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Den Besten, Lawrence (1925-1987) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Den Besten, Lawrence (1925-1987)

Historical Note:

Occasionally a graduate from the Calvin Theological Seminary continues his education in a field other than theology. Lawrence Den Besten, as did Lee S. Huizenga before him, turned to medicine. In 1956, he received his MD from the College of Medicine at the University of Iowa.

Lawrence Den Besten was born in New Holland, South Dakota, on October 4, 1935. After graduating from the University of Iowa, he became a medical director at the Takum Christian Hospital in Nigeria, 1957-1960. The Nigerians often referred to him as "the laughing doctor"; he radiated his Christian faith wherever he served.

When Lawrence returned to the United Sates, he served as professor of surgery at the University Hospital of the University of Iowa, 1964-1977; staff surgeon at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Sepulveda, California, 1977-1980; and as professor and chief surgeon at the University of California in Los Angeles, 1977-1985. Two years before his death in 1987, Den Besten became provost and professor of medicine and missiology at the Fuller Theological Seminary.

A cursory check of his biographical information at Fuller reveals that the doctor published over two hundred articles and brochures for medical journals. He was always available to speak for churches at retreats and conferences. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Calvin College.

Dr. Den Besten died of cancer on June 30, 1987, at the age of sixty-two. He left behind his wife, Shirley (Langleand), and their two children. The archives received some of his papers from Shirley Den Besten. His papers include biographical material, addresses, sermonic notes, and a few paper clippings covering his activities.

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