A Canadian version of a Calvin alumni reunion

by Alyce Oosterhuis '67
Fall 2011

In 1967, eight of us pictured graduated from Calvin College or the Seminary and vacated our Bates and Thomas Street homes. In the next years, several others also graduated from the college or seminary. Most of us married teachers, preachers, professors, raised children who attended the schools in which we taught and sat in Christian Reformed Church pews. When the numbers are tallied, the 18 people photographed taught for a total of 477 years in classrooms that ranged from kindergarten to post-graduate university programs in Canada, the United States and the Netherlands. 

Although most are now retired, we served as school and church community leaders for many of those 477 years. Three became professors or deans at Calvin College, King’s College or Calvin Theological Seminary (Uko Zylstra, Alyce Oosterhuis, Henry DeMoor); three others were Christian school principals (Stu Williams, Anton Brink, Peter Van Manen); others strove to create a love of English and other languages (Jane Zylstra, Marian Williams, Helen Rose, Marian Brink); one was a university chaplain who taught courses in Catholic institutions (Tom Oosterhuis); one scientist inspired high school students while his wife taught others (Bruce and Chris DeBoer); one taught art and history after concluding his pig farming (John Rose); another developed students’ artistic endeavors (Ricki Thompson); two organized learning environments as a librarian or administrative assistant (Alys Westerman, Ina DeMoor); one taught to subsidize her Calvin years before a B.Ed. was required in Ontario (Janna Seinen). But some of the most defining moments for us were those years of living together on Bates and Thomas streets.

In 1992, some 25 years after our 1967 graduation, we reunited at a Toronto campsite to celebrate the bonds we had established and loosely maintained. This year, we reunited at the beautiful farm of John and Helen Blancke-Rose in Palmerston, Ont. Five of us came from Edmonton, Alta., one came from Amsterdam and the rest came from Ontario cities or Grand Rapids. For two and a half days we feasted on stories, memories, pictures, food, wine, camaraderie and mutual reflections. There was a frequent sound of laughter and camera clicking. 

We did not have the opportunity to attend any Calvin basketball games, concerts or theater productions usually organized by alumni committees, but that did not concern us. In Palmerston we experienced what mattered most for us in those Calvin years: the friendships; late-night debates; inspiring lectures, papers and presentations; weekend celebrations; and a cultivation of hospitality. We concluded this 44-year occasion with the promise to meet for our 50th reunion in the Edmonton area. One of us is already a widow; whether we will all be present in 2017, only God knows. In the meantime, thanks go to Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary for having provided us with the formative years that gave us careers, partners and wonderful memories. A special thank you goes to Bruce and Chris DeBoer, Anton Brink and Marian DeRaaf-Brink, and Helen Blancke-Rose and John Rose for organizing and hosting this glorious event.