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Deli Brink Bloembergen
Deli Brink Bloembergen
Deli Brink Bloembergen
Deli Brink Bloembergen

Obituary of Deli Brink Bloembergen


OCTOBER 11, 1928 – JUNE 19, 2019


It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our mother, Deli Bloembergen.Throughout her eventful life, Deli was resilient, determined and strong-willed. A gifted pianist, original textile artist and women’s rights activist, Deli will be remembered for her creative energy, outgoing personality and the warm welcome she bestowed on newcomers wherever she lived. She was loved and valued by her husband, family and friends.


Huberta Deliana “Deli” Brink Bloembergen died in Tucson, Arizona on June 19, 2019 at the age of 90.

Deli was born in Soerakarta on the island of Java in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) on October 11, 1928 to Rinse Brink and Nantje Jantine Meijer Brink. Deli’s idyllic childhood came to an abrupt end with the Japanese invasion of Indonesia in early 1942. Deli suffered severe deprivation at Camp Halmaheira under the Japanese occupation. After the prison camp was liberated in August 1945, Deli was one of the first to receive the miracle drug, penicillin, from the International Red Cross, curing a festering leg wound that she had endured for over a year. Deli and her mother were reunited with her father and younger brother (Anton Brink) and the family returned to the war-ravaged Netherlands to restart their lives. Deli made up three years of a lost education at a special high school and went on to begin premedical studies at the University of Amsterdam.

Deli met her future husband, Nicolaas “Nico” Bloembergen on a student sailing vacation in Holland. She was attracted to Nico because he was highly intelligent, had a sense of humor, was an excellent sailor, and had already spent a year in America. The two were wed on June 26, 1950 in Amsterdam. They soon emigrated from Holland to America and proudly became U.S. citizens in 1958.

Deli and Nico forged a rich and fulfilling life, with a 67 year marriage that lasted until Nico’s death in 2017. The couple raised three children in the Five Fields neighborhood of Lexington, Massachusetts, where they lived for 45 years. The development, a novel concept in its day, was established in the 1950s by an architecture firm formed by Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius. Residents built modern homes that let nature in through large windows. It became a community, not just in its design around shared acreage used for recreation, but also in shared activities throughout the year. The strong bonds formed in this modern-day village lasted a lifetime.

In 2000, Nico fulfilled a longstanding promise to Deli to move to a warmer climate. The couple moved to Arizona where they became founding residents of another new community, Academy Village in Tucson. This retirement community, featuring a robust cultural and learning environment, enabled Deli to form new friendships and pursue her varied interests.

In her early years in America, as her husband pursued a prolific career as a physics professor at Harvard University, Deli devoted her energies to the arts, music, and further education, while fulfilling the roles of faculty wife and raising a family. When the children were young, Deli widened her horizons with courses at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. For many years she was inspired by classes as diverse as chamber music performance, drawing, hat making, enameling, short story writing and quilting.

Deli’s love of music was profound, both as a player and as a listener. When she was introduced to a compatible teacher, she started taking private piano lessons again as an adult. Diligently practicing challenging pieces and growing in confidence, she gave piano recitals, including one at the age of 80. She also regularly played chamber music with family and friends and

occasionally even played the accordion. For many decades, Deli and Nico were loyal subscribers to the Boston Symphony Orchestra enjoying their seats in the 1st balcony, center section.

In addition to music, Deli displayed her creativity as an original textile artist, contemporary quilter, skilled seamstress, writer, and adventurous cook. She took pride in preparing elaborate Indonesian Rijsttafel dinners that were enjoyed by many guests. She used beautiful fabrics collected on her world travels to sew one-of-a kind dresses and suits to wear to special events. Deli showed her quilts and unique wall hangings at numerous exhibitions while thriving on the camaraderie of various needle-working and quilting groups in both Lexington and Tucson. She vividly recounted her wartime experience in the short story entitled “What Day is This?” In 1979, Deli earned an Associate’s Degree in the Extension Program from Harvard University and was named Class Marshall.

Deli was appreciated as a sociable, enthusiastic, outspoken, resilient and fearless woman. A strong advocate for women’s reproductive rights, Deli volunteered as a counselor at Planned Parenthood in Massachusetts and served on its Board. Warmly welcoming newcomers wherever she lived, Deli maintained deep and lasting friendships throughout the globe. Her hospitality was reciprocated over the years during Deli and Nico’s frequent domestic and international travels, including a return visit to Deli’s beloved Indonesia.

Recognizing her diminishing capacity to care for herself, Deli bravely decided to enter an Assisted Living facility at the time of her 85th birthday, and Academy Villas in Tucson became her new home. While there, she enjoyed daily lunchtime visits from Nico, who made the short walk from their house on Langtry Lane, as well as frequent visits from her three children and dedicated friends. The Bloembergen family would like to thank the staff at Academy Villas for the tender care they provided to Deli in her final years as she suffered from dementia and declining health.

Deli is survived by her three children and their spouses and two grandchildren: Antonia Bloembergen and husband, Michael L. Lewis; Brink Auke Bloembergen and wife, Linda S. Johnsen; Juliana Bloembergen Dalton, husband, Robert E. Dalton, and their children, Deliana Howine Dalton and Nicolaas Duncan Dalton. In addition, she leaves numerous nieces and nephews in both the United States and Holland.

Deli will be remembered for her creative energy and warm outgoing personality. Her indomitable spirit will be missed.

Donations in Deli’s memory can be made to the International Red Cross or Planned Parenthood.

A Celebration of Deli’s life will take place in Tucson in the fall. Condolences for Antonia, Brink and Juliana can be sent to the following addresses:

Bloembergen Family
13835 East Langtry Lane
Tucson, AZ 85747

Tributes and memories can be posted on the following website:


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