Anna-Brita Stevens was the grand marshal for the City of Lakeway’s Independence Day celebration on July 4th.
Stevens was born in Stockholm, Sweden on November 18, 1927, as Anna-Brita Tussenbriek, to Gysbert Van Tussenbroek and Johanna DeGraff. When she was a year old, the family moved to the Netherlands. She grew up in Rotterdam.
The Netherlands was invaded by Hitler’s German army on May 10, 1940. They expected to conquer them in a day, but the Dutch army was able to hold them off for several days. Eventually, the superior firepower of the Germans nearly destroyed Rotterdam and threatened the same to several other cities. Before the Dutch surrendered, more than 800 people had died and another 85,000 had been made homeless.
Stevens did not just stand around and watch these events from the sidelines. She was actively involved with the Dutch Underground – relaying messages, gathering intelligence and performing other support ing roles.
“The Royal Dutch government decided to honor the brave citizens who had served covertly in the Dutch Underground during the Nazi occupation by retroactively recognizing them as full members of the Dutch military and giving them the same veterans’ benefits as uniformed members,” Lakeway archivist Mike Boston said.
After hearing about the contributions Stevens made in the war, the City of Lakeway, the Standing Military Committee and the Lakeway Heritage Center all decided to honor her by placing her name on the Spirit of Freedom Monument in the city’s Spirit of ’45 Commemoration last year. Also, she was recognized at the city’s Veterans Day commemoration in November of 2015.
When the war was over, Stevens moved first to Switzerland and then to Amsterdam. There she attended the prestigious Gerrit Rietveld Academie of Applied Sciences for fine arts and design. She went to secretarial school as well, and while there she learned foreign languages. Today, she is fluent in English, Dutch, German, and French.
She worked as a secretary in Indonesia where she met a Texan named Carroll Stevens. They eventually married. Mr. Stevens traveled all over the world for his job. The two of them lived in Nigeria, Canada, the Caribbean, Indonesia, and Spain. In the midst of all of that, they managed to raise two sons.
In 1961, they moved to Houston, Texas for a few years before moving to Nigeria. Mr. Stevens heard how beautiful Lakeway, Texas was so he flew over and checked it out. The city made a powerful impression on him, so he bought a house there.
They moved to Holland for less than a year in 1967 then lived in Trinidad briefly. After that, they moved to San Antonio. In 1971, they moved to Dallas.
In Dallas, Mrs. Stevens volunteered with the city. She was on the International Multicultural Committee – Rotterdam is a sister city of Dallas. She was on the Dallas Chamber of Commerce and served on their international committee. She was personally invited by the mayor of Rotterdam to come to the Holland Trade Dinner to thank her for her help with economic relations between Rotterdam and the U.S.
Mr. Stevens died in 1982. Mrs. Stevens built a house in Lakeway in 1986 and has lived there since.