2015 Persons and groups of the year

Battle of Waterloo

The oldest to remember for 2015 is the one with whom there could be a love hate relationship. Napoleon Bonaparte, who always saw things big, left behind a series of buildings in Belgium that still stand today, and also brought in some laws which we would like to treasure. It is a figure which got many minds being carried away and wondering why his brother is not recognised more for what he has done for the Netherlands which celebrated its 200 years existence.

The Frenchman Bonaparte, who had suffered serious blows in Russia and Leipzig, visited Flanders, at the time called the Southern Netherlands, several times, including various trips to Ostend and Antwerp, two cities that were of great importance in his strategy against England.
He enforced a continental blockade to bring his arch enemy England to its knees. No English products could reach the mainland, like, for example, sugar from the colonies. for this reason the cultivation of sugar beets was promoted in Flanders.

As Napoleon enforced conscription, many Flemings fought in the French army. After Napoleon was defeated and banished for the first time in 1814, all non-French soldiers were dismissed from the army.

Napoleon may have lost the battle of Waterloo two centuries ago, but his memory still lingers on in Flanders, and many tourists visit Waterloo were this year  archaeologists, led by Prof Tony Pollard of Glasgow University, did the most comprehensive excavation carried out so far of the farm at Hougoumont and the wider battlefield, in preparation for the celebration of the Battle of Waterloo, 200 years ago.

Hougoumont farm, scene of the 1815 Battle of Waterloo

Hougoumont farm, scene of the 1815 Battle of Waterloo Photo: Geoff Pugh/The Telegraph

English: The storming of La Haye Sainte, the c...

The storming of La Haye Sainte, the crucial position at the centre of Wellington’s position at the battle of Waterloo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two hundred years after British, Dutch and Prussian allies defeated Napoleon Bonaparte’s French army at the Battle of Waterloo, archaeologists from the UK and Belgium are using electromagnetic induction sensors, magnetometers, and GIS to analyze the battle’s very first killing grounds.

The research and archaeological project was also to help people like Mark Evans, a former Coldstream Guards officer, who narrowly escaped death while fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Mr Evans said the painstaking process of excavating a historic site can be cathartic because soldiers

“understand what it’s like to have been in these kinds of conflict situations”.

The Battle of Waterloo was one of the most significant battles in modern European history. It brought an end to two and a half decades of war between France and the rest of Europe, led to the restoration of the monarchy in France, and ushered in a long period of collaboration between the European powers. It would be half a century before a major conflict, the Crimean War, broke out in Europe again. {200 Years Later, Archaeologists Are Rewriting the Battle of Waterloo}

World War I

The other people we all had to remember, were those who lost their life in the muddy fields of Flanders 100 years ago.

Fire stations around the world held a minute’s silence on Thursday the 9th of July at 20.00 Belgian time, to mark the 30,000th Last Post ceremony taking place at that moment under the Menin Gate in Ypres. The worldwide commemoration of the fallen in the First World War was followed by a special edition of the ceremony in Ypres.

The special occasion, titled A Tribute to the Tribute, was organised by Flemish stage and screen actor Wim Opbrouck, who wanted to organise a moment of worldwide unity for the fallen soldiers.

Screens were set up in about 220 participating fire stations and other venues around the world – “in Belgium, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, the Philippines” and other locations, Opbrouck told the magazine Goesting.

“In Australia, even young people found it no problem to get up in the middle of the night to take part.”

The Last Post ceremony started in 1928 and has taken place every day since then, apart from a period between 1940 and 1944 when Belgium was under German occupation. The ceremony continued during that period, however, at Brookwood Cemetery in England. When Polish forces liberated Ypres in 1944, the ceremony resumed, even though fighting was still going on nearby.

the Volunteer

In the March “Week of the Volunteer in Flanders” four organisations that depend largely on volunteers for their work have been awarded a medal of honour by the Flemish parliament: Chiro Brussel, representing youth, the National Orchard Foundation, representing the environment, the Centre for Suicide Prevention, representing the care sector and the non-profit Meters en Peters representing integration.

