A local memorial service for Rachel VanderWerf, widow of former Hope College President Calvin VanderWerf, will be held on Sunday, April 30, at 2 p.m. in Mulder Chapel at Western Theological Seminary.
The Rev. William C. Hillegonds of Brighton, who
was chaplain at Hope College from 1965 to 1978, will be
officiating. The public is invited.
VanderWerf died at age 81 on Sunday, March 5, at
her home in Gainesville, Fla. Her husband, who died on July
18, 1988, was president of Hope from 1963 to 1970.
While at the college, she had helped organize
Hope's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Among the many projects
she spearheaded at Hope was the college's effort to restore
historic Marigold Lodge when the college acquired the Lake
Macatawa property in 1969.
She had remained active in the life of the college
in the years since her husband had been president.
Calvin and Rachel VanderWerf were both recognized
when the "Physics/Math" building was named for him during
Homecoming Weekend on Oct. 9, 1981.
Among other activities, she had been on the
Steering Committee for the college's "Hope in the Future"
fundraising campaign in the early 1990s, and regularly
returned to campus to meet the students supported through
the Calvin A. VanderWerf '37 Scholarship Fund established at
Hope in her husband's honor. The college honored her with
an appreciation dinner on Sept. 25, 1998.
She was born in Bluffton, Ohio, in 1919. She was
the youngest of three girls born to Ohio State University
professor Harry Gehman Good and his wife Maude Warye Good.
She graduated summa cum laude from Ohio State
University in 1940, and married Calvin VanderWerf in
Columbus, Ohio, in 1942.
The couple settled in Lawrence, Kan., where Calvin
was a chemistry professor at the University of Kansas and
Rachel worked for the YWCA. She often said that the
achievement of which she was most proud was the couple's
civil rights work in Lawrence. They were founding members
of the Lawrence League for the Practice of Democracy, a
group of community leaders who worked to end segregation
practices in Lawrence during the 1950s.
In Holland, in addition to her activities on
behalf of Hope, she was instrumental in organizing a voting
campaign to pass a mill increase to fund the city's public
In 1972, the couple moved to Gainesville, when
Calvin was named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at
the University of Florida. Rachel started a women's
clothing retail business with her daughter Julie in
Gainesville; the concern later expanded to Ocala, Fla.
Rachel was active in the local chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma,
a friend of the Harn Museum and an elder of the First
Presbyterian Church in Gainesville.
Survivors include her children, Gretchen
VanderWerf of Boulder, Colo., Klasina VanderWerf of Denver,
Colo., Julie Hill of Gainesville, Lisa Hawkins of Palm Beach
Gardens, Fla., Pieter VanderWerf of Boston, Mass., and Marte
Singerman of Miami Beach, Fla.; seven grandchildren; and two
sisters-in-law, Anne Wabeke and Joan Brieve of Holland.
Mulder Chapel faces the former 12th Street near