The alumni H-Club at Hope College will present its "Hope for Humanity Award" to Dr. Dick H. Nieusma Jr. of Kentwood on Saturday, Sept. 23.
The award, first presented in 1990, recognizes Hope athletic alumni for service to others, transformation of Christian values and consistency of commitment. The H- Club consists of Hope alumni who were athletic letter winners and other honorary letter winners as approved by the H-Club's Board of Directors. The group will recognize Nieusma during its annual Homecoming luncheon, which will be held in the Haworth Inn and Conference Center.
Nieusma, who graduated from Hope in 1952, is retired from a career as a dentist that included spending more than two decades of missionary work in South Korea. He subsequently taught in dental schools in the United States, and continues to include charity dental work among his other volunteer activities.
Nieusma completed his DDS degree at the University of Michigan in 1956. He subsequently served as a dentist with the U.S. Army in Tokyo, Japan, for three years.
Following his military service, he and his wife Ruth, who he had met at Hope, became missionaries with the Southern Presbyterian Church. From 1963 to 1984, he directed a large prosthodontics residency program in the Dental Department of Kwangju Christian Hospital, a 500-bed general hospital in southwestern Korea. While in Korea, he also helped found a dental hygiene department at a local junior college, and served as a visiting lecturer at Chosun University and Chonnam University for 10 years.
Interested in the Korean language, he published study materials including both a verb wheel and a dictionary. His interest in language and professional training blended when, in cooperation with U.S. Peace Corps speech therapists, he also helped establish the first speech therapy program in Korea.
In 1982, he and former students founded Korea Dental Mission for Christ, which today supports about 20 career Korean dental missionaries overseas. While in Korea, he also led a Sunday school for 20 years at Kwangju Boys Reformatory.
He returned to the United States in 1984, and taught at Oral Roberts University, the University of Detroit and the University of Nebraska. In 1986, while at Oral Roberts University he was named the faculty member of the year.
Nieusma served on the American Dental Association's Committee for Volunteerism Overseas while he was at the University of Nebraska. In 1993, the association presented him with a certificate of recognition for meritorious service to the people of Korea.
He retired from teaching in 1994, but has remained an active professional. In 1994 he designed a dental bus for North Korea on behalf of the Billy Graham organization, and traveled to North Korea in 1995 and 1999 on behalf of the project. In 1998, he served on short-term dental mission trips to Guatemala and Nicaragua.
Nieusma currently serves as a volunteer at International Aid Inc. in Spring Lake, working with dental supplies. He also performs charity dental treatment for families of Korean graduate students at Calvin Seminary in Grand Rapids, and continues his hobby of teaching Korean to Americans. In August of 1999, he spoke in Seoul at the Fifth Conference of Medical Missions at the Yoido Full Gospel Church.
He is an active member of Fifth Reformed Church, where he is a former elder. He is a member of the ADA, the Christian Dental Society, the Christian Medical and Dental Society, and the Gideons.
His wife Ruth is also a 1952 Hope graduate. They have two children, Paul and Mary, both adopted in Korea, and four granddaughters.