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‘I still feel like kicking up my heels!’: Redmond senior shares her story of perseverance for Women’s History Month

(Update: adding video, comments from Maria and her son)

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Brookdale Redmond, a senior living community, is highlighting an exceptional resident who helped blaze a trail for women in the workforce, Maria Beernink.

"We had to hide from the Russians," she told us. "Well, before fleeing, I guess I've been to Czechoslovakia and Czernowitz and the Germans were bombing and — I’ve seen a lot. I see the bombs come falling down.”

Beernink still remembers her life during World War II in The Netherlands before she came to America.

"There were a lot of bombardments," she recalled. "I had to walk by the rivers and hid by the rivers under trees 'til I met the border, and they picked me up and they brought me back to Holland."

After the war, Beernink immigrated to the US from Holland at 26 years old. She came with her husband and 2-year-old son.

"We came in 1961. Times were different. I think the country was a little bit more gentler," she said.

After settling in California, Beernink worked as a nurse at a hospital. Eventually, she moved on, to the restaurant industry.

"My husband was an executive chef. He was trained in Europe, so we decided to buy a restaurant in Burney, California." Beernink said.

She helped run four restaurants, which all served European-style food.

"I learned a whole new trade, and then became very good at it," she said with a laugh laughed.

Beerning was able to do all of this while overcoming a language barrier.

"I could speak German. I could speak Dutch. I could listen to English but I couldn't speak it. I had to learn a lot of stuff. " she explained.

Maria's son, Hans Beernink Jr., mentioned that his mom is also a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed four years ago.

"She had aggressive lymphoma, and the doctors didn't give her a whole lot of time. I thought we were going to lose her."

Four years later, Beernink says she's feeling healthy as ever, at 92 years old.

"I still feel like kicking of my heels, and I still feel very healthy -- extremely healthy!" she said.
"That's better than I've been in a long time."

Beernink says she wants to remind women that they are stronger than they think. She says having a positive outlook is the most important thing for navigating life's challenges.

Article Topic Follows: Redmond

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Jillian Fortner

Jillian Fortner is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jillian here.


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