UPDATE: Since this post was written in 2013, Gys van Beek sadly passed away on November 20, 2015.
Inventor of Trucker's Friend™ honored as War Hero and recognized by the Shoah Foundation
94-year-old Gys van Beek lives quietly in Caldwell, Idaho with his wife of 65 years, Zwaantje, but there's nothing unassuming about his accomplishments.
Gys van Beek in the Resistance
His numerous inventions include Innovation Factory's best-selling Trucker's Friend™, for which he receives a royalty on every purchase. Gys, who claims he hasn't yet retired, continues to prepare new patent filings, making him one of the oldest living inventors in America.
But there's much more to know and honor about Gys van Beek.
Born March 31, 1919 in Angeren, Netherlands, Gys grew up on a farm, nurtured by parents who encouraged him to "be a true example." His family regularly attended services at the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands. Even as a young man, he was recognized for his strength and leadership, which was why the Nazis tried to recruit him soon after invading Holland. Instead, Gys joined the Dutch Resistance.
Using forged identity papers, Gys was instrumental in aiding refugees and enemies of the Nazi regime. He also helped numerous British, Canadian and American downed fighter pilots. One of these, a P-51 pilot from Wisconsin, Lieutenant Howard Moebius, went on to maintain a lifelong friendship with his rescuer. Gys continuously placed himself and his family in danger with his resistance efforts, even though being caught meant certain torture and death.
Van Beek's courage earned him decorations from the governments of Canada, Great Britain and the Netherlands. He is particularly proud of the presidential certificate awarded to him by Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight Eisenhower, shortly after the war.
During the Holocaust, van Beek was instrumental in helping others. In 1999, he was also recognized as an Aid Giver for helping to save Jewish lives by the Shoah Foundation (founded by Steven Spielberg). The more than two hour interview with Gys by the Shoah Foundation is now available on YouTube.
Van Beek's selfless acts of service to America have been further honored, as entered into the Congressional Record of July 24, 2012 by Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador.
Gys emigrated to the United States in 1948, aboard the ship, the Ernie Pyle. In 1954 he moved to Idaho, where he started a dairy farm. He and his wife Zwaantje soon became citizens. Unfortunately, he ultimately lost the farm that had been his family home for 40 years as a result of legal difficulties, which he continues to contest.
But Gys van Beek is resilient. In 1995 he decided that he'd (literally) invent his way out of these challenges (which, after all, paled in comparison with fighting the Nazis). And so began a successful career as the inventor of hand tools (and more).
Innovation Factory is very proud to be the exclusive licensee of the Trucker's Friend™. As the name implies, Gys invented this multi-purpose tool to meet the needs of professional long-haul truckers. But the Trucker's Friend has now attracted a broad (and vocal) following among fire and rescue workers, outdoor enthusiasts, survivalists and preppers, as well as truck drivers and other motorists. Our serious tool has even been adopted by the community of zombie hunters!