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Vander Kooi, George (1909-1967) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Vander Kooi, George (1909-1967)

Historical Note:

George Vander Kooi was born in Paterson, New Jersey, October 31, 1909.  When he was a year old the Vander Kooi family moved to Vona, Colorado.  Young George received his grade and high school education in the small western town of Vona.  The Vander Koois were active members of the small struggling Christian Reformed Church; no doubt this made an impact for good in the growing son, George.

When George was a student at Calvin College he made profession of faith in the First Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids where Rev. D. D. Bonnema was pastor.  During his college years he decided to enter the ministry and graduated in 1936 from Calvin Theological Seminary.

In the post-Depression years there was much discussion of "over supply of candidates" and as a result a number of candidates became "stated supplies" in places where there were unorganized groups of Christian Reformed members.  Vander Kooi served for a number of years in Newton, Iowa.  In 1939 he accepted a call to Sioux City, Iowa, and was ordained in the ministry.  He served as chaplain in WW II.  His first charge after the War was East Muskegon, Michigan (1946-1953).  Later he served in Millwood, Kalamazoo, Michigan (1953-1957).  An opportunity to minister as the first full-time chaplain at the Kalamazoo State Hospital was accepted and the Millwood congregation became the calling church.  Rev. George Vander Kooi remained at this post until his death, January 21, 1967.  The last three years were difficult times for him because of the character of his illness. He was survived by his wife, Betty Douma, and their son and two daughters.

George Vander Kooi was described as a man with "a warm-hearted and sympathetic nature, well-suited to the pastoral work in which he willingly engaged."

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