Lawrence Veenstra ’54

Dr. Lawrence Earle Veenstra, 91, was surrounded by loved ones on March 14, 2023, when he passed from this world to his heavenly home, where he now sings with the angel choirs. Larry was born and grew up in NW Grand Rapids, Michigan, the oldest of eight children born to Bernie and Marie Veenstra. In 1977, he accepted a position as Professor of Psychology at Wingate College, and he and his family moved to Wingate, North Carolina. For 45 years he regularly came back to spend summers in Michigan, finally returning to his home city of Grand Rapids in 2022. He was blessed with many gifts and shared them generously with those around him, as a music performer, educator, choir director, travel coordinator, amateur astronomy instructor, boat captain, church leader, family member, and conversationalist. His delight in connecting with others and the beauty of God’s creation was so often evident in the joyful and sometimes mischievous twinkle in his eyes. He was gifted musically. He started young by performing in a family group, the Melody Four, which toured at churches across the Midwest. Throughout his life he enjoyed playing piano, adding flair to church hymns on the tympani, and directing multiple church choirs. He held multiple degrees: a BS in History and Physics from Calvin College, MA in History from University of Michigan, and a PhD in Psychology from Michigan State University. Larry was a talented educator at all levels from middle school to university and took great pride in seeing individuals’ personal and intellectual growth. His students often expressed gratitude for his ability to make any subject interesting and relevant to learners from all backgrounds. He taught at Creston Christian Middle School (1953-1977) and Wingate University (1977-2001). He also taught part-time at both Calvin College and Hope College during the 1970s. Larry enjoyed traveling the world, and he sought out places with beautiful lakes, beaches, and scenery. He deemed the lakes of northern Michigan among the most beautiful waters in the world and relished spending time camping, boating, and swimming there with family and friends. He is survived by his wife Dianne Lynn Veenstra (nee Jolman), two daughters, Dr. Tamara Veenstra of Redlands, CA, (and husband Jason Bauer) and Dr. Michelle Johnson of Alexandria, VA, (and husband Jared Johnson), and two grandchildren, Savyion and Gabriella.

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