Dr. Margaret Van Wylen
Dr. Margaret Van Wylen, who was Hope’s first lady for 15 years, died
on Saturday, August 4, 2018, one day before her 94th birthday.
Her husband, Dr. Gordon Van Wylen, was the college’s president
from 1972 until retiring in 1987. He survives her.
She retired from a career as a psychiatrist in 1994. Her
professional activity included serving on the staff of Holland
Hospital, Ottawa County Community Mental Health and with
Child and Family Services.
Faculty, staff and friends established the Gordon J. and Margaret
D. Van Wylen Scholarship Fund at Hope in honor of the couple,
and among other recognition from Hope, the library is named
for both of them. In conjunction with the year of their retirement,
Gordon and Margaret established an endowed scholarship at
Hope in the name of the graduating Class of 1987.
In addition to Gordon, her survivors include; five children,
Elizabeth Rudenga; Stephen (Kathy) Van Wylen ’77, Ruth
Van Wylen ’79 (Neil) Jasperse, Emily Van Wylen ’85 (Tim)
Overway and David (Patricia Lunderburg ’80) Van Wylen; 16
grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
Margaret Van Wylen’s full obituary
Dr. Margaret DeWitt Van Wylen of Holland died on Saturday, August 4, 2018, one day shy of her 94th birthday. As a loving and lovable wife, a creative and caring mother, an adored grandmother and great grandmother, a woman of deep and abiding faith, a treasured First Lady of Hope College, a trusted physician, and a greatly appreciated friend and community member, her earthly life will be will be sorely missed.
Margaret was born in Grand Haven and graduated from Grand Haven High School in 1942. She was a 1945 graduate of Duke University and attended Biblical Seminary in New York City for a year before entering the University of Michigan Medical School. As she was completing her medical degree, Margaret contracted tuberculosis; the illness hospitalized her for 16 months and delayed her graduation from medical school. She graduated in 1952, but rather than pursuing medicine at that time, she devoted herself to her home and family, returning to medicine in 1975 to complete her internship and residency in psychiatry before pursuing a medical career. She retired from a widely appreciated career as a psychiatrist in 1994, having served on the staff of Holland Hospital, Ottawa County Community Mental Health, and Child and Family Services. She also maintained a private practice.
From 1972-1987, Margaret distinguished herself as the First Lady of Hope College, where her husband Gordon served as the President. She is remembered for her warmth and grace, hosting countless guests who visited the President’s House, including students, faculty, staff, trustees, friends of Hope College, and members of the Holland community. Faculty, staff and friends of Hope established the Gordon J. and Margaret Van Wylen Scholarship Fund at Hope in 1982 in honor of the couple’s service to the college, and Hope presented Margaret with an honorary degree during the college’s Commencement ceremony in 1987. One year later, in 1988, Hope unveiled its new library, named in honor of both Margaret and Gordon. The college’s Alumni Association presented the couple with Meritorious Service Awards in 1998.
Through the years, Margaret was extensively involved in the community, where among other activities she was a member of the boards of Hospice, Community Action House, and Evergreen Commons, and an administrative elder at Christ Memorial Church. For seven years she was a Kids Hope Tutor at Van Raalte School. Prior to moving to Holland, Margaret helped launch and was deeply involved in the Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church and, with Gordon, hosted and led a Bible study for years for international students. In recognition of the remarkable manner in which she balanced family and professional life, she was named “Michigan Mother of the Year” by the Michigan Mothers Association in 1980. Along with husband Gordon, Margaret was the grand marshal for Holland’s Tulip Time Volksparade in May 2005. Margaret, Margo, Mom, Grandma, Great Grandma, Doctor –
Thank you for enriching and inspiring us by your attentive and empathetic listening, your wise counsel, your vibrant and profoundly personal faith, your enjoyment of all things big and small, your sparkle when up to something fun, and for gracing this earth for nearly 94 years with your kindness and compassion. Margaret is survived by Gordon, her husband of 66 years, along with five children: Elizabeth (Jack) Rudenga, Steve (Kathy) Van Wylen; Ruth (Neil) Jasperse; Dave (Pat) Van Wylen, and Emily (Tim) Overway. In addition, Margaret has 16 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.