On Monday, June 28, 2021, Henri G. Arts passed away at age 92 surrounded by his loving family. He was the beloved husband of the late Mary P. Arts for 61 years. Henri leaves behind son Franklin R. Arts and his wife Karen; daughter Elaine Arts-Houghtaling and her husband Bob; son Luke J. Arts and his wife Maggie. Born in Amsterdam on May 8, 1929, he was the son of the late Franciscus J. and Jacoba W. J. (Segaar) Arts. He (Opa) also leaves behind seven grandchildren that he cherished - Jennifer, Sarah, Emily, Zach, the late Dwight Arts-Furey, Nicole, Alex and five great-great grandchildren that Opa adored - Riley, Henri, Brooke, Luca and Xavier.
He served in the Royal Dutch Army as Sargent - Mechanical Engineering. Henri came to the United States in 1956 under the Eisenhower Refugee Act. In 1969 he joined the Aetna Casualty & Surety as a Senior Safety Consultant. He was a longtime volunteer for the American Red Cross, serving as Safety Department Chairman and 1st. VP in the Providence Chapter. As an Instructor Trainer, he was involved in First Aid and Water Safety Training for over 25 years. In 1971, he became a member of the Rhode Island Interscholastic Swim Officials Association and has been working as a high school official for over twenty-five years. In 1988 Henri received the Joseph L. Tracey Award for his contribution to aquatics, and in 1991 he was presented with the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association Award for his outstanding contribution to high school swimming. From 1975 to 1995, he officiated the college meets at the University of Rhode Island. He worked many championships, including the 1978 Women’s World Championships at Brown University. In 1997, Henri became one of four Rhode Island officials to be certified by the Collegiate Swimming Officials Association. In 1998 Henri was Inducted into the RI Aquatic Hall of Fame.
Henri was a loving husband, devoted father and doting Opa. He was larger than life. Funny, strong, and giving, these were but a few characteristics that helped make him the ‘Opa’ that we loved.
Maggie: I had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with Opa traveling all over the state going to various YMCA’s to watch Emily and Zach at their swim meets. Opa never missed a swim meet or practice. One morning we decided to stop at Dunkin Donuts drive-through for some coffee, Opa proceeded to roll down his window and place his order with the garbage can! I think of him every single time I go through a drive-through (and now, hopefully, you will too!)
Elaine: One summer Dad, Luke, and I tore down the inside of my house – right down to the 2x4s. Dad and I spent the entire summer, every day, working side-by-side. We worked hard. We laughed hard. Thanks for being such a strong influence in my life. I love you.
Bob: I will always remember Henri and my dad, both deep into their 70’s, climbing ladders and walking on the roof, of our old garage, as we were taking it down. It was hard work, but they made it fun. I will also recall the many dinners Elaine and I had when he and Mary spoke of Holland and the olden days. Kind, funny and always helpful, I am so lucky to have had him in my life. I miss you, Henri.
Funeral and visitation information is listed below. In lieu of flowers please make a gift, in memory of Henri Arts, to Almost Home Animal Rescue & Adoption, P.O. Box 6111, Providence, RI 02940
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