Everett “Ev” Nienhouse ’58

Everett James Nienhouse, 84, of Carlsbad, California, passed away peacefully on November 17, 2020.

Ev was born in Oak Park, Illinois, the son of Edward and Gladys Nienhouse. Ev attended Oak Park High School where he was a national champion hurdler. He graduated from Hope College with B.S in Chemistry, a M.Sc. from Northwestern University and a Ph.D. from SUNY at Buffalo.

Ev participated in the Hope Vienna Summer School abroad program in 1956 and counted it as one of the fine experiences of his life. He was married to the late Elaine Vanderbrug for thirty three years. They had two children, Eric and Jonathan. Ev taught at Ferris State University for 30 years and took advantage of numerous sabbatical leave opportunities which took him to the University of Groningen (Neth.) to UNC (Chapel Hill), the SE MO Crime Lab (Cape Girardeau), Dartmouth (Hanover), Montana State (Bozeman) and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

During his tenure at Ferris State University, he was the youngest faculty member to be promoted to full professor in Ferris State’s history. He received multiple other honors including being named Distinguished Professor of the Year by his Ferris State colleagues in 1975 and Professor of the Year by Ferris State students in 1980; the Michigan Association of Governing Boards of State College and University Award for excellence in teaching, research and scholarly activities in 1984; and elevation to Distinguished Merit Professor in 1992. In 2012, Hope College awarded him the Distinguished Alumni of the Year for his significant impact as an educator. His passion for teaching organic chemistry contributed to countless of his students’ academic successes and made a difference in the lives of over 4000 students while serving at a variety of schools.

He lost his late wife to cancer in early 1998. Later, while attending his 40th college reunion, he met his lovely wife Erika who also participated in the Vienna Summer School Program in 1956. A reunion romance ensued which magically culminated in their marriage in October of 1999. They lived a “two coast” life, enjoying lovely Carlsbad, California, winters and cool Northwestern Michigan summers at his beloved Farm House property. Ev and Erika were married for 21 years and enjoyed many adventures together.

Ev’s Dutch background included a kind of mysticism that helped to explain his deep religious faith. He loved sacred choral music, researching the backgrounds of writers and composers of the Great Hymns of the Faith, and playing interesting piano arrangements of these hymns. He also enjoyed researching topics from the History of the Navajo Code Talkers to the Use of Poisonings in Contemporary Detective Fiction.

His love of life stemmed in large part from his close brush with death at age 39 which led to implantation of a nuclear powered heart pacemaker, his being one of very few in the world. He felt that each day was a gift from God and lived it to its fullest, never shying away from difficult tasks. He will be remembered by many as a very special and unusual friend.

Ev is survived by his wife, Erika and his two sons, Jon and Eric. He was an enthusiastic, multi-talented and good man. We will miss him.

When Tomorrow Starts Without MeWhen tomorrow starts without mePlease try to understandThat an angel came and called my nameAnd took me by the handThe angel said my place was readyIn Heaven far aboveAnd That I would have to leave behindAll those I Dearly LoveBut When I walked through Heaven’s GatesI felt so much at homeFor God looked down and smiled at meAnd told me “Welcome Home.”So When Tomorrow starts without meDo not think we’re far apartFor every time you think of meRemember I’m right there in your heart.  Poem adapted from “When Tomorrow Starts Without Me”, by David M. Romano.

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