HOLLAND - Retired Hope College coaching and teaching legend Alvin Vanderbush of Bloomington, Minn., has died at age 97.
Vanderbush, who died on Sunday, Feb. 20, at Friendship Village in Bloomington, was a 1929 Hope graduate who taught history and political science while coaching the football team from 1946 to 1954. He also served as director of athletics from 1954 to 1960, and retired from the faculty in 1972.
In nine seasons, Vanderbush guided the Flying Dutchmen to two Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) championships, in 1951 and 1953. The 1953 title was Hope's first outright championship. His teams posted an overall 46-28-2 record and were 30-15-2 against MIAA opponents. He also coached track and field at Hope.
Recognized for his excellence as a professor, he received the college's first "Hope Outstanding Professor Educator (H.O.P.E.) Award," elected by the graduating senior class, in 1965. Hope presented him with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1974.
In 1977, his 1951 football team established the Alvin W. Vanderbush Student Athlete Award in his honor. The award is presented annually during the college's spring Honors Convocation.
Since the 1997-98 school year, Hope has presented the "Vanderbush-Weller Development Fund" award each spring to honor faculty and staff who make extraordinary contributions to the lives of the college's students. The award was created in his honor by Dr. Ken and Shirely Weller. Ken Weller is one of Vanderbush's former players and also a former Hope faculty colleague.
In 2004, Hope football alumni honored Vanderbush with a plaque at the American Football Coaches Hall of Fame in Waco, Texas. The plaque reads: "Coach Al Vanderbush refused to let us settle for less than our best. He taught us to play with intensity but never without respect for the rules, for our opponents and for ourselves. In his daily life, he modeled the man of Christian character, discipline, intellect and integrity. As effectively then as it continues in our hearts to this day. We honor him for what he did for us. Football players of Hope College, 1946-54."
Vanderbush joined the Hope faculty as an instructor in history and coach in 1945, following the end of World War II, and took over a Hope football program that had been suspended for three seasons because of the war. In addition to his other responsibilities at the college, he also chaired the department of political science.
He was a Hope football lineman as an undergraduate during the late 1920s, achieving all-MIAA honors and serving as captain during his senior season.
He earned an M.A. from the University of Michigan in 1938. Prior to World War II, he taught at Bessemer High School and Grandville High School, and with the Grand Rapids public schools. During World War II, he served with the U.S. Navy.
Vanderbush was preceded in death by his first wife, Elizabeth, in 1978, and by his second wife, Irene, in 2002. Survivors include a stepdaughter, Judy Kreyer, of Ramsey, Minn.
Funeral arrangements are to be announced.