Tony Muiderman, a professor emeritus of business administration at Hope College who led development of the college’s George F. Baker Scholars Program and advised the group for more than three decades, died on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. He was 94.
Muiderman, who was living in Eugene, Oregon, in retirement, joined the faculty in 1977 and retired in 2000. The graduating senior class presented him with the Hope Outstanding Professor Educator (H.O.P.E.) Award in 1986.
His greatest joy as an educator was in his role as mentor and advisor. With great kindness and wisdom, he helped guide thousands of students in their academic, career and life pursuits, and was always a keen listener ready with an encouraging word to help students reach their full potential. His office door was always open, and he was always generous and gracious with his time.
Through his management courses Muiderman emphasized values-based leadership. He believed business could be a force for good in the world and that the bottom line is not the only metric of success for an organization. He was a strong proponent of liberal arts education and felt it offered students a distinct advantage in terms of bringing a diverse and well-rounded perspective to the business world.
Specializing in business management and entrepreneurship, he became faculty coordinator of the Baker Scholars Program in 1978. Although the program had existed prior to his arrival, he implemented many of the practices that continue to this day, and continued to lead the program and mentor students for several years after retiring. The Baker Scholars Program is a leadership-development program for outstanding upper-level students majoring in economics, business or accounting.
He also served as department chair; developed an “Executive-in-Residence” program for the department; was the college’s faculty liaison to the Philadelphia Urban Semester for more than 20 years; co-led May Terms on Management in the British Economy; was assistant director of the May-June Term Meiji Gakuin-Hope program in 1984; and was a faculty representative to the Board of Trustees.
Muiderman was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1927, to parents who had emigrated from the Netherlands in 1919. He spent his first 16 years in Grand Rapids in the Christian school system.
He was a veteran of World War II, joining the U.S. Navy in 1944 at age 17 and stationed in the Pacific Theater. He was with a unit that serviced naval bases and ships along the Japanese coast after the end of the war, and his experiences included visiting Nagasaki while on shore leave three months after the atomic bomb had been dropped.
After leaving the navy in 1946, he attended Calvin University, from which he earned a bachelor’s degree. He also completed a B.S.E. at the University of Michigan and an M.B.A. at Grand Valley State University.
He was originally an engineer, but with multiple interests transitioned to a career in business and management. He spent 25 years in industry in manufacturing and in executive positions including serving as plant manager for the Herman Miller Corporation in Zeeland, Michigan, before going into teaching. He taught at Grand Rapids Community College and then Grand Valley State University before coming to Hope.
He was preceded in death by a son, Jeff ’83, in 2018. Survivors include his wife, Elly; three children, Kevin ’85 and Amy Herrington ’86 Muiderman, Julie Muiderman ’88 and Cacy Celver, and Erik ’92; a daughter-in-law, Geriann; and grandchildren Jenna and Hayes
On Thursday, November 4, 2021, the Greatest Generation lost one of its finest sons when we said goodbye to our beloved husband and father Anthony Bernard “Tony” Muiderman. He died peacefully at home surrounded by those he loved and those who loved him. Muiderman had been living in retirement in Eugene, Oregon, since 2011. He was 94. The many lives he lived while he walked the earth were informed by the scarcity of his childhood and the cruelty of the Great War. Rather than becoming embittered by these formative hardships, he instead became grateful for each precious thing and gentle beyond measure. Thus, Tony was a generous and loyal friend, a tender and loving husband and father, an unorthodox and sensitive executive, a wise and profound teacher. Tony was born May 22, 1927, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Hendrik and Johanna (Samsen) Muiderman, who emigrated from the Netherlands in 1919 via Ellis Island. He was the youngest of four children and raised during the Great Depression on values of faith, family, education and a strong work ethic. A veteran of WWII, Tony enlisted in the Navy in 1944 at age 17 and served in the South Pacific. After leaving the Navy in 1946, he attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, and then the University of Michigan where he earned a degree in engineering. While studying at the U of M, he met Elly (Eymann), the love of his life. They were married in Ann Arbor, MI in 1960. They settled in Tony’s hometown of Grand Rapids, MI and raised four beautiful children: Jeff, Kevin, Julie and Erik. His loving partnership with Elly lasted for 61 years. Tony began his career as an engineer but soon transitioned to executive positions including with the American Seating Company in Grand Rapids, MI, and as Plant Manager for the Herman Miller Corporation in Zeeland, MI. In the mid 1970’s he left the corporate world, earned an MBA from Grand Valley State University and shifted his focus towards teaching and spending more time with family. He taught at Grand Rapids Community College and then Grand Valley State University before joining the faculty of Hope College in Holland, MI in 1977. In 1979, the family moved from Grand Rapids to Holland to be closer to the college community. His most fulfilling role as an educator was as a mentor and an advisor to students. With kindness, wisdom and an easy-going sense of humor, he coached thousands of students in their academic, career and life pursuits. He loved meeting with students and was known for being generous and gracious with his time. He engaged in conversations with them by letter or phone until the end of his life. Through his management courses Muiderman emphasized that interpersonal relationships and leadership in service to others were core values in building a successful company. He believed businesses could be a positive force in the world and that the bottom line is not the sole metric of success for an organization. Tony was a lover of art, music, theater, literature and design. And a student of history, philosophy, politics and religion. A strong proponent of a liberal arts education, he felt it offered students a distinct advantage by bringing a diverse and well-rounded perspective to their lives and careers. Professor Muiderman became faculty coordinator of Hope’s Baker Scholars Program in 1978. He went on to be an essential part of the program for the next 31 years, volunteering long after his retirement from teaching. The graduating senior class presented him with the Hope Outstanding Professor Educator (H.O.P.E.) Award in 1986. Throughout his life Tony was an active member in the Reformed Church of America often serving as an elder or deacon. He was preceded in death by parents Hendrik and Johanna (Samsen) Muiderman, sisters JoAnne (Hale), Jeanne (Douma), brother Everet and a son Jeffrey. He is survived by his wife Elly (Eymann), son Kevin, Amy (Herrington) of Thompson ND, daughter Julie, Cacy Celver of Portland, OR, daughter in-law Geriann Walker of Eugene, OR, son Erik of Eugene, OR and grandchildren Jenna and Hayes. The Muiderman Family would like to express their gratitude for the outpouring of love and support from friends and family near and far.