Maria "Riet" DeKleermaeker, 89, of Camillus, passed away Wednesday at home surrounded by her loving family. Born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, she moved to Long Island, NY in 1957 and has lived in Camillus, NY since 1967. Riet worked
for over 30 years at Syracuse University’s Center for International Services where she created and managed the English Conversation Group program and retired in 2016 at the age of 83. The program has been in operation at SU for over 25 years and has since been replicated at universities across the country. Prior to becoming a mother, Riet worked for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and then at the United Nations in NYC. She was a communicant of St. Joseph's Church. Her proudest job was raising her children. She loved spending time with her family, friends and international students, who became very much a part of her family.
Riet selflessly committed her time and heart to support others within the community as a volunteer, specifically serving foreign students, immigrants and refugees. For years she was actively involved in the International Wives Organization, the International Center of Syracuse, taught with the English as a Second Language program and cofounded the American Family Dinner Program. Riet was honored as the recipient of the City of Syracuse Martin Luther King Celebration’s Unsung Hero Award. She also received the Ambassador Award of the International Center of Syracuse.
Riet was predeceased by her father, August van Wersch; mother, Francoise Martinot-van Wersch; sister, Agnes van Wersch-Moonen; and brother, Ferdinand van Wersch.
Surviving are her husband of 62 years, Marcel; children, Michael, Monique (Jeffrey), Paul (Serenity) and Peter (Kino); and grandchildren, Alexander, Eric, Michael, Raena and Kai.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated Monday, July 12 at 1 p.m. in St. Joseph's Church, 5600 W. Genesee St. Camillus.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to www.CARE.org or an organization of your choice. Riet’s wish is to love, accept and respect one another.