It is with great sadness that we must announce that Rob van Ree, for 23 years a member of the Board and treasurer of the Hydrographic Society Benelux (HSB), passed away on 16 July 2023. Rob was a senior lecturer in Hydrography at the Maritiem Instituut Willem Barentsz on Terschelling, the Netherlands. He was also instrumental in the start of Hydro International in 1996 and was a contributing editor and member of the editorial board for many years, supporting the publication throughout its existence. Hydro International is greatly indebted for his support, wisdom and kindness, and wishes his family and friends courage and strength with this great loss.
Rob had a dynamic mind, thought outside the box, and was not put off by difficulties when implementing plans. If a board member mentioned reservations, Rob’s enthusiasm and ‘can-do’ mentality was often enough for everyone to join together in support of the proposal. Rob not only had ideas, but almost always realized them too.
Rob was also a great advocate of socializing, for example after board meetings. He loved Indonesian food, and to make sure he got what he wanted, he often reserved the tables himself. The ‘brilliant’ ideas that we had during these get-togethers were written down on beer mats and napkins and later converted into ‘official’ minutes to make sure the ideas were not lost.
Examples of his commitment and work are the HYDRO events organized by the HSB. Rob was, with his experience, the spider in the web between the project team and HSB to bring things to a positive conclusion and meet the objectives (more often than not set by Rob himself), which were ‘no big financial loss and no substantial earnings’. Rob was HSB’s representative at IFHS board meetings for many years, a role that he very much enjoyed.
Rob became involved with hydrography during his compulsory service with the Hydrographic Service of The Royal Netherlands Navy. Rob lived for hydrography and leaves a legacy of generations of students who have enjoyed and learned so much from his enthusiasm and active involvement. How lucky they were to have such an enthusiastic and passionate instructor.
Rob resigned, at his request, as treasurer as well as board member in 2019 due to health problems. Rob had been treasurer for 23 years, an absolute record and not a single dissenting voice was heard among HSB members when the rule of a maximum of nine years in the function was neglected by the Board. Rob became an Honorary Member of HSB, for his many and outstanding merits.
Rob was not only interested in hydrography: he was blessed with a sharp and inquiring mind. At every Board meeting, he brought up a topic that interested and enthralled him, about which he informed us with his great enthusiasm. Ron also loved sailing and was driven to understand the theoretical aspects of things, such as how to maximize the sailing speed. This and his optimistic spirit came together when – already diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease – he bought an open sailing dinghy (Olympic Flying Dutchman class) that required no little maintenance. He started enthusiastically making plans to restore the boat to a fine racing sail boat, but alas, limited by his health, he was unable to finish this project.
Rob was unlucky with his health, initially suffering from cancer from which he was cured. Later in life, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, which he managed but then, sadly, the cancer struck again, which proved fatal.
Rob’s death notice sums up his attitude to life:
Rob has set sail
To the eternal ocean
He has had a wonderful life
And would have liked to stay a while
Rob will be dearly missed by all those who had the good fortune to know him; may they find the strength to live with the loss of such a kind man.
Based on the initial obituary written by Leeke van der Poel, first paragraph added by Durk Haarsma