave post-war Europe, he joined the Dutch Merchant Marine, which led to his entering the United States as an undocumented immigrant on Sept. 1, 1947. He studied economics at Peoria University and UCLA, and he later earned an M.S. in library science from USC in 1958. He married Alie Elisabeth Wiegersma, a Dutch librarian, in 1954. He worked as the city librarian in Chehalis, Washington, where Oscar and Alie’s three children, twins Karen and Bart (1958) and Mark (1960) were born. Subsequently he ran libraries in Santa Fe Springs and Stanislaus County.

In 1982 Oscar and Alie moved to Lopez Island where they built a home with the help of their family. Among many projects, Oscar built a gaff rigged wooden sailboat, which he and Alie sailed locally for many years.

Oscar fought for peace and against injustice. During the Vietnam War he counseled young men who sought Conscientious Objector status and took his family on peace marches in San Francisco. As a librarian, he advocated for the rights of migrant workers in the Central Valley, and on Lopez he addressed the lack of affordable housing in San Juan County, which included serving on the Lopez Island Community Land Trust Board of Directors.

Oscar was devoted to his wife and his children, believing that “time is worth more than money,” a message often delivered, even on the last day of his life. He cared for Alie until she passed away in March 2018. He lived the last two years in Mountain Glen Retirement Home, Mount Vernon, Washington. Oscar is survived by his children and their partners, Karen (Phil), Bart (Barbie) and Mark (Christine) and his five grandchildren, Lorin, Brian, Alison, Galen, and Marlise.

Please join us as we celebrate the life of Oscar Willem Johannes Smaalders on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, from 2-6 p.m. at the Lopez Grange. We look forward to sharing food, memories and song. To read more, please visit https://oscarsmaalders.wordpress.com.