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Rachel Vanderwerf, Widow of Hope President
Calvin A. VanderWerf Dies in Florida

Posted March 7, 2000

Rachel Good VanderWerf of Gainesville, Fla., widow of former Hope President Dr. Calvin VanderWerf '37, died on Sunday, March 5, 2000. She was 81.

Her husband, who died on July 18, 1988, was president of Hope from 1963 to 1970.

"Rachel will be remembered first and foremost as a gracious lady and a warm and engaging friend," said Robert DeYoung '56, vice president for college advancement. "Her years on campus during her husband's presidency were marked by her tireless energy as Hope's ambassador in the Holland community, by her strong intellect and her vibrant interest in the academic life of the college."

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 efforts 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 A. VanderWerf '37 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 schools.

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 '68 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; sisters-in-law, Anne VanderWerf '28 Wabeke and Joan VanderWerf '30 Brieve of Holland, Mich.

A memorial service will be held in Gainesville, Fla.

Memorials may be made to the VanderWerf Scholarship Fund at Hope College.


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