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  In Memory of Don Vroon
Professor Emeritus
Professor Emeritus
Don Vroon

Most Recent Memories

Irv Zylstra ~ Knew Don as a friend.

Don and I worked on our masters degrees together one summer at Michigan State University. Our "Athletic Training Class" fielded an intramural softball team. The infield consisted of Irv Zylstra at first base, Don Vroon at second base, and "The Bubba Smith" at third base. Our funds were so limited, but Don persuaded me to purchase only one meal a day so we could attend a few Detroit Tiger night games. He was coaching Calvin's baseball team at that time. A wonderful and fun memory!

Ben Boersma ~ Knew Don as a teammate.

Ben's Memory ~ Don gave inspired leadership with a great ability to direct Calvin's strength against our competitor's best efforts. Don's leadership included positive persistence, determination and fun. Some of us had the opportunity during the recent years to encourage Don as he faced medical conderns. I enjoyed several walks with Don. Our walks and talks included thanking him for his excellence as the floor leader with other great players supporting each other. A reflective part of the walk included expressing thanks for God's many gifts to Calvin students and the accomplishments we shared on the basketball team.

Mary Papendieck ~ Knew Don as her professor

Mary's Memory ~ While taking a tennis class with coach Vroon, he encouraged me to try out for the women's tennis team. I appreciated his encouragement for me, a player that wasn't a star but someone who had potential for growth. Being on the team that year was one of the highlights of my college career. I'll always remember his gentle spirit and wonderful way of being supportive.

Memories Added Wednesday, Nov. 19

Bret Otte ~ I remember Prof. Vroon as a professor and intramurals director. I can see him in the office out in the main lobby of the fieldhouse late in the evenings. I remember thinking how strange it was for a professor to be in the fieldhouse so late at night. Now that I am a professor and coach, I realize that was simply the expression of his dedication to do the job well.

Memories Added Tuesday, Nov. 18

John Breuker, Jr. ~ I knew Don Vroon as a professor and friend

John's Memory ~ While teaching at Ashland College (now University) from 1967-1972, I helped arrange the basketball games between Ashland and Calvin as well as the Calvin Alumni reception after the game. Don never forgot and often spoke to me about them when I was back on Calvin's campus. I think those games may have been the beginning of the friendship between Don and Bill Musselman, then coach of the Ashland Eagles. Bill and his wife Chris had become friends as well as colleagues for my wife Chris and me at that early stage in our careers. I thank God for Don's positive impact, personally and spiritually, on so many students, athletes and coaching colleagues.

Carl and Bettie De Kuiper ~ We knew Don and Judy as good friends, getting togeather a few times a year to talk about old times, as we shared some of the of the same experiences at Calvin. When Bettie and I were married at Calvin Don and Judy befriended us and we had great times togeather. Don was a great athelete as you can see by his biography. What we remember most about him was his devotion to his could see it in his eyes when he talked about them. He was also the kind of guy who really was what he appeared to be...a generous person, quiet, with a good sense of humor, and a lasting friend. - Carl De Kuiper (1959-1962)

Henry Ploegstra ~ I knew Don Vroon as a classmate in 1956

Henry's Memory ~ All my life I've been about as athletic as library paste, so when I watched Don and his teammates play basketball, I cheered them from the bleachers and wished I could do what they did. Gracious in victory, dignified in defeat (rare!), Don and the rest of the Knights represented a part of Calvin that I could only admire but never join. Being at the games was an important part of my four years at Calvin; we didn't even have a home gym then, but everywhere the team played became home, and we were all in it together. I have great memories of those glorious basketball days.

Chad Engbers ~ I knew Don Vroon as a professor

Chad's Memory ~ For my P.E. requirement at Calvin, I took tennis with Coach Vroon. I was horrible at it. One time I missed a very easy return while Coach was standing right behind the court where I was playing. Trotting after the ball, I insisted that I only made such errors while he was watching. "Oh, I know that," he said with a chuckle. "I wasn't watching you." He smiled and pointed to the very end court. "I was watching them. I like to see how people are playing when they don't think anyone's looking. If I'm ever right behind you, you can be sure I'm not watching you." I'm not sure how true this really was. Could he really ignore a tall guy like me flailing away right before his very eyes? In any case, it worked. His presence no longer rattled me. As a teacher, I have come to use Coach Vroon's strategy in my English classes, especially when working with multiple small groups. If I am ever standing relatively close to your group, you can bet I'm listening to the one across the room.

Nancy Meyer ~ I knew Don Vroon as a colleague and a friend

Nancy's Memory ~ I worked with Don for close to 20 years. I always had a special friendship with him and respect for him. He took the time to take an interest in me and my work, was very generous (gave me my current tennis racquet, special teas, etc.), and confided in me about his visions for Calvin athletic philosophy. He loved his family deeply and enjoyed showing me pictures of them. Not being a morning person myself, I could relate to Don's temperment too:) I already miss him!

Memories Added Monday, Nov. 17

Irma Fedders ~ I knew Don as an the man that was in charge of Intramurals at Calvin. I worked as an assistant in Phys Ed and coordinated new schedules for Intramurals with him. He was always friendly and wanted the very best for the students. He made intramurals very competitive for the students and they loved it.

