Hester Hellenberg-VanderLeer

Hester Hellenberg-VanderLeer - Rochester, NY - Rochester Cremation

Born in Purmerend, Netherlands on Sunday January 12th, 1930 to Elizabeth Meijer-Hellenberg and Pieter Hellenberg.

Passed away in Rochester, New York, USA on Sunday, September 6th, 2020.

Predeceased by her parents and younger sister, Tineke Trijntje Hellenberg.

World War II began when she was 9 years old; by the end she was 15 years old.  She, like Audrey Hepburn, survived the Dutch famine of 1944–45, known in the Netherlands as the Hongerwinter (literal translation hunger winter.) It is estimated that 22,000 Dutch people died from starvation that winter. She despised throwing away food.

Hester completed her schooling after the war and her nurses training in 1952. Initially working in emergency and the operating room as a Registered Nurse.

She married Hendrik Adriaan VanderLeer, and together they immigrated to the United States.

She worked 30 years for the American Red Cross. Some of you may also remember her as the Eastridge high school nurse from 1976-1977.

She was strong, a strict parent and stubborn to the end. Appreciated and loved as a mother, grandmother (Oma), and great-grandmother, she provided guidance and support for many.

She is survived by four children.

In Raleigh, NC                               Peter (Linh Williams) VanderLeer

In Rochester, NY                           Judy (John) VanderLeer-Pata

In Washington, DC                        Robert (Paul) Kellett-VanLeer

In Manou, LA                                 Nicole ( Eddie) VanderLeer-Fontenot

Also in Rochester, NY                   Two grandchildren Vanessa (Eddie) Pata-Ruiz and Marian Pata.  One great-grandchild Isabelle Ruiz

She liked the outdoors, bicycling, soccer, flowers (especially tulips), cardinals, and the color red and blue. Passed the time reading books and solving Sudoku. She traveled to many locations for family, work and pleasure.  She also supported many school and scouting trips as a registered nurse.

She was a STRONG SUPPORTER of EDUCATION.  To her, education is the way to improve life, support family and democracy, and be good citizens in the world.

No services are planned per her request. Those wishing remember her are encouraged to raise a toast in honor of her life.  Memorials in her name may be made to an education or scholarship program, your choice or nurse training, or the American Red Cross.

She will be missed.

Please send correspondence to

Judy Pata

117 Pontiac Drive

Rochester, NY  14617


5 Condolences

  1. Frank & Charlotte Reitze on September 12, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    May she R.I.P. we toasted her in celebration of a life well-lived. With love from the Reitzes.❤️

  2. Maxie Fontenot on September 12, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    P prayers for your mother may she rest in peace and for her family all of her children she was a good woman very strong I so enjoyed meeting her.

  3. Irene Kellett. on September 13, 2020 at 11:56 am

    My sincere sympathy to you and your family. May Hester rest in peace.

  4. Neeta Helms on September 13, 2020 at 11:13 pm

    Dear Robert, I am sorry to hear this. You just mentioned her to me the other day. A ripe old age. She sounds very strong and resolute. Sending Love, Neeta Helms

  5. Tim Vassallo on September 14, 2020 at 8:44 am

    Very sorry

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