Henk Rijpstra started collecting pins in the early ’90s as a shared hobby with his son Marco. When they could they would travel and somehow there was always a Hard Rock Cafe for lunch and for dinner… So Henk was ready when in 1999 the Amsterdam Hard Rock Cafe opened, he came to the first Pin Meeting and bought some traders (I believe 6 and they in a tiny tin box!).
Back then the Germans run PIN (the Pin International Network) and PIN organized the PinMarch every year in …. yes, in March. PinMarches were held in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Copenhagen, Malta, Reykjavik, Stockholm and even in Cairo. And Henk went to them all. And these events raised money for charity, generally easily around $20.000! Henk loved buying at those auctions as the money went to charity and the pins came home with him.
But PinMarch also did something else. There would also be an exclusive pin for the event and at the auction, somebody could buy the naming rights to that pin. In Reykjavik Henk wanted to be that person, so plans to save a war chest were enacted and when it came to the auction folks did want him to win it! As he felt strongly that this was a big money maker for the charity he started to bidding against his son! Henk felt compelled to name the pin Circle of Friends.
Hard Rock Cafe became more and more internationally! Believe it or not, Henk did not speak more than 6 words of English! And no German, French, Spanish or even Finnish. But yet he traveled all over the world and traded pins with folks from all Nationalities. In no time he became a member of the 100 Club and shortly afterward the 200 Club. While he often needed help with translations he got around. He loved going to the Hard Rock and often he would say to just anybody, even somebody he just met “Hey, are you coming with me to the Hard Rock?” His last trip was with a pinfriend to the Hard Rock Cafe Baku and as always he had a great weekend. When he got home he was tired and wanted to rest a bit, falling asleep he never got up again.
For me, I lost a very good and dear friend. I met Henk in 2001 at the PinMarch and it turned out we only lived 5 miles apart from each other. So we would always go to the monthly meeting in Amsterdam. Henk persuaded me to go the PinMarch in Iceland and many more places after that (he just had this way of asking). When I got sick and survived breast cancer he would care for me. He always came by and cheered me up, he made sure I had a ride to the hospital and when I had to cancel the Barcelona pinmeeting because of my illness he returned with a present from the auction, signed by all the attendees wishing me well! And that was just him. As soon as he heard about somebody being ill or otherwise in trouble, he was there for those folks. He was the kind of person you could call in the middle of the night and no questions asked, he would do whatever was needed. In short, the best friend you can imagine. Henk, I will always miss you.