The parliament’s medal of honour traditionally recognises a group that represents some aspect of the parliament’s work. In the past, the medal has gone to recipients in the visual arts, literature, science and social work, either in Flanders or elsewhere in the world.

This year’s choice was “the volunteer” in general.

“They are the living proof of solidarity and humanitarian work for the society,”

the parliament said in a statement.

It is good that volunteering groups are put in the flowers because volunteer work in the care sector is essential in closing the gap with a particular target group.

Immigration and integration

For ‘Meters en Peters’ (Godmothers and Godfathers) in Schilde, Antwerp province, which is made up of Dutch language tutors who help young newcomers with integration and to find their way in local schools, the help came in time to give support to about 100 volunteers who with the asylum crisis got much work to do in 2015.


Wouter Torfs (2014)

2015 was the sixth year that Torfs, named after CEO and founder Wouter Torfs, has won over the award’s 13-year history to be Best Employer in Belgium in the category of 500 or more employees. The annual award is organised by Vlerick Business School in conjunction with Jobat and the Great Place to Work Institute Belgium.

In the category of businesses with fewer than 500 employees, the award for best employer went to EASI, a developer of business software and apps, with offices in Nivelles and Leuven. EASI also made the top five last year.

Those who left the living

Günter Grass in 1986

The literary spokesman for the German generation that grew up in the Nazi era and survived the war shall not remembered for his period at the Waffen-SS (the elite military wing of the Nazi Party) nor as a dealer in the black market, a tombstone cutter, or a drummer in a jazz band. But the “Danzig trilogy” with  Die Blechtrommel (1959; The Tin Drum; film 1979), Katz und Maus (1961; Cat and Mouse) and Hundejahre (1963; Dog Years); will be in their (our) minds. On several occasions Günter Wilhelm Grass looked at “the forgotten face of history”, the struggle of the German people, the dangers of nuclear power and the political derailment of the European nations.

The English-born American Romance novelist Jackie Collins left this world for what it is. As younger sister of actress Joan Collins she could find eight of her novels been adapted for the screen, either as films or television miniseries.

King performing at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, Massachusetts, on March 31, 2012

Best known as the singer and co-composer of “Stand by Me“—a mega hit Ben E. King could leave all disputes behind him. He has been covered by acts from several genres. But he should also be remembered for his activity in his charitable foundation, the Stand By Me Foundation, which helps to provide education to deserving youths.

B.B. King in 2009.jpg

King at the 2009 North Sea Jazz Festival

The other King  leaving in 2015 was the American blues singer, electric guitarist, songwriter, and record producer Riley B. King, known professionally as B.B. King (1925 – 2015) and one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” along with Albert King and Freddie King. His guitar style was influenced by T-Bone Walker, by delta blues players (including his cousin Bukka White), and by such jazz guitarists as Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian. His hits were a.o. Three O’Clock Blues (1951), “When My Heart Beats like a Hammer”, “Woke Up This Morning” (1953), “Every Day I Have the Blues”, and “Sweet Sixteen”. In 2000, he and Clapton teamed up again to record Riding With the King, which won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. King is famously alleged to have fathered 15 children by 15 different women and after his death, three more have come forward, claiming King as their father as well.

The R&B, soul and gospel lost the international concert favourite Percy Sledge who is best known for the song “When a Man Loves a Woman“.

The post war generation got everywhere in contact with a grandmaster of arrangements and adaptations. James Last (born Hans Last; 17 April 1929 – 9 June 2015) sold an estimated 200 million albums worldwide in his lifetime, and won numerous awards including 200 gold and 14 platinum discs in Germany, the International MIDEM Prize at MIDEM in 1969 and West Germany‘s highest civilian award, the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany) in 1978.  Other songs composed by Last which achieved success include “Happy Heart” and “Music From Across The Way“, both recorded by Andy Williams, “Games That Lovers Play” recorded by Eddie Fisher (been covered over a hundred times), The Lonely Shepherd (Der einsame Hirte, thema uit De Verlaten Mijn), “Lingerin’ On”, “Happy Heart”, “When the Snow is on the Roses” and “Fool“, recorded by Elvis Presley. His last concert he gave on the 26th of April 2015 in Köln (Cologne) at the Lanxess Arena. Six of his records got in the Flemish 200 ultratop “Beachparty”, “Classic’s by moonlight vol.2″, “Best of 80 years”, “Back to back”, “80 greatest hits” and the re-edition of the 2009 lp “Top 100″. He had helped arrange hits for artists such as Helmut Zacharias, Freddy Quinn, Lolita, Alfred Hause and Caterina Valente. Bert Kaempfert (“Strangers in the Night” and “Moon Over Naples“) and Richard Clayderman their names also will always be connected with him.

