Dr. G. Larry Penrose, who retired as a professor of history in 2005 after teaching at Hope for more than three decades, died on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. He was 82.
Penrose was born February 13, 1941, in McMinnville, Oregon, to George and Lynn Penrose. He attended Tigard High School in Tigard, Oregon, and in 1959 graduated from the Tehran American School in Tehran, Iran, where his father had taken a position as an agricultural developer. Larry subsequently joined the U.S. Army and studied Russian at the Defense Language Institute and served in Japan.
After his service, he enrolled at Portland State University in Oregon, and studied Russian and Middle East Studies. He married classmate Arlene Matson in 1965, and they both graduated in 1966. He received grants from Indiana University in Bloomington to pursue his graduate studies. They moved to Bloomington, where Larry earned his master’s degree in 1968 and completed coursework and dissertation preparation in Uralic-Altaic Studies.
In 1970, he was ready to teach. He applied only to colleges close to premier fly-fishing streams, and one of those was the Au Sable in Michigan. The Department of History at Hope extended an offer, and the Penroses moved to Holland, where he began his career.
Penrose joined the Hope faculty as an instructor, and was promoted to assistant professor in 1972, associate professor in 1977 and full professor in 1994. He received a Fulbright-Hayes fellowship for study in what was then the Soviet Union during 1973-74, and during a year-long sabbatical was in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to research Abulgazi, 17 th century Khan of Khiva. Penrose was awarded his doctorate from Indiana University in 1975. He was the author of numerous scholarly articles, reviews and presented papers.
His international focus not only shaped the courses he taught in the department — which ranged from “Ancient China,” to “History of the Soviet Union” to “Modern Middle East” — but also led him to guide students to study-abroad experiences of their own. He was director of the Hope College International Summer Session in 1971, 1972 and 1975; an assistant in international student advising from 1971 to 1975; director of the Great Lakes Jerusalem Program in 1985; and director of the ACM/GLCA (Associated Colleges of the Midwest/Great Lakes Colleges Association) Russia Program in Krasnodar in 1990, 1992, 1995, 2000 and 2002.
Penrose spent the fall of 1990 at Kuban State University in Krasnodar as the Exchange Professor of American Studies. In August of 2002, he led the Hope alumni tour of Russia, which traveled from Moscow to St. Petersburg.
In addition to his teaching and other service to the college, he chaired the college’s Academic Affairs Board during 1975-77, when Hope was revising its core curriculum, and chaired the department of history from 1980 to 1988.
Following retirement at the conclusion of the fall 2005 semester, he moved to Prineville, Oregon. He was a part-owner of Les Cheneaux Landing in Cedarville, Michigan. He loved being in the Upper Peninsula with his faithful dog, Jebe, as he worked alongside Mark and Esther Engle to bring a family summer resort back to life.
He is survived by his children, Liisa (Balzar) and Geoff; son-in law, John Balzar; his former spouse and forever friend, Arlene (Matson Clark); granddaughter, Gracie Balzar; and grandson, Gus Penrose; sister, Nancy Penrose, brother-in-law, David Muerder, brother-in-law, Pierre Sundborg, and many nieces and nephews. He is also survived by former spouse Laurie Engle VanEenenaam and her children, Katie (Carpenter) and Kyle VanEenenaam. He was predeceased by his sister, Jean (Sundborg).
Please see page eight of the December 2005 issue of “News from Hope College” (pdf format) for the
story published when Dr. G. Larry Penrose retired.