The alumni H-Club at Hope College will present its "Hope for Humanity Award" to Robert Van Dis of Kalamazoo on Saturday, Oct. 12.
The award, first presented in 1990, recognizes Hope athletic alumni for service to others, transformation of Christian values and consistency of commitment. The H- Club consists of Hope alumni who were athletic letter winners and other honorary letter winners as approved by the H-Club's Board of Directors. The group will recognize Van Dis during its annual Homecoming luncheon, which will be held in the Haworth Inn and Conference Center.
Van Dis is a 1947 Hope graduate. Now retired, he was owner of "V & A Bootery" in Kalamazoo for more than 40 years.
He majored in business administration at Hope, and lettered in basketball, football and tennis. He was a member of the 1942-43 "Blitz Kids" basketball team, which made Hope sports history by becoming the first Hope basketball team to be undefeated in league play.
His time as a student was interrupted by service with the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war, as a senior, he was president of the Student Council and co- captain of the basketball team. He received the college's Otto van der Velde All-Campus Award, presented to one graduating senior on the basis of outstanding contributions to the college in athletics, scholarship and participation in student activities.
Van Dis has served Hope in a variety of ways. He is a past "Class Representative" for the Class of '47, has helped to organize class reunions, and is a past member of the H-Club Board of Directors. For several years, he helped acquaint high school athletes with the college by bringing them to Hope football and basketball banquets. He spoke at the dedication for the college's Milton L. Hinga Student Services Center. His faithful financial support has included establishing, in 1992, the Van Dis Scholarship Fund.
His church and denominational involvement includes having served on the consistory of First Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, having been president of the Southwest Michigan Classis of the Reformed Church in America, and having served on the board of Western Theological Seminary. He has been an energetic supporter of Camp Geneva, a Reformed Church camp located on Lake Michigan north of Holland, and is a member of the camp's Board.
Van Dis's community involvement has also included serving on the boards for United Way, the Chamber of Commerce, Voluntary Action Center (including as president), Big Brothers, Vineyard Outreach Ministry (including as president), Ministry with Community, Downtown Kalamazoo Association (including as president), the Kalamazoo Country Club Board and the Central Park Chapel Board in Holland.
Hope presented him with a Meritorious Service Award in February of 1995. Also in 1995, he received the Kalamazoo community leadership "STAR (Sharing Time and Resources) Award."
Van Dis and his first wife, Mary, a member of the college's Class of '45 who is now deceased, had two children, Mary Beth, a member of the Class of 1980, and William. He and his second wife, Kay, have been married since 1999.