He managed to stay for 48 weeks a UK best-seller and had is music been played in many youthclubs and  cellar bars in West Europe, where his Non-Stop Dancing records were hot. He can be called “most commercially successful bandleader” of the second half of the 20th century.

Demis Roussos in Baku 2-cropped.jpgThe soaring and heartfelt tenor voice that tickled our ears in the 1960s and ’70s and made a popular star throughout much of western Europe Demis Roussos (Artemios Ventouris Roussos) will not be there any more to be “Happy to Be on an Island in the Sun” (1975), and “When Forever Has Gone” (1976).

An other smokey voice was Herman George van Loenhout (10 April 1946 – 19 November 2015), better known as Armand, was a Dutch protest singer. His “Ben ik te min” (“Am I not good enough” of “Am I not worthy?“) sounded many times into the 21st century. An adaptation of “Ben ik te min” was released with rapper Nina having updated the lyrics: in this version (with Ali B and Brownie Dutch), the song talks of the disrespect for women Nina finds in hip hop culture. He mostly sang songs about legalizing marijuana in The Netherlands. At the age of 69 he died in Eindhoven on November 19, 2015 of pneumonia.

Thé Lau bij zijn afscheidsconcert in de Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam.Ex member of Neerlands Hoop Express in 1979 Matheus J. “Thé” Lau (17 July 1952 – 23 June 2015) founded the band The Scene and created the band’s most well-known songs are “Blauw” and “Iedereen is van de wereld”. he also found his way to rap and in 2010, Thé Lau topped the Dutch charts with a collaboration with Dutch rapper Lange Frans, “Zing voor me“. From 2013 he fought against cancer.

Anita Ekberg (1956)SwedishItalian actress, model, and sex symbol, best known for her role as Sylvia in the Federico Fellini film La Dolce Vita (1960) and outspokenness in interviews, Anita Ekberg at the age of 83, died on 11 January 2015 at the clinic San Raffaele in Rocca di Papa in Castelli Romani, Italy from complications of enduring illnesses. She was also frequently quoted as saying that it was Fellini who owed his success to her, rather than vice versa:

“They would like to keep up the story that Fellini made me famous, Fellini discovered me,”

she said in a 1999 interview with The New York Times.

Egyptian actor Omar Sharif, original name Michael Demitri Shalhoub, Michael also spelled Michel, Shalhoub also spelled Chalhoub (born April 10, 1932, Alexandria, Egypt—died July 10, 2015, Cairo). It took him more than 20 films before garnering international acclaim as Sherif Ali in David Lean’s epic Lawrence of Arabia. His portrayal of the loyal Arab chief earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture, as well as a shared Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor. Following this breakthrough role, Sharif was much in demand to play a variety of characters, including a Spanish priest in Behold a Pale Horse (1964) and the Mongolian conqueror in Genghis Khan (1965).

In the epic love story and adaptation of Boris Pasternak‘s 1957 novel, which was banned in the USSR for 30 years, David LeanMaurice JarreJulie Christie and Omar Sharif created from the moment it premiered the crowd-pleaser Doctor Zhivago (1965).
For his performance, he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama, while the film received ten Academy Award nominations, but Sharif was not nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
As the husband of Fanny Brice, played by Barbra Streisand in her first film role, Sharif was also acclaimed for his portrayal of Nicky Arnstein in Funny Girl (1968). Sharif received the César Award for Best Actor for his leading role in Monsieur Ibrahim, a French-language film adaptation of the novel Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran, as a Muslim Turkish merchant who becomes a father figure for a Jewish boy.
Sharif devoted much of his time to the card game bridge, releasing books, videos, and video games on the subject.
In May 2015, it was reported that Sharif had Alzheimer’s disease and two months later, at the age of 83, Sharif died after a heart attack at a hospital in Cairo, Egypt.

