Marlin VanderWilt ’57
Marlin Anthon VanderWilt, age 83, died on January 25. 2020, at the Resthaven Care Center. He was predeceased by his parents, Adrian and Jennie Vander Wilt, and his brother, Jack Vander Wilt.
Marlin graduated from Hope College with a major in biology and from McCormick Seminary with a Masters in Divinity and a Masters in Religious Education; he did additional graduate study at Colgate-Rochester Seminary. Over a period of 40 years, he served six churches within the Reformed Church in America (RCA): Ontario Reformed Church (Ontario, NY), Central Reformed Church (Grand Rapids, MI), First Church in Albany (Albany, NY), Hope Church (Holland, MI), American Reformed Church (Orange City, IA), and Church of the Cross (Sarasota, FL). Further, he served the RCA on the General Program Council, the Worship Commission, and the Room for All board. In his retirement, he was named Pastor Emeritus of Hope Church. His ministry was guided by his belief that God’s love is for all as he worked for justice within the civil rights movement and on behalf of LGBTQ persons. Additionally, his ministry was marked by his ability to encourage people to develop and share their gifts, as well as his creativity in developing intergenerational and other learning opportunities within the church.
In retirement, Marlin served as a retiree chaplain to retired RCA pastors and their spouses and as a Hospice chaplain. Also, he worked at Dutch Village for 15 years as a wooden shoe carver, a Delft demonstrator, and Sinterklaas. He enjoyed embracing his Dutch heritage as a collector of Delft pottery and St. Nicholas’s, cooking and eating typical Dutch foods, and traveling numerous times to the Netherlands. Finally, he loved attending theater and opera performances, as well as traveling throughout the United States and Europe.
Marlin is survived by his wife of 60 years, Judith; his four children, Jeffrey, Christopher, Jennifer (Van Hook), and Michael, along with their spouses, Darlene VanderWilt, Stephen Van Hook, and Lori DeBie; his five grandsons, Christopher Beermann (Justine), Jon VanderWilt, Jacob Van Hook, Michael (Dietre) Van Hook, and Robert VanderWilt; four great-grandchildren, Ethan, Jayden, Brinlee, and Keegan; his sister-in-law, Elynor VanderWilt; his sister- and brothers-in-law, Kathleen Parker, George Mulder (Phyllis),and David Mulder; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.