Hope College is mourning the loss of two former long-time professors and coaches who made impacts on students and on campus for decades.

Gordon M. Brewer ’48 and William R. Vanderbilt ’61 each did their undergraduate work at the college, spent decades teaching and coaching at Hope, concluded service to the college in the same year and have now died within days of one another. 

Mr. Brewer, who taught and coached at Hope from 1956 until retiring in 1988, died on Sunday, April 17, at age 92.  

Dr. Vanderbilt, who taught and coached at the college from 1967 until leaving Hope to become founding executive director of Freedom Village in Holland, died on Friday, April 15, at age 76. His son, William (Bill) C. Vanderbilt ’88, has been Hope’s vice president for admissions since 2007.

Gord BrewerMr. Brewer, 92, retired from the college after the 1987-88 school year. His service covered 32 years during which he coached the men’s track and field team and served as athletic director. Brewer was also a member of the football coaching staff for several years.

Mr. Brewer authored two volumes chronicling the history of Hope athletics from its founding to 1970. Hope’s outdoor track & field facility is named in Mr. Brewer’s honor.

The Alumni H-Club honored Mr. Brewer with its Hope for Humanity Award in 2001. 

Visitation and service details for Mr. Brewer are pending.

Dr. Vanderbilt, 76, was a three-sport athlete at Hope who Bill Vanderbilt
joined the kinesiology (physical education) faculty in 1968. He was chair of the department for 13 years.

Over a 21-year career as cross country coach, Dr. Vanderbilt guided teams to 17 conference championships, 14 by the men’s team and three by the women.

Hope’s season-opening cross country invitational is named in Dr. Vanderbilt’s honor.

Dr. Vanderbilt left Hope to serve as a chief executive officer of Freedom Village in Holland.

The Alumni H-Club honored Dr. Vanderbilt with its Hope for Humanity Award in 1999.

His son, William (Bill) C. Vanderbilt ’88, has been Hope’s vice president for admissions since 2007.

Visitation for Mr. Vanderbilt is scheduled for Friday, April 22 at Dykstra Funeral Home, 188 West 32nd Street in Holland from 5-8 p.m.

Mr. Vanderbilt’s funeral is Saturday, April 23 at 11 a.m. at Christ Memorial Church, 595 Graafschap Road.