John Oosterbaan ’63
Obituary Thankful for his family’s deep love and his abundant life, John Oosterbaan passed away in his home on February 15, 2021. Born October 7, 1941, he was the beloved son of John Oosterbaan, an immigrant from the Netherlands, and Henrietta DeNooyer. Blessed by a large extended family, John and his sister, Irene, knew a happy childhood. Second Reformed Church was the foundation of their family life. John received an award for 10 years of perfect Sunday School attendance. With a smile, he credited the recognition to his mother’s determination. John graduated from Kalamazoo Christian High School in 1959 where he played center on their state championship basketball team. Two of his teammates were life-long friends. After a year at Hope College, he transferred to the University of Michigan and played for the Wolverines. He and Christine Cooper were married before his final year in law school at Northwestern University. When they returned to Kalamazoo, John joined the law firm of Howard and Howard. Years later, he established the firm of Oosterbaan and Cooper. John served 2 terms on the Kalamazoo City Commission, the second as vice-mayor. He was a Big Brother, treasurer of the United Negro College Fund, Deacon and high school Sunday School teacher at Second Reformed Church, cofounder of Michigan Insurance Company and partner of the late Marv VanderVeen, developing properties in the Midwest. John had a heart for the poor and a deep concern for the global community. In recent years he made several trips to orphanages in Nicaragua, donating sporting goods and art supplies. John and Chris enjoyed foreign travel, especially 2 trips to the Netherlands, one with his parents and a second with Irene to explore their father’s homeland. Another favorite pastime was taking watercolor painting classes with Chris in Florida. John had a close bond with his children and their spouses. He was forever grateful to Anna who donated her kidney, adding years to his life. John loved being a grandfather, talking and texting with his 9 grandchildren, encouraging their academic, artistic and athletic endeavors, sharing a list of important dates for them to memorize, sending books, and even schooling the boys on his signature basketball move. He was happy to be well enough to see his oldest grandchild, Lizzie, be married last summer. Everyone who knew John well witnessed his determination and grace through years of serious health challenges. He leaves a family who will always remember his genuine warmth and humor, generosity and philosophical discussions: wife, Christine; children, J.P. (Joan) Oosterbaan, Anna (George Mixon) Oosterbaan, David (Lindsay) Oosterbaan; grandchildren, Lizzie(Adam) Hall, Paul Oosterbaan, Teddy Oosterbaan, Cooper and Carly Mixon, Olivia, Jack, Ben and Lily Oosterbaan; sister, Irene (Ron) Zuiderveen; many cousins, nieces and nephews who were dear to him.