Irma's Memory ~ I worked in Phys Ed for a couple of years. Don was in charge of Intramurals for the students at Calvin while I worked there (86 - 89). He really made the teams competitive. I remember one semester they tried indoor hockey with a real puck. The kids loved it, but it got a little rough. After a few accidents (the puck actually was launched up into the lobby of the PE Building and broke some glass in the intramural office) he decided that it was too risky and someone might get hurt. The students were very sad to see the end of hockey in their intramural competition. Don loved those students.

Paula Wigboldy ~ I worked in the PE office during my 4 years at Calvin

Paula's Memory ~ Lots of memories come to mind when I think of Don Vroon -- he'd walk in to the office to start the day, barely look up, to say good morning, but always would give a little nod. Then later in the morning, when I'd walk back to his office to deliver some materials or ask a question, he'd give you a slight smile -- at that point you knew he was "engaged." I was just a student, part- time employee in the office, but when he gave you his attention, he gave ALL his attention. And then, I experienced that to it's fullest when I took his tennis class -- so I wouldn't have to wear at PE uniform... definitely NOT a tennis player -- but after a little work with me -- he smiled, and said, "I think we've got something here we can work with..." I smile now... he was looking for that high point -- a way to give me encouragement. He'll be a welcome addition to heaven...

Sara Christner ~ I knew Don Vroon as a Coach

Sarah's Memory ~ My husband, Mark Christner, works with the Calvin men's basketball team. He talks often of the respect and admiration that he has for Coach Vroon. He and the staff have always appreciated his intense loyalty to Calvin (and the basketball program), his honesty, and, of course, his sense of humor. Please know that your family will be in our thoughts and prayers as you continue on without Coach Vroon - he was a wonderful man!

Jerry Bergsma ~ I knew Don Vroon as a colleague

Jerry's Memory ~ When I began coaching at Calvin in the mid-90's I had the pleasure of talking frequently with Coach Vroon about team chemistry, practice preparation, and being a leader. Don's insight and experiences were invaluable to me. What often began as a discussion about athletics ended in sharing things that were of much more worth.

Doris Zuidema ~ colleague in the PE dept. and first cousin

Doris' Memory ~ Don was always willing to take time to share his ideas with you. He was a great advocate for women, and was especially helpful to me when we were trying to increase the number of sports for women. He helped women's athletics by coaching the basketball team and bringing them to a top notch program. He will be missed but never forgotten.

Kim Gall ~ I knew Don Vroon as as a friend and fellow coach

Kim's Memory ~ Although Don had retired from teaching at Calvin when I arrived on campus as a member of the HPERDS department, he was still coaching the men's tennis team. From early in my time at Calvin until his passing this week, he has been a faithful encourager and supporter to me. He was a very caring man and always ready to lend a hand to help. I will miss seeing him and chatting with him on his regular visits to the HPERDS department.

Joel Ploegstra ~ I knew Don Vroon as coach, second semester freshman basketball, '64-'65

Joel's Memory ~ I first got to know Coach Vroon by playing freshman basketball. He was away doing graduate work for the fall semester of 1964, so Wes Vryhof started the season. Coach Vroon returned for the second semester. He not only got to know each of us quickly, but was always available to talk throughout the season and the following years. Each Saturday afternoon, most of the varsity and freshman players, current and former, would meet at the gym for pick-up games. It was usually the varsity against all challengers. Coach Vroon always there, and usually played, while keeping a close eye on "his team". Had the three point basket been in effect when he played, he would have scored many more points. We all enjoyed his two handed push shot and his unique sense of humor. He will be missed, but not forgotten.

Deborah L. Vroon-King ~ I knew him as Uncle Don

Deb's Memory ~ Greetings from Southern California. I have great memories of our families sharing Thanksgivings together. Cousins and turkey made for many wonderful times. Uncle Don was a wonderful Uncle and he will be missed greatly. May the God of all comfort ... comfort our family in the days to come as we miss our brother, husband, father, uncle and friend. Love in Christ to you all. Your cousin and niece, Deb

Herb Van Iddekinge ~ I knew Don Vroon as Coach, professor, and friend

Herb's Memory ~ I have so many memories over the years. I remember when I was a freshman at Calvin, how he took me under his wing, encouraged me to be the manager of the Basketball team , and how that led to a 36 year career as a teacher-coach at Holland Christian High School. I most recently spent about an hour talking life and basketball with him at a Calvin-GVSU scrimmage on Monday, November 10. I'll miss him a lot, part of me has died.

Charlie Huizinga ~ I knew Don Vroon as a friend

Charlie's Memory ~ Don and I first became friends when he would stop by the physical plant just to say hi and ask how I was doing. From there on we grew closer because of our love of basketball and the students here at Calvin. One of the biggest thrills in my life came when Don became Calvin`s women's basketball coach and ask me to coach the J.V. team. He was such a positive influence on the team and me. I think my best memory of Coach Vroon was the team bus rides. He would have his wife and my kids go along as much as possible because family was so important to him. We shared a lot of laughs and I gained so much wisdom from my relationship with Don. Thanks coach for your love for me and my kids. Charlie(Trumpet)

David Huisken ~ I knew Don Vroon as a Coach

David's Memory ~ I traveled with the basketball team as a statistician. I remember coach Vroon speaking about his love of country & western artists. We all gave him grief about it being old fashioned, hick music. We just didn't know how hip he was regarding this.

