David VanHeest ’69

David Jack Van Heest: Born June 16, 1947 – Died May 2, 2023 (age 75)
David passed away early Tuesday, May 2nd after a short hospitalization. David was born in Holland, Michigan, to Rev. Jacob ‘Jack’  ’84 Van Heest and Josephine (DeJongh) Van Heest, while Jacob finished his seminary studies. David is preceded in death by both of his parents and his sister Sharron (Tony) Santefort. Surviving him are his husband of 35 years Doug Abell, sisters Marianne ’74 (Joel ’74) Bouwens, Nancy ’75 (Rev. Michael ’75) VandenBerg, and Dr. Jaci Van Heest, nephews, niece, great nieces and nephews, as well as a host of special and dear friends and family.
David graduated high school in Fulton, IL, and then attended Hope College in Holland, MI, where he graduated with a Psychology major and a teaching degree and served as the president for Alpha Theta Chi fraternity. He then taught English at Zeeland High School for 27 years where he had the opportunity to teach his nephews as well as hundreds of students that always thought of him as a tough teacher but, “the very best teacher” they ever had. David also taught at Hope College and Davenport University as an adjunct English teacher for several years.
David also put his talents to use in Saugatuck at the Red Barn Theater as a performer, set builder, and all around stagehand. He enjoyed Tulip Time and served on staff and as a volunteer, leading bus tours, announcing the parades on local access TV, and presenting a program on growing tulips. His talents seemed as diverse as his curiosity and he also put them to work, studying and becoming a Master Gardener and advisor to many backyard gardeners. David and Doug moderated the Lakeshore Gardeners for many years. David also used his faith and Master Gardener skills to help plan, implement, and maintain the Memorial Garden at Hope Church, the home of his adult faith.
Besides his artistic and writing skills, David volunteered with the Red Cross, the AIDS Quilt, Room for All, and served as both an Elder and Deacon at Hope Church. He also served on the boards of many organizations he supported. David loved to help friends with their passions and projects and enjoyed time with all of them in social gatherings and culinary activities. His family, friends, and perhaps the entire Holland community knew of his pies and desserts which he frequently shared.
David and his husband, Doug, loved walking through the neighborhood and the city meeting and talking with friends and planning to get together. They loved visiting the Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, picking out local produce and flowers to enjoy in their home. The two of them enjoyed traveling to visit friends in Florida and northern Michigan or to visit botanical gardens and greenhouses.
David was a Renaissance man with a love for learning only surpassed by his love for sharing all of it with friends. His sister sums up her brother’s loves with four words: Flowers, Food, Friends, and Faith.

Return to Current In Memoriam