Nelly Van Harten Schroeder (July 06, 1931 - February 05, 2024)

In loving memory of
Nelly Van Harten Schroeder
  • July 06, 1931
  • -
  • February 05, 2024

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Nelly van Harten Schroeder passed away peacefully on February 5 at home in The Villages, Florida. She was 92 years old.

Nelly van Harten was born on July 6, 1931, to Klaas and Gerrtije van Harten in Ter Aar, the Netherlands. She attended the Effatha School for the Deaf in Voorburg, beginning when she was seven. While there, she met and fell in love with her schoolmate, George “Lody” Lodewyk Schroeder.

Nelly’s childhood was marked by the Second World War. She often enthralled her children and grandchildren with stories of survival as a deaf child, walking to and from school every day, occasionally hiding from fighter planes when warned by her hearing siblings, and of the allied Canadian forces that operated in her hometown.

George proposed to Nelly during one of their daily walks through their city. They married on June 27, 1952, in Voorburg. Together, they welcomed five children over nine years: Carl Nicholas (1952), Meriam Ina (1955), David Sebastian (1957), Yvonne Caroline (1959), and Gerhard “Olger” Lodewyk (1961).

Three of their five children were deaf. Recognizing the lack of quality education for deaf children past a certain age in the Netherlands at the time, George and Nelly decided to emigrate to the United States of America so that all five of their children would have access to better schools.

George and Nelly dutifully submitted their visa applications. After several months with no movement on their paperwork, they wrote directly to then – U.S. President John F. Kennedy to explain their situation and ask that he intercede. President Kennedy responded to the letter and personally had their application expedited in June of 1963. Within three months, the family of seven pulled up roots and moved across the Atlantic Ocean to settle in Cheverly, Maryland. They arrived on September 21, 1963, on the sixth birthday of their middle child, David.

George and Nelly later moved to Greenbelt, Maryland, to Gaithersburg, Maryland, and finally, to The Villages, Florida.

Throughout the span of her nine decades on earth, Nelly discovered and fostered many passions and talents. She loved being a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother and caring for others. She enjoyed photography, scrapbooking, cross-stitching, flower arranging, playing games as a family, and, much to the delight of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, exercising her knack for spectacular gift wrapping. Nelly was also beloved by friends she made through every period of her life, from those she grew up with in Ter Aar to those she made in Pine Ridge village.

In 1997, at the age of 66, Nelly decided she wanted to give back and return to the workforce. For 15 years, she was a faithful volunteer at the Office of Alumni Relations in the historic Peikoff Alumni House, or “Ole Jim,” on the Gallaudet University campus in Washington, D.C. She enjoyed meeting alumni of all ages and is remembered fondly by many of those she worked with.

Nelly made regular trips back to Europe to visit with her beloved family and lifelong friends. Two of her most memorable trips were in 2011, when her daughters took her to visit her 50th state on an Alaskan cruise to celebrate her 80th birthday, and in 2023, her final cruise to the Bahamas with George and her family to celebrate 71 years of marriage.

Nelly is survived by her husband of nearly 72 years, George; two daughters, Meriam (Kathy Fairfield) and Yvonne (Cole Price); four grandchildren, Justin Gabriel (Christina Stafford), Vivienne Ruth (Travis Clevenger), Michael Aaron (Nicole Price), and Deborah Alexis; two great-grandchildren, Delilah Ivette and Magnolia Ivelisse; two siblings (Ankie and Klaas); as well as a nephew (Jeroen) and two great-nephews (Lucien and Christopher).

She will now join her mother, three sons, David (1993), Olger (1996), and Carl (2013), as well as her brother Bas (2015), in the North Sea.

In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be sent to the family at 3293 Webster Way, The Villages, FL 32163, or via email to

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  1. Bob & Tina Smart says:
    27 Feb 2024
    Nelly will be greatly missed! She was so warm and friendly with everyone. We loved her for that.

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