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Alida Bosshardt, 94; cared for prostitutes, drug addicts

AMSTERDAM -- Alida Bosshardt, who spent more than 50 years working for the Salvation Army and established a center in Amsterdam's Red Light District for prostitutes and drug addicts, died Monday, the Christian organization said. She was 94.

Salvation Army spokeswoman Hella van der Schoot said Ms. Bosshardt died of old age. "She had heart troubles and kidney problems," she said.

Ms. Bosshardt joined the Salvation Army in 1934 and was instructed to work with women in the city's Red Light District shortly after the end of World War II.

She established a Goodwill center in the district that eventually became a place where a wide range of troubled people came for shelter and social services: prostitutes and their children, the homeless and drug addicts.

She retired in 1978 at age 65, but continued volunteering and attending public gatherings until shortly before her death.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende praised Ms. Bosshardt's "wisdom, love, and compassion" on national television Monday, and the Royal House said Queen Beatrix was moved by her death.

Among Ms. Bosshardt's many awards were a knighthood in the Netherlands' Order of Oranje Naussau in 2004. The Israeli Holocaust museum gave her a "Righteous Among the Nations" award for helping Jewish children during the war, often taking them on her bicycle to homes where they would go into hiding.

"I'm in God's service to serve people," Ms. Bosshardt said once when receiving an award. "All honor goes to him, not me."

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