The fashion-world lost  Dutch fashion designer Frans Molenaar.

2008: Willem Aantjes is extensively photographed at his effigy

The Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) lost Willem “Wim” Aantjes, the man who kept quiet about his enlisting in the Germaanse-SS (Nederlandsche SS) or Dutch Schutzstaffel. Aantjes played an important part in the fusion of the Anti-Revolutionary Party (ARP), the Christian Historical Union (CHU) and the Catholic People’s Party (KVP) into the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA). In 1978, when Loe de Jong of the Dutch Institute for War Documentation created a lot of consternation, announcing in a press conference that Aantjes had signed up for the Waffen-SS in World War II, and that he had been a camp guard in Port Natal (Affaire-Aantjes), the leader of the CDA party in the House of Representatives, resigned his position as parliamentary party leader and member of the House of Representatives, though De Jong had confused the Waffen SS with the Germaansche SS. In 1988 he became member of the Raad voor de Volkshuisvesting, where he became vice president from april 1990 until 1993. He received the Ridder in de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw (29 april 1970).

The American Democratic party on May 30, 2015 was confronted with the news that the son of Joe and Neilia Biden, and stepson of Second Lady of the U.S. Jill Biden, Joseph Robinette “Beau” Biden III died from brain cancer. He had served as the 44th Attorney General of Delaware from January 2, 2007 until January 6, 2015. his intention was to run for Governor of Delaware in the 2016 election to succeed term-limited Democratic Governor Jack Markell, but his cancer beat him.
At his funeral, he was given the Legion of Merit Award by General Ordino, for his services in Iraq War.
On November 4, 2015, Biden was posthumously awarded the Albert Schweitzer Leadership Award, the highest honor given by the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY), for his service to mankind.

One of the greater politicians, Helmut Schmidt died November 10, 2015, Hamburg. Though the son of a half-Jewish teacher, was a group leader (Scharführer) in the Hitler Youth organization until 1936, when he was demoted and sent on leave because of his anti-Nazi views, but still came to serve in the Wehrmacht during World War II. He even earned an Iron Cross having taken part in the Ardennes offensive. Captured in April 1945 he was a prisoner of war until August of that year in Belgium.
The German statesman and member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), served as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1974 to 1982.
As minister of finances facing the prospect of rising inflation , shortly before the Oil Shock of 1973, which rattled Britain and United States, Schmidt agreed that European currencies should be floated against the US Dollar. Schmidt was a proponent of Keynesian economics, and pursued expansionary monetary and fiscal policies during his time as chancellor. In December 1986, he was one of the founders of the committee supporting the EMU and the creation of the European Central Bank.
Schmidt was the author of numerous books on his political life, on foreign policy, and political ethics. He made appearances in numerous television talk shows, and remained one of the most renowned political publicists in Germany until his death.

Further on the list of people who died in 2015:

Leonard Nimoy; Swiss singer-songwriter, poet, language acrobat, and prose writer in the Dutch language, Drs P (Heinz Hermann Polzer); mime player Rob van Rejn; EllenVogel Dutch televisionfilm and stage actress died on 5 August 2015 in Amsterdam at the age of 93.



2015 Economy

2015 Technology and development

2015 Film

For persons in the performing arts: 2015 Performance arts


Additional reading:

  1. Archaeologists to excavate Napoleonic farmhouse defended by Coldstream Guards in Battle of Waterloo
  2. Archaeologists to Excavate Farmhouse From Waterloo
  3. Waterloo archaeologists search ‘killing zone’
  4. Pontypool Museum to mark Waterloo’s 200th anniversary
  5. 30,000th Last Post resounds across the world


About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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