After graduating from Calvin, Bill '75 and Diane Dood Ryckbost '75 moved to the south suburbs of Chicago, where Bill began work at Elim Christian School as director of rehabilitation services. It took all but a few months before the Ryckbosts were enlisted as volunteers for their alma mater, and that dedication to Calvin has never abated.
“We first got involved in the development phonathons,” Bill said. “I remember working the phones at Evergreen National Bank, calling on alumni to give to the college.”
The local Chicagoland alumni chapter also tapped the talented couple to help on local events, like when the Calvin Alumni Players performed musicals in the area.
Three years later, a move to Holland, Mich., simply shifted the venue, not the Calvin effort. More phonathons were on their calendar, and Bill was his congregation's Calvin fund-raising coordinator.
Then, an alumni couple stepped into their lives and mentored the Ryckbosts to higher levels of service.
“Roger and Connie [Northouse] Brummel have been particular role models and mentors for us,” said Bill. “They drew us deeper into Calvin service over the years, and it was Roger who nominated me for the alumni board.”
Diane added, “The Brummels have been our role models for so many things. Their lives of constant service in God's Kingdom—for Calvin, church, school, community—have taught us much about the Christian life.”
Bill served on the Calvin alumni board from 1985–88 and was president in his last year.
“The board was an awesome experience,” he said. “I remember that in those years we shifted the focus of our association student scholarships from less of an academic focus to more of a service focus.”
That shift of emphasis, made possible because the college had significantly upgraded its academic scholarship program, made service the main qualifier for not only the association awards, but gradually throughout the alumni chapter system as well.
After the board experience, another alumni couple drew Bill and Diane into further Calvin involvement.
“The lakeshore chapter had been led by Jim and Dolly [Hofman] Strikwerda for many years,” Diane said. “They are great supporters of Calvin. We were recruited into the leadership group in the mid-'90s, learned from them, and we've never left.”
In the early days of chapter leadership, Bill would chair the meetings from his corporate office at the Gentex Corp. and Diane would organize the troops.
Diane takes the lead on many of the major events that come to the lakeshore, from planning publicity strategies to being captain of the kitchen crew that feeds visiting musical groups and event attendees. (Her menus are legendary!)
Bill plays second lieutenant to Diane and is always by her side to help coordinate the work. Both Bill and Diane are quick to point out that over the years they have been blessed to serve with dedicated alumni volunteers within the chapter who do publicity (Jessica Rooks Westra), scholarships (Brenda Brummel Katerberg) and other necessary teamwork (Bill Rowe, Catherine Ristola Bass, Shawn Pacanowski, and Ida Karelse Gemmen).
“I think service comes naturally to both of us because both of our parents were very involved in serving,” said Diane. “I can remember my dad at the old Knollcrest Festival, working to direct some proceeds to the college.”
Bill noted, “Christian education was definitely a parental emphasis in both of our families. We all lived it and breathed it.”
He added, with a wink: “And Calvin's where Diane and I met. The college is dear to us.”
Diane likes the fact that a lot of their time as Calvin volunteers has been spent as a couple.
“We've been involved with Calvin ever since we attended as students, and in our 30-some years as volunteers we've been able to share many of these experiences together. I think fully sharing your involvements is important for couples. I like that aspect,” Diane said.
And this is one couple that shows no sign of slowing down. They continue on as chapter leaders and Bill is currently serving as a trustee of the college.
“Being on the Calvin campus certainly helps keep you young,” Bill said. “It is invigorating to be among these young people and inspiring professors. We're constantly trying to get younger alumni along the lakeshore on board with us because we've seen the value it has added to our lives.”
Because the Ryckbosts were so influenced by mentor-couples such as the Brummels, they are eager to continue the legacy of mentorship with younger Calvin couples, modeling the fine points of Christian service.
“We have never seen our Calvin involvement as an obligation,” Bill concluded. “It has all been an opportunity—an opportunity to grow as thoughtful Christians life long. We've given to Calvin, but we are grateful to what Calvin has given us.”
Giving to Calvin
Majors & Minors
People at Calvin