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Westra, Johan Gerard (1922-2010) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Westra, Johan Gerard (1922-2010)

Historical Note:

Johan Gerard Westra was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on August 23, 1922.  Westra was accepted into Calvin College, however, his education was interrupted by World War II. He was enlisted in the Army Air Corps, and served as a crew member on the 8th Air Force bomber. Once he returned to Grand Rapids and resumed civilian life, Westra graduated from Calvin College in 1952. He went on to earn his Master's degree from the University of Michigan in 1953. Westra was awarded with a Fulbright Fellowship to study at the Free University in Amsterdam from 1955 to 1956.

In 1958 Westra was offered an opportunity to teach at his alma mater, Calvin College. Westra became a professor in their department of political science.  Westra played a crucial role in building the college's political science department, and served as its chairman for ten years. In 1972 Westra furthered his own education by receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Professor Westra was also involved in committees both on-campus and off. At Calvin, Westra participated as chairman of both the Student Conduct Committee and the Committee on International Affairs as well as a member of the Faculty Organization Study Committee. Off-campus Westra was involved in organizations such as the Michigan Conference of Political Scientists where he served as president.  Westra also found time to be involved with his church. At his local church, the Fuller Avenue CRC, he served as an elder, a corresponding clerk, and on various committees. He also served on committees of the Christian Reformed Church such as the Advisory Committee to the Synodical Committee on Inter-Church Relations.

Westra reached retirement in 1985.  On November 7, 2010, Professor Johan Gerard Westra passed away in Grand Rapids at the age of 88. He was married to Wilma née Wegter on June 26, 1944. She preceded him in death in 1997. Westra was survived by daughter, Kathryn, and son, John.

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