Derk T. A. Huibers of Pennington, NJ, died on July 6, 2021, after a brief illness.
He was born on March 22, 1934, in Arnhem, the Netherlands, to Anna and Adriaan Huibers, the eldest of three sons.
He had a challenging childhood. The family survived occupation and evacuation during World War II, and at the age of 15, he lost his father. Derk’s high school mathematics teacher encouraged him to attend the Technische Universiteit Delft, and helped him with the application process. Derk studied Chemical Engineering, and after he completed his master’s degree, took a year to study abroad under the international Fulbright Program. This brought him to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA where he studied physical chemistry, experienced American life, and made lifelong friends. He then returned to the Netherlands, completing a PhD in 1960.
After deciding to emigrate to the United States, his first employment was in Buffalo, NY, where he did research in specialty chemicals. It was there that he met and married his wife, Elizabeth.
In 1964 he joined the Lummus Company, an engineering construction company in New Jersey. During this time he was sent on a year long assignment near Grado, Italy. Later, Derk joined the Air Reduction Co. in Murray Hill NJ. Here he was involved with improving the liquid hydrogen fuel delivery system for the Saturn V rocket in the Apollo moon program, and also became a US citizen.
In 1969, he accepted a position with a Dutch company, now called AKZO Nobel, managing new venture development in the US. He enjoyed this renewed interaction with the Netherlands, and was a member of the Netherlands Club in NYC for many years.
Returning to engineering, he was employed by the Union Camp Corporation in Lawrenceville NJ, in research and development, where he worked for the last 15 years of his career. A main task was the redesign and construction of distillation plants and he also developed methods to turn the by-products of paper making into valuable chemicals. He was an active member of the Princeton sections of the American Chemical Society and was a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
After retirement, he enjoyed visits with his children on trips to New England and California and Hawaii, as well as renewing ties to the Netherlands. He enjoyed living in Pennington, swimming at the Penn Brook Club in the summer, visiting the library, and attending the presentations of the Princeton 55PLUS club. He was a member of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Pennington.
He will be remembered for his friendliness, kindness and consistent positive outlook.
Derk is survived by his beloved wife of 59 years, Elizabeth, sons Paul (Thanh) of Stratham, NH, and Andrew (Martha) of Los Altos, CA, grandchildren Evan and Emily, and his brother Jan Willem of Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. He was predeceased by his brother, Adriaan.
Funeral arrangements were private. Donations in Derk’s memory may be made to the Pennington First Aid Squad, 110 Broemel Place, Pennington, NJ 08534.