VALE: Hans Zwynenberg, founder of Hans Welding Works, passed away on August 3 aged 87.
VALE: Hans Zwynenberg, founder of Hans Welding Works, passed away on August 3 aged 87.

Community mourns loss of man who 'typified' Ipswich

AN IMMIGRANT with a passion for steel forged in Holland became a well known and much-loved champion for medical causes in his adopted home of Ipswich.

The family and friends of Hans Zwynenberg are mourning his loss after he died peacefully on August 3 aged 87.

Born Johannes Hermannus Maria Zwynenberg in Losser, Overijssel in the Netherlands on October 31, 1931, he was the third of eight children born to Gerhardus and Aleida.

Hans's first job as a teenager was in a blacksmith's workshop, which is where his passion and life's work was first discovered.

He married first wife Annie in February 1957 and together they decided to settle in Australia with life in Holland proving difficult following World War II.

The couple came to the country on a six-week journey on the Johan Van Oldenbarnevelt, landing in Sydney before moving to stay with family in North Ipswich.

Hans's first job in Australia was at the railway workshops but after a short time working there, his boss suggested he go out and start a business of his own.

After a few months living in Ipswich, Hans and Annie built a home in Brassall and from there Hans began building things from steel for people, from kids' swing sets to fencing and railings.

He recalled playing Santa Claus one Christmas, delivering swing sets for children on Christmas Eve into the late hours of the night.

In 1958, his first son Gary was born and Ronnie followed three years later.

In the early 1960s, the workshop had outgrown its Brassall home and a property was purchased on Warwick Rd, Yamanto and the Zwynenbergs built a house there.

The business, Hans Welding Works at Yamanto, continued to grow and Hans started engineering cattle handling equipment.

In 1964, third son Leo was born, followed by Barry in 1966 and Andrew in 1969.


Hans and Ida Zwynenberg.
Hans and Ida Zwynenberg.

From their arrival in Ipswich, Hans and Annie were strong figures in the Dutch community and many nights were spent at the Dutch Club in Richlands and they were members of the Stirrers Carnival Club.

As their sons grew up, they all started in the workshop and earned their trades as boilermakers.

Sadly in 1994, Hans and the boys lost Annie to bone cancer at the age of 62.

In the wake of her loss, Hans wanted to do his part and began fundraising efforts for cancer research alongside a family friend, Ida.

In their first fundraising barbecue, they raised $25,000 for a fridge to store medical samples and never stopped; working to raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation and the Ipswich Hospice.

Over the years, Hans and Ida proudly raised hundreds of dollars for charity and their friendship grew into something more special as they were married in February 2005.

They moved into their own home and Hans was forever extending and improving the house, with a plan always in his head and a project always on the way.

Four of his sons still work at the workshop.

Hans continued to work at the welding works every day and adamantly played his part into his later years, with many happy days spent at the Dutch Club and Brothers Leagues Club.

He was an adored Opa to 12 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

Hans's funeral will be at 10am on Tuesday at Immaculate Heart Catholic Church, Leichhardt followed by burial at Warrill Park Lawn Cemetery.

Hans Zwynenberg typified Ipswich

Peter McMahon, chairman of close to 10 years of the Ipswich Hospice, said Hans raised more than $100,000 for the organisation.

"He had a very powerful connection with the Dutch community," Mr McMahon said.

"To me, he was Ipswich typified. Our culture is a mixture of all migrant people and he just loved this country. Ipswich was very much his home."

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