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HULKENBERG, Bernardus Wilhelmus (Benny the Baker)

September 30, 1926 – Naarden, Netherlands
January 8, 2018 – Calgary, Alberta

Ben passed away peacefully Monday, January 8, 2018 at the age of 91 years.

He was born in Naarden, North Holland, the Netherlands and was the middle child of eleven children. His mother passed away when he was only ten.

He was an extremely resourceful man, who did not let circumstances hinder or overwhelm him. This quality helped when he escaped from a cattle car destined for a German Camp. His attributes played a fundamental role during his time with the Dutch Resistance, in World War II, when he was faced with many heroic and tragic encounters. Most of his stories would end with a crazy antic and a lesson learned. Ben saw the humanity in individual soldiers, but wrestled with the demon of war. In the following years, he channeled his energy into attaining his black belt in Judo (he was proud to say that world Judo champion, Anton Geesink was his sparring partner) and Jujitsu training.

When Canadian soldiers freed Holland, Ben developed a deep love and respect of Canada, which catapulted his decision to immigrate there. Ben left for Canada in April of 1954. Upon his arrival, he worked as a farm hand on the EP (Prince of Wales) Ranch. In 1954-55, he mixed concrete for the Travers Dam, eventually moving to Calgary. It was there that, at the Church of Assumption in October of 1955, he laid eyes upon the love of his life, and married her in July 1956. In 1960, Ben opened his own bakery (Benny’s Bakery) from 1960-1978. Ben always took care of business, family and worthy causes. He was driven, determined and devout.

Ben was active in Church and community, notably the Knights of Columbus 4965 and ushering for Our Lady of Perpetual Help for forty-five years. Ben was successfully awarded, and ran, the first casinos for the Knights from 1979 – 1983 and then for Crescent Heights Community Association.

In later years, Ben became a globe-trotter. He and Yoka travelled to many wonderful places, visiting family, old friends and making new ones.

Ben is survived by his sweetheart of sixty-one years Johanna (Yoka) née Wassenaar; daughter and son-in-law Joann and Tom Jonasson, and their children Dr. Kristin and Erik; son and daughter-in-law James and Linda Hulkenberg, and their children Tia-Ashley, Cameron, and Jaime; son and daughter-in-law Ronald and Minako Hulkenberg, and their children Shion and Keishi; son and daughter-in-law Capt. Randall and Heather Hulkenberg, and their children Brendan and Dean; daughter and son-in-law Veronique and Sherwin Haynes and their children Malaki and Meisha. Ben is also survived by two sisters Dora Jansen and Lousia Loots, in The Netherlands; sister-in-law Corry Spagis of Exshaw; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church (640 -19th Avenue N.W., Calgary, AB) on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. Reception to follow at the Church. Condolences may be forwarded through If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to Dyslexia Canada, 3621 Baird Court, Mississauga, Ontario L5L 4T5, The family would like to thank EMS, Calgary Fire Service, and the Calgary Police Service for their assistance.

In living memory of Ben Hulkenberg, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Chapel of the Bells, 2720 CENTRE STREET NORTH, Telephone: 403-276-2296.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Robert & Marie Mile :

    We wanted to share our condolences with Benny’s family. It is never easy to have to say goodbye to a loved one. The pain of loss can be unbearable. Our Creator promises us that one day this pain will be just a memory. That beautiful promise can be found at Revelation 21:3,4. Our pain and suffering will be a thing of the past, and we can cry tears of joy as we welcome back the ones that we love so much. We hope you find comfort in those promises.

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  2. Dear Yoka,
    May your heart find comfort and your soul find peace while you look back at the treasured memories that the two of you created together.

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  3. Johan en Sandra Bastings-Loots :

    Beste tante Yoka,
    Heel veel sterkte gewenst met het verlies van ome Ben. Ook heel veel sterkte gewenst aan de rest van de familie. Koester de mooie herinneringen die jullie samen hebben gemaakt. Wij zullen hem nooit vergeten.

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  4. Judy and Mundi Isford :

    Dear Joann, Tom, Kristin and Erik,
    What a wonderful tribute to Benny the Baker! Our thoughts and prayers are with you and all of the Hulkenberg family. He led an interesting, adventurous life, remaining close to family. May he rest in Peace, knowing he was loved.

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  5. Gerry Manzara :

    Dear Yoka and Family,
    My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. It is not easy losing the ones we love but, our memories do keep them alive in our hearts.
    As a Kindergarten teacher at St Angela School way back in the 70’s I have fond memories of your family’s participation in our various classroom and field trip activities – always happy and smiling. Peace be with you all.

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  6. Annette Valerio :

    To the Hulkenberg family,
    It was with great sadness we read about your husband and father’s passing. We all share fond memories of your dad from O.L.P.H. and the bakery when our mom would send us for bread. May you find comfort in your many happy memories of him.

    Nina Valerio, Annette Valerio, Adrian Valerio and Adele Zuchetto

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  7. Diane and Ron :

    I remember visiting his Bakery as a child. When they did the Century Homes program a few years ago I walked the community to read the information on the homes as I grew up in the community. I stopped and read the story at Mr Hulkenberg’s home and he came out right away. I told him I recognized him then he told me who he was. He wished his wife was home as he said she would also enjoy a good chat. We chatted out front for quite a while. As it happens I also knew some Descendants of the family that built his home.

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  8. Willy Smolka (nee Tishauser) :

    Our thoughts and prayers are with your family in this sad time. I remember when your whole family came to our farm in Crossfield for the first time, and Ron and I became pen pals for a time. It was a pleasure to get to know Cameron and Jaime at Father Lacombe High school, and I often saw Vicki at Mark’s Work Wear House. Mr. and Mrs. Hulkenberg would visit my mom and dad on occasion, and my father often spoke of Benny the Baker fondly, as he worked for him for a period of time, learning the craft of bread making. Dad still has the bread pans and continues to bake bread every week.
    God bless you all in this time of sorrow.

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  9. To Yoka and family,
    Our thoughts are with you in your loss. Benny was a remarkable person – a big character with a bigger heart. He was kind to us when we were starting our own business in his old bakery. Always generous with advice and enthusiasm for all things baking, Benny (and James too) were ‘built in’ to the bakery and we greatly benefited from his presence. Reminiscing about Benny brings us lots of smiles.
    With respect and sympathy,
    Nan Eskenazi and Michael Going

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  10. Dear all, sorry for the late response. We wish you all our condolences. To lose your dad and husband leaves a great gap, no matter his age. He built your future and he did a great job. We will always remember him and have so much good memories of our visit to Canada. Wish you all the strength to go on and take care of your mom.
    Love Eric & Nicole Steenvoorden

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