Paula and Ken Wigboldy
They met at a Schultze-Eldersveld residence hall gathering—he was the Schultze Hall president and she was a first-year student assigned there, but living in a rental unit called “Knollcrest South” because of high demand for on-campus housing that year.
Their friendship developed as the Calvin years progressed, with music becoming a central theme—singing with Campus Choir and Capella, with tours to Florida and England.
Ken ’79 and Paula Tuinstra Wigboldy ’80 sang their way through Calvin and beyond, with key roles in the then-popular Calvin Alumni Players, famous for its Homecoming musicals.
“Ken knows all of the words and music to the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas,” said Paula. “I don’t know anyone else that has the entire G&S catalog saved on their iPod.”
The Wigboldys’ 30-year volunteer involvement with Calvin caught the attention of the alumni association board, which honored them as the 2011 Outstanding Service Award recipients.
From a leadership role in the Alumni Players organization only a year removed from Commencement to being central Calvin contacts at their current home near Phoenix, Ariz., the Wigboldys have made Calvin a special priority in their lives.
“I was looking for some musical involvement after graduation and the Players looked like a fun group to join,” said Ken. “Before I knew it, I was on the board and after that board president as the organization shifted from G&S to Broadway musicals.”
Ken credited artistic and musical directors Don Huls and John Worst as being the creative minds behind the Players. That alumni arts group functioned well for more than 30 years—from 1960 to 1990—providing a place for alumni, students and community members to be engaged in musical theater.
“It was a terrific time and a great service to Calvin,” said Ken. “The musicals brought people to campus that otherwise would not have come.”
Following Ken’s work assignments from Century Insurance, the Wigboldys moved first to Wisconsin for a brief time and then on to Arizona in 1987, where they’ve been ever since.
They have organized and housed and paved the way for dozens of Calvin visitors over those 24 years—professors, athletic teams, music groups, interns and, in a new venture this January, an interim class in the middle of a creative tour of the country patterned after The Amazing Race television series. Ken has also been a mentor for Calvin business students.
“When we first arrived in Phoenix, we got connected to Calvin people, but it is a challenge out here because it is a mobile place, people come and go,” said Paula.
“But that just means you have to reignite the interest at some point,” she added. “Being miles and miles away doesn’t mean you change the love for Calvin that’s at the core.”
They have many highlights over the years of sponsoring Calvin activity in the Phoenix area. The Knights won the American Collegiate Hockey Association national club hockey national championship while in Arizona in 2004, fueled by an opening night spaghetti dinner organized by the Wigboldys.
Ken remembered hosting the women’s volleyball team and debating with the players about what sporting activities Coach Amber Warners had listed as off-limits as he took the team for a boat ride.
“Apparently the coach didn’t know that cliff jumping was possible on the lake we were on so that was the sport of choice,” he said.
The interest in Calvin has trickled down to the next generation in the Wigboldy family. Kyle ’06 and Crystal ’08 are graduates and Kim is a Calvin senior and a member of the NCAA Division III national champion women’s volleyball team.
“One of the reasons we do what we do for Calvin here,” said Paula, “is that Ken and I are very grateful for what Calvin has done for our kids. They have been embraced, loved and supported there. This is our way of giving back, of completing that circle back to Calvin.”