In memoriam: Heleen van Meurs

“Why?” was usually the first reaction of Heleen van Meurs when she heard something of which she wanted to know more or which she did not trust.
Always curious she took nothing for granted. That is how she became a lawyer, feminist, actress, director, car mechanic and MD. She was an inspiration for many and played her role in the women’s/lesbian movement. Heleen was full of wisdom and humor: a unique person.

Born in 1930 she became one of the first television announcers in the early 50’s while still studying Law. After finishing her studies she went to London to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Then follows a successful career as actress, both at the stage and on television and in movies.
Having accomplished this, she becomes a director of plays and program maker for radio and television. As a director and program maker she has more freedom to act on what she thinks is important, like, more and more, (lesbian) women’s issues.

Interviewing people she always wants to know how people know what they think they know, or how they come to a certain statement: hence the ‘why?’. She is critical, analytical and respected.
She falls in with the women’s movement and starts directing shows of the Women’s Cabaret of Natascha Emanuels. Her girlfriend artist Els Korver designs the posters & scenery.
When in the 80’s she and female friends get the idea to go to South America to make a photo book of the journey, Heleen, always practical, realizes that there is no repair shop every 5 kilometers in the jungle: someone has to learn how to fix a car. The trip is never made but Heleen becomes an accomplished car mechanic after she joins a school for last chance drop-outs.

When she turns 60 she decides to follow an old wish: to study medicine. She does so and becomes a general practitioner. Not in the Netherlands, but in remote parts of Asia where her mechanical knowledge of cars is not wasted.

She moves out of Amsterdam to the country. She stops working in Asia, but keeps on working as a physiatrist and stops only when the bureaucracy becomes too consuming. Heleen travels, directs the local village’s theatrical group, becomes a bird watcher and does not lose her sense of humor.

When she feels that she had a stroke she drives her car to the local  doctor, even though one leg does not work. “But I could move the leg with my hand so what’s the fuss” she asks her astonished doctor.
Just before Christmas she died, 87 years old.

She has been an eloquent spokes person for and force behind the scene of the lesbian/women’s movement.


Heleen van Meurs
Heleen van Meurs, 1930 – 2017