Febuary 11, 2003
Aside from my parents
Ed influenced my life more than anyone else. I certainly would not be
teaching history at a college in Japan today had it not been for the
stimulation of his courses in East Asian and European history and his
support and encouragement while I was in graduate school. Ed visited
me and my family in Japan some years ago and we were able to do some
traveling together and talk about the dismal state of politics in our
respective countries. Ed was a man of strong and humane opinions.
The last contact
I had with Ed before learning of his untimely death was through an e-mail
he sent me in early 2002, as always to offer his encouragement and prayers
during a time when I had to deal with a particularly "challenging"
problem in university administration.
to Elaine, Jim, Dan, Mike and the rest of the Van Kley family. Ed will
certainly be missed, and remembered.
Huissen, Bunkyo University, Japan
I took two of his
Asian history courses in 1968-1969. Fascinating—I loved them.
He was a man who clearly loved his subject and his teaching. I always
remember his classes as being full—the mark of an excellent teacher
whose reputation gets around.
It's still hard
to believe he's gone—same with Howard Rienstra, Charles Miller
and others from your department.
'69, Baltimore, Md.
Ed, more than anyone
else, set the standard for the Calvin history department. He was a true
professional and insisted that all of us should follow university standards.
By his leadership and by providing a model of what such thoroughgoing
professionalism involved, Ed did in his way what Wolterstorff and Plantinga
did for the philosophy department. Ed inspired generations of students
who became professional scholars. When I came to Calvin, Ed's friendship
and model were formative in shaping the ways I approached my own work.
The famous episode
when Ed rode the elevator stage in the FAC down into the pit (it had
been rigged by naughty students). He announced just before disappearing
"I always wanted to go down in history." He had grace with
his wit, and much virtue which he never paraded. I miss him very much.
Harper, Calvin College
I remember Ed
most fondly as the prof who lifted the glass ceiling for me. He came
into the room on the first day of Early Modern European history, gave
us the final exam, and smiled. He gave us 20 topics that he'd cover
during the semester, he promised to pick six of them for the final,
and let us choose three. We were expected to critique the class presentation
on the basis of anything we had read. There were no assigned texts,
we had to find our own information. I have never worked so hard in a
class, nor found the challenge so much fun. Ed was an inspiration, a
mentor, a friend, and a colleague. We'll miss his presence a lot.
My memory of Ed
Van Kley has to do with his first-rate scholarship and how he passed
along that drive for excellence to his students. Ed Van Kley taught
the senior history seminar my senior year at Calvin. We each had to
write a major research paper, a frightening prospect, but one which
Prof. Van Kley made less intimidating by asking us to turn in a rough
draft before the final due date and scheduling individual conferences
with each of us. I remember my conference vividly. We were in the basement,
where the history department was then, and Prof. Van Kley took me through
my draft page by page, sometimes line by line. I had never discussed
my writing one-on-one with a professor with such intensity before. It
made me understand what was at the heart of the historian's craft: to
think hard about the past, and to convey that thinking as transparently
as possible in your writing. I am now a beginning professor of history
myself, and the day that I learned about Ed Van Kley's death I was in
the midst of individual student conferences—I stole the idea from
him—to discuss the rough drafts of their major research papers.
I hope that in my teaching I can convey to my students the same respect
and passion for careful scholarship that Ed Van Kley so generously gave
Arizona State University
When I decided to come to Calvin three years ago, one of the reasons
was the honor of serving in the position in the History department formerly
held by Ed. Ed welcomed Jan and me warmly to Calvin and Grand Rapids,
which we appreciated greatly. It remains an honor for me to be his successor
in teaching East Asian history at Calvin.
Dan Bays, Calvin College
October 11, 2002
"I will never
forget a conversation I had with Ed the year I taught at Calvin, 1976-77.
I had been in graduate school for two years, and I remarked to him that
I felt like I was always trying to catch up with my peers, who seemed
to have a great advantage in cultural education, travel experiences,
languages, and the like. I told Ed that I was a kid from a lower-middle-class
family, and that I felt a distinct disadvantage. Ed very kindly and
gently told me about his own working class background, and of serving
in the Navy while others were going off to college. He was of course
the epitome of the learned and cosmopolitan professor, and by telling
me this story, he was suggesting, first, that I should stop whining
and get busy, and second, that if a kid like him could make it, so could
I. It is no cliche to say that he was an inspiration to us all."