Ronald Hartgerink ’64

RONALD HARTGERINK, 77, March 21, 1942-June 12, 2019

His tireless life’s mission to help solve wide ranging issues of business, science, and community concluded, Ronald LeeHartgerink passed away peacefully at home in South Haven, MI, on June 12, 2019, following a courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

He was born March 21, 1942, to Margaret and Elmer Hartgerink in Zeeland, MI. His family ancestry is traced to Alexander Hartgerink, who came to America from the Netherlands in 1845 in pursuit of religious freedom. Ron’s roots were firmly planted in Zeeland, through their home church, the Second Reformed Church of Zeeland, where the funeral service will be held.

After graduating from Zeeland High School, he attended Hope College, majoring in chemistry, and he received his PhD in organic chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. He was a 53-year member of the American Chemical Society.

He married Barbara Voorhorst on June 12, 1964. They raised three sons, living in CA, NJ, TX, LA, and MI in 55 years together. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his brother John (Cindy) of Baton Rouge, LA, sister Ellie (Michael Huvane); three sons, Daniel (Mariella), Jeffrey (Lynn), both of Houston, and Kevin of South Haven; and three grandsons Alexander, Ryan, and Miles.

Ron had been working in research management for Exxon when his father encouraged him to come to South Haven in 1989 to lead the Wyckoff Chemical Company. A decade before that, Elmer Hartgerink had come out of retirement to revitalize the struggling business. After Ron retired, he faced a similar experience when he too helped to save the business from shut down, by helping to find a buyer. It was sold to DSM-Catalytica Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; and now is Albemarle.

As a community advocate, Ron had an ability to create consensus among leaders from varying local governmental bodies. This was evidenced through his membership on the South Haven Area Resource Council (SHARC), the South Haven-Casco Townships Water and Sewer Development Authority, The South Haven Local Development Finance Authority, the South Haven Public Schools Citizens Advisory Committee, South Haven Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, South Haven Community Hospital Authority, Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy and South Haven Area Youth Development Council. He also served on the boards of the Lake Michigan College Foundation and Chemical Bank Shoreline.

Ron’s community service was recognized by the South Haven Mayor’s Award in 2004, and a City of South Haven proclamation in 2014. He also received a State of Michigan proclamation in 2014.

Christian education was important to Ron. He served on the boards of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary. He was instrumental in the creation of the Network of African Congregation Theology (NetACT), a network of 55 theological institutions from many Christian organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In spite of all these activities, Ron made time for his family. He was an amateur astronomer, and loved taking his young sons on astronomy trips. Computers were coming of age as he embraced this technology and engaged his sons in it. He loved to do gardening with Barbara. He was able to play with abandon with his grandchildren. He was a caring listener and made deep friendships. He was generous and always ready to help. He loved going out for dinner with close friends and family. Holidays were times for gathering. He was kind in every way. He will be missed by all who knew him.

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