Jack and Dorie Kremers ~ We knew Don Vroon as friends and neighbors

Jack and Dorie's Memory ~ Don and Judy were super neighbors on Loralee. We moved from Ann Arbor to Grand Rapids the summer of 1966. Our boys grew up together and were great friends for the 3 years that we lived there. Judy and family, you are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. We are sorry we cannot be there with you in person. May God comfort you with the knowledge that Don was used by Him in the lives of so many young people throughout his life. Love, Jack and Dorie Kremers, Scott, Steve and Susan

Ron Fisher ~ I knew Don Vroon as a PE Teacher

Ron's Memory ~ Coach Vroon was always available & understanding, especially for some of us who were "mature" students in his P.E. classes. Our sympathy to his wife & family.

Buck Riley ~ I knew Don Vroon as a friend and coaching colleague

Buck's Memory ~ My first year at Adrian College in 1982, Don welcomed me to the MIAA at our annual media at Albion College. His welcome proved to be sincere as we were not only coaching colleagues, but friends. Don was a gentleman on the sidelines but an extremely competitive coach during the game. Directly after the game he was always complimentary toward my players and staff. He always encouraged me to hang in there. Rarely did we beat Calvin, but the first time that we won, he gave me a big hug and was genuinely happy for me. After his retirement we talked infrequently, but I would routinely ask about Don through Kevin Vande Streek because we had the same mutual respect for Don. A few years ago at the Calvin homecoming,as I was walking through the hallway to the gym prior to our game, I heard a familiar voice yell my name. When I turned around, there was Don waiting to give that same hug that we shared as coaching colleagues. He inspired me that day, much the same as he did years ago. I will miss my friend.

Greg Broene ~ I knew Don Vroon as men's tennis coach (170-1974)

Greg's Memory ~ Mrs. Vroon, Coach Vroon knew not only the technical side , but also the mental side of the game of tennis. I remember talking to him after numerous matches. He had the insight to say exactly the right thing to me - whether it was congratulations in victory, encouragement in defeat, or just a general analysis of the way I played. He always was right on the money with his assessments. He hated to lose, but he always helped his teams keep things in perspective. I had the opportunity to be, perhaps, one of the last people to talk to him before his stroke. We sat together watching the GVSU/Calvin Men's Basketball scrimmage last Monday at Grand Valley. It was great fun to share thoughts on the current team and the upcoming season. He enjoyed the role he played in advising Streek and scouting Calvin's opponents. The program will miss his insight and enthusiasm. I am so sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you and your family.

Ken Fletcher ~ I knew Don Vroon as basketball/baseball coach and friend

Ken's Memory ~ Dear Vroon Family, I had the privilege to have Don as my coach at Calvin in 2 sports during 61-65. He probably is one of the most influential male role models in my life. I grew to respect him very much. He was a great competitor and loved student-athletes will all his heart. Thank you for sharing him with the Calvin College family. Ken Fletcher, Athletic Director, Kalamazoo Christian High School

Betty VandeGuchte ~ I knew Don Vroon as a friend and co-worker in PE office

Betty's Memory ~ I was a part-time secretary in the PE office for 28 years. In the early years we had one large office divided by partitions. My cubicle was right in front of Don's. I was known to use a few not very nice words when I made a mistake or when things were not going right. One day Don came in, and with a twinkle in his eye, handed me a plant and told me that if it grew up straight and tall he would know that my speech had improved, but if it died, he would know the opposite. Mart and I saw Don a few weeks ago while we were stopped at a red light. We were not able to talk but we waved at each other and that same twinkle was in his eye. We will miss him.

Bill Klenk ~ I knew Don Vroon as a coach.

Bill's Memory ~ I remember Don as a Coach for both the Men's and Women's Basketball teams. Over the years Don and I developed a friendly relationship which continued for all the years we coached together in the MIAA. I can rember the many times when he would bring his tennis teams to Alma and I would stop by the courts to visit and find out how things were progressing with Don. When he visited our gym, many times when scouting, he would always stop by and say hello. Don was a tremendous representative of Calvin College and the MIAA. He truly represented all that was good about athletic competition. A true friend, he will be missed by all. Bill Klenk, Former Basketball Coach, Alma College

Charlie Goffnett ~ I knew Don Vroon as a coach

Charlie's Memory ~ I met Don when he took over the women's basketball duties at Calvin College. He was one of the "good guys" that undoubtedly has left a mark on any one who has come into contact with him. He was an intense competitor on the court and a genuine good human being and friend after the contest. My best to Don's family during this most difficult time.

Do you have memories of Don Vroon you'd like to share?
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Contact Phil de Haan
616-526-6475 (v)
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