Dr. Elaine Jekel of Holland, a retired member of the chemistry faculty who played a central role in a long-running Hope program for high school chemistry teachers, died on Thursday, March 5. She was 88.
She was an adjunct professor emerita of chemistry at Hope, where she taught from 1982 until retiring in 1993. Her major teaching assignment was in the General and Analytical Chemistry Laboratory course for science majors, and she also taught Chemistry for Elementary Teachers and the laboratory component of Advanced Analytical Chemistry.
She also served as administrative secretary in organizing and operating the National Science Foundation Summer Workshops at Hope for High School Chemistry Teachers. The 24-year program, in which approximately 1,050 high school teachers from across the country participated, was directed by her husband, Dr. Eugene Jekel, who taught at Hope from 1955 until retiring in 1993 as the Edward A. and Elizabeth Hofma Professor Emeritus of Chemistry. In retirement, she co-authored a compilation of the series of laboratory experiments developed for the summer institute.
She was raised in Greenville, Illinois, and graduated cum laude from Greenville College with majors in mathematics and religion.
She initially taught at Wessington Springs Junior College in South Dakota, assigned courses in mathematics, the sciences, Greek, social sciences and the Bible. After three years, she decided to pursue a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry at Purdue University. She subsequently taught chemistry at Greenville College and at Western Michigan University, where was also faculty advisor to the chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Following her marriage in 1960 to Gene, who survives her, she also held a two-year faculty appointment in chemistry at Purdue University. She was a former member of the American Chemical Society and of the American Scientific Affiliation.
She was an active member of Third Reformed Church in Holland, serving as elder, vice president of consistory, Bethel Bible teacher and Sunday school teacher, and as a member of many church committees.
She and Gene enjoyed many motor home trips throughout the United States and also joined various international travel groups that took them to many countries. She was active in the Hope Academy of Senior Professionals (HASP) and in events and trips coordinated by Freedom Village, where she and Gene had resided since 2005.
She was preceded in death by two sisters, Joyce Zimmerman and Carol McElvain; and a brother-in-law, Gerald McElvain.
In addition to Gene, survivors include a son, Tim (Karen) Jekel; a daughter, Karen (Steven) Palmateer; grandchildren, Rachael (Josh) Follett, Hannah, Clara and Isaac Jekel, and Matthew, Joel and Abigail Palmateer; a great-grandson, Weston Follett; a sister, Violet (Marvin) Knight; and a brother-in-law, Ivan (Barbara) Jekel.
Visitation will be on Friday, March 13, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Third Reformed Church, located at 111 W. 13th St. The funeral service will take place on Saturday, March 14, at 11 a.m. at the church. After the funeral, cremation will take place at Lake Michigan Crematory in Holland, with a family graveside service at New Groningen Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Holland.