James Dyke van Putten Jr. ’55

Dr. James Dyke van Putten Jr. ’55, 84, died Tuesday, October 2, 2018.

For those who knew Jim well, they will remember a person who challenged his own paradigms, continually asking “ How do you know?” He resisted any one way of thinking. They will not remember him belittling people or calling them names or working to harm them.

In Holland, many may remember his years of dedication enriching the lives of its residents, the minds of its students and the institutions of its community. He was dedicated to his family and friends, sharing his knowledge, laughter, card skills, encouragement, and support. He could be found floating in Lake Michigan, driving convertibles, wearing bow ties, eating jelly beans, and proving there was nothing he couldn’t fix.

Born in 1934, to James and Frieda van Putten, he grew up in the great cities of the eastern and western hemispheres with his sister Barbara. Attending Hope College and the University of Michigan, he earned a Ph.D. in Physics. Jim found lifelong friends in the Fraternal Society at Hope and the Dutch House at U-M. These were friends he would return to after pursuing his love of physics. At CERN in Switzerland, Caltech and UofM, he worked with many of the greatest minds in physics including Nobel laureates.

Jim’s love for teaching brought him back to Holland in 1967 to revive the “moribund” physics department at Hope College, establishing courses found at larger universities. Having declared himself an engineer, Jim then established the Hope College engineering department. In 1996, with friends and Holland’s community leaders, Jim co-founded the Black River Public School with the vision of a rigorous college preparatory curriculum.

Jim was also an entrepreneur. In the 1970s, he founded Macatawa Computer Services leading Holland into the digital age. Understanding the power of computers he transformed accounting and medical record keeping into paperless, a method decades ahead of its time. At one point, Jim held the record for the most computers on a manufacturing assembly line.

In retirement, Jim spent most of his time at his waterside homes in Holland and the Bahamas. He continued to invent specialized radio equipment and to follow his lifelong hobby as a ham radio operator. From the time he was 15, anyone nearby could hear the sound of him calling “CQ.” He broadcasted worldwide his call letters W8QT “ Whiskey Eight Queen Tango” and introduced himself as Jim “ Japan India Mexico.”

So today, Jim is calling “CQ” from a higher place and from here on earth we call to him “love and kisses” and “best regards” or in his radio codes “88” and “73.”

A celebration of life will be held at a later time.

Jim is survived by wife Sharon (Sheffield) van Putten, son James D. van Putten, III (Susan Fox) and Dirk van Putten (Carey VandePoel) and his granddaughters Samantha, Sabrina and Lily.

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