posted February 1, 2008

Longtime Staff Member Vern Schipper Dies

Vern Schipper, who retired from the Hope College staff in 1989 after 16 years with college advancement, died on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008 in Holland, Mich., following a lingering illness. He was 80.

A 1951 Hope graduate, he joined the college's staff as director of the "Build Hope" Fund in August 1973. He was subsequently appointed associate director of college relations for alumni affairs and served as alumni director until 1986, when he became a regional advancement officer. He was active as a volunteer on the college's behalf both before joining the Hope staff and after retiring.

The college's Alumni Association presented him with a "Resolution of Recognition and Appreciation" in May 1986, and a Meritorious Service Award in May 1997. During Homecoming in October 2004, he and his wife Isla, along with two other couples - Lamont and Ruth Dirkse, and Philip and Ann Fredrickson - received special recognition for their decades of service to the college, honored during the dedication ceremony for the sculpture "Wall Relief: Opus A" installed at Nykerk Hall of Music.

He was born in Zeeland, Mich., on Aug. 10, 1927, the son of William and Marian Schipper, and graduated from Zeeland High School. In addition to his undergraduate degree from Hope, he held a master's degree from Michigan State University.

Prior to joining the Hope staff, he had been vice president and general manager with Guide Inc., a Holland-based publisher of church school material, and had been a representative for Harper and Row Publishing Co. He had also been a teacher in the Holland Public Schools, and had served as director of adult education and community service in Holland.

His community involvement through the years included serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the Holland Area Chamber of Commerce and Resthaven, and as a member and officer of the Exchange Club. An avid skier, he had served as director of the National Ski Patrol at Carouse lMountain, the former ski resort located near what is now Scenic Shores near Lake Michigan on Holland's south side.

He was a lifelong member of the Reformed Church in America (RCA), which he had served as a member of the Board of Theological Education and as vice president and president of the Holland Classis. He was a member of Christ Memorial Church.

He served with the U.S. Navy during World War II and the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict. He earned two Bronze Stars with Oak Leaf Clusters for his service in Korea, the Republic of Korea Medal, the United Nations Medal, the Combat Infantryman's Badge and theatre ribbons.

Survivors include Isla (Streur '50), to whom he was married for 56 years; and their three sons, Jim ('81) and his wife, Jane Frey, of Grand Rapids, Mich., Brian ('83) and his partner, Rick Lord, of Mountain View, Calif., and Steve ('87) of Key West, Fla.

Visitation will be on Sunday, Feb. 3, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mulder Funeral Chapel, 188 W. 32nd St. in Holland. The funeral will be on Monday, Feb. 4, at 11 a.m. at Christ Memorial Church. Memorial gifts are suggested to the Vern and Isla Schipper Scholarship Fund at Hope College.