'Major' Bosshardt dies

26th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

26 June 2007, AMSTERDAM (AP) - Alida Bosshardt, a Christian acclaimed for her decades of work among the prostitutes and drug addicts of Amsterdam, died Monday, the Salvation Army said. She was 94.

26 June 2007

AMSTERDAM (AP) - Alida Bosshardt, a Christian acclaimed for her decades of work among the prostitutes and drug addicts of Amsterdam, died Monday, the Salvation Army said. She was 94.

A spokeswoman for the Salvation Army said she died of "old age." "She had heart troubles and kidney problems, but this was really just old age: her body was deteriorating at the end," said spokeswoman Hella van der Schoot.

Bosshardt joined the Salvation Army in 1934 and was instructed to work with women in Amsterdam's Red Light District shortly after the end of World War II.

A "Goodwill" centre she established in the area eventually became a hub where volunteers cared for not only prostitutes and their children, but offered shelter to the homeless and a wide range of social services to drug addicts and other troubled people attracted to the area.

She retired in 1978 at age 65, but continued volunteering and attending public gatherings until shortly before her death.

"When you join the Salvation Army, you put yourself at the disposal of the Lord, and even though she was formally retired, she always remained active," Van der Schoot said. "She was the best ambassador we had."

Condolences poured in from all corners of the country on Monday, including from Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who praised her "wisdom, love, and compassion" on national television.

Bosshardt was universally known as "Major" Bosshardt in the Netherlands, though she actually advanced to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Salvation Army's ranks.

Among her many awards were a knighthood in the Netherlands' Order of Oranje Naussau in 2004. The Royal House said Monday that Queen Beatrix was "moved" by the death. While Beatrix was the country's crown princess in 1965 she spent an evening in disguise, following Bosshardt on her rounds.

Bosshardt was given a 'righteous among nations' award by Israel's Yad Vashem for helping Jewish children during the war, often riding them on her bicycle to homes where they would go into hiding.

"I'm in God's service to serve people," Bosshardt said once when receiving an award. "All honour goes to him, not me."

Her closest surviving family are distant nieces and nephews, Van der Schoot said. Her funeral is scheduled for June 30.

[Copyright AP 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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