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Van Kley, Edwin J. (1930-2002) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Van Kley, Edwin J. (1930-2002)


Historical Note:

Edwin J. Van Kley was born in South Holland, Illinois on July 4, 1930. After he graduated from high school, Van Kley very much wanted to attend college, however he took an apprenticeship at R.R. Donnelly's Lakeside Press as a photo engraver. In 1951 Van Kley enlisted in the Navy serving as a dental technician during the Korean War. During his time in the Navy, Van Kley got the opportunity to visit many Asian ports. Van Kley became fascinated in East Asia, which would later play a prominent role in his future career.

After he completed his service with the Navy, Van Kley finally got the opportunity to pursue a college education. He enrolled in Calvin College where he met his bride-to-be, Elaine. After he graduated with his bachelor's degree in 17th century history in 1958, he married Elaine. Together they moved to Chicago where, Van Kley entered the University of Chicago and earned his M.A. and Ph.D.

In 1961 Van Kley returned to his alma mater, this time not as a student but rather as a faculty member. Van Kley served the college as professor of history, teaching courses on Asian and Modern European history. He also served as the chairman for the history department from 1977 to 1981 and once again in 1991-92. Along with his professor duties, he also was involved on many college committees. He served on the Library committee, Honors Program Committee, and Academic Standards Committee to name a few. One of Van Kley's largest undertaking was the four volume book entitled, "Asia in the Making of Europe which he co-authored with Donald Lach. After 33 years, Van Kley retired from Calvin College in 1995.

On a more personal level, Van Kley enjoyed traveling, cross country skiing, and mountain climbing to name a few of his hobbies. He enjoyed spending time with his three sons and grandchildren. He was also known as a spiritual leader to his friends, family, and colleagues. He was a member of Calvin Christian Reformed Church where he served as an elder and on the worship committee. On October 9, 2002 Edwin J. Van Kley passed away due to a battle with pneumonia.






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