Son of Bertha Colenbrander (1890-1937) and Gerrit Jan te Rietstap (1882-1955).
During World War II he was a member of the ‘Trouw” resistance group in Bergentheim (Ov). He was arrested on 12.01.1945 together with 9 other resistance members, among them his cousin Gerrit Jan Ormel. On 20.02.1945 they were transferred to the prison in Doetinchem.
On 27.02.1945 three German soldiers were killed between Dinxperlo and Aalten by the resistance. As retaliation the Germans took 46 prisoners from Doetinchem, among them Derk Jan and Gerrit Jan, and brought them to Rademakersbroek near Varsseveld, where they were executed by a firing squad on 02.03.1945.