IN MEMORIAM: Dineke de Koster

It is with immense sadness and huge gratitude that we bid farewell to our beloved Dineke de Koster (1930 – 2024), who passed away peacefully at her home in Wassenaar, near The Hague, in The Netherlands, on 25 June, just a couple of weeks before her 94th birthday.

Dineke de Koster has been one of the main pillars of strength for Europa Nostra since 1984, when her late husband Hans de Koster (who served as Minister of Defense of The Netherlands and President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) became President of our organisation. Since that time, Dineke de Koster has played a pivotal role in the day-to-day management and administration of Europa Nostra, entirely on a voluntary basis. Initially Deputy Treasurer, she succeeded Dino Leventis from Cyprus as Treasurer during the period of 2002-2007. These positions required her to undertake the ever-growing task of handling the total financial administration of our organisation, as well as that of mapping out a comprehensive financial policy for Europa Nostra. She remained closely involved and committed after her term ended in 2007, as a much-appreciated adviser and most generous maecenas, up to the very last moments of her life.

Dineke (1)

Dineke de Koster’s dedication to the organisation has far exceeded her role as Treasurer. She has always found the time to contribute – in countless ways – to the harmony within the Secretariat and to the well-being of the staff members in The Hague. Without her discrete yet most generous donations, Europa Nostra would not have been able to achieve many of its ambitions. Dineke de Koster’s close involvement in the management of Europa Nostra and her regular presence at the Secretariat have provided a dynamic stimulus and has served as a powerful example, not only for the staff in The Hague, but also for the organisation as a whole.

Together with her late husband, Dineke was especially dedicated to supporting the expansion and the strengthening of Europa Nostra’s network and activities in Central and Eastern Europe. In this way, she wished to encourage the necessary inclusion of this part of Europe in the ongoing process of European integration. It is therefore very fitting that the special fund created back in 1992, in support of our members and partners from Central and Eastern Europe, and to which Dineke de Koster and her family contributed so generously, today bears the name of “Dineke and Hans de Koster Fund”. Over a period of more than three decades this fund has effectively helped to better connect West and East within our ever-growing pan-European heritage movement and family.

Last but not least, it is thanks to the great generosity of Hans and Dineke de Koster and their family, that Europa Nostra was fortunate to have its headquarters in The Hague for 34 years at the historic building located on Lange Voorhout 35, one of the most beautiful lanes in The Netherlands and in the whole of Europe. Lange Voorhout 35 was so much more than an office for us; it was our European home!

In recognition of so many years of her generous voluntary dedication to the field of cultural heritage and also to the field of sport, Dineke de Koster was conferred the honour of becoming a Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau. This high royal decoration was presented to her by H.E. Erik Ader, then Dutch Ambassador to Norway, during the Europa Nostra Annual Conference held in Bergen in 2005.

2005 Bergen flouen GKB orde

Two years later, at the impressive Town Hall of Stockholm, Dineke de Koster received from the hands of our then President, His Royal Highness the Prince Consort of Denmark, her Europa Nostra Medal of Honour, the highest distinction which Europa Nostra bestows upon European personalities that have offered very special voluntary service to our organisation. This Medal of Honour was conferred to her “for her boundless generosity, unrestrained dedication, great energy and remarkable efficiency, which epitomise a genuine spirit of voluntary service and have enabled Europa Nostra to grow and develop from strength to strength”. She received this highly deserved distinction 15 years after her late husband Hans received the same medal. They are surely the only couple in Europe which received two Europa Nostra Medals of Honour, each for their own merit!

2007 Stockholm DSC_0952

Lieve Dineke, we shall miss your unwavering friendship, your wisdom and advice, your remarkable efficiency and pragmatic spirit and, above all, your unique sense of humour. We shall miss your visits to the office with your wonderfully kind and loyal dogs. We shall miss your Sinterklaas poems and our Christmas celebrations. We shall miss your whistling and positive energy which you were radiating around you, every single day of your life. Indeed, we have never seen you down, even in the most difficult moments of your life. Thank you for your amazing power of example!” said Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, who had the privilege and joy of knowing and working with Dineke for a period of 33 years, during her moving tribute at the funeral of Dineke de Koster.

The following words of our dear Dineke will continue to resonate in our hearts and minds: “Heritage belongs to all of us, young and old, irrespective of one’s ethnic, cultural or religious background. I strongly believe that cultural heritage binds us all together as human beings – across time and across borders.”

Europa Nostra remains deeply indebted to Dineke de Koster’s generosity and truly grateful for her unconditional and selfless commitment. We shall honour Dineke’s memory and carry forward her immense legacy.

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