Hope College will recognize two alumni for service with honorary degrees during the college's Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 4.
Hope will award honorary degrees to Connie Boersma of Holland and her husband, the late Max Boersma, who died on Friday, Jan. 17, at age 78. The recognition celebrates the many ways through the years that they together served others, including their alma mater, according to Dr. James E. Bultman, president of Hope College.
"Max and Connie Boersma influenced so many in profoundly positive ways," he said. "That influence transcended social and racial boundaries, interest areas, gender and age, and denominational preferences. They were friends to all. Individually and as a couple, they demonstrated Christ's love and concern at every turn. They showed us how to live life to its fullest."
"Max and Connie were unsurpassed in their affection for Hope," he said. "Both of them were--and Connie still is--very involved in the life of the college." Max Boersma, a member of the college's Class of 1946, was a longtime member of the college's Board of Trustees. He joined the board in 1981 and had recently been appointed to a seventh term; he was secretary of the board from 1982 to 2000.
He co-chaired two of the college's capital campaigns, both of which exceeded their fund-raising goals: the "Campaign for Hope," which concluded in 1987, and "Hope in the Future," which concluded in 1994. He was also active in the college's current capital campaign, "Legacies: A Vision of Hope."
He was a president of the college's Alumni Association from 1957 to 1959.
Connie Boersma is a member of the college's Class of 1949. She is a past president of the Women's League for Hope College. Her father, the late Milton L. "Bud" Hinga, was a member of the college's teaching, coaching and administrative staff for 29 years.
In conjunction with the "Hope in the Future" campaign, they created the endowment for the "Hinga-Boersma Dean of the Chapel" in support of the campus ministries program.
They both received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Hope in 1978. Friends and colleagues also established the "Max and Connie Boersma Scholarship Fund" at Hope in their honor.
The Boersmas were longtime residents of Grand Rapids, where they were active members of Central Reformed Church. They served as foster parents through the juvenile court system and helped initiate a Big Brother program in Grand Rapids. Max was also a past member and president of the Grand Rapids board of education.
Max retired in 1992 as executive vice president with Mazda Great Lakes of Grand Rapids, and in retirement the couple moved to Holland and near the Hope campus. They would frequently be seen taking their morning walk through campus. They rarely missed a campus activity and were regular attendees at many college functions, including the chapel services. Since Max's death, Connie has continued to be an active participant in Hope events.
All three of their children are Hope alumni: the Rev. Dr. William R. Boersma of Holland, a member of the Class of 1975; Elizabeth Jasperse of Traverse City, a member of the Class of '77; and the Rev. Paul Boersma of Zeeland, a member of the Class of 1982 who is the Leonard and Marjorie Maas Endowed Senior Chaplain at Hope. Three of their nine grandchildren are also alumni or current students.