Robert Stoel ’63

After July 1, 2023, the world grew a little quieter and heaven filled with the boisterous greetings of Robert (Bob) Stoel who was reunited with his parents (Herman and Maggie) and his son Brent, who died shortly after birth.

Bob was born April 10, 1940 and grew up on the northside of Holland ice-fishing in the winter and blueberry-picking in the summer.

His life forever changed the day he met 15-year-old Sharon Waterway at Jack’s Restaurant. He soon became a regular. A regular trouble-maker for Sharon. But as he does with everyone, he won her over with his good-natured charm. They were inseparable for the next 65 years, attending every sporting event of their athletic children and grandchildren.

Bob’s commitment to family was not merely on the sidelines however. He was a hands-on father, and when his sons started families of their own, he and Sharon took great joy in providing childcare to all of their grandchildren and even their great-grandchildren over a span of 35 years.

Professionally, he graduated from Hope College in 1963 and began teaching English at Maple Valley in 1964, but the majority of his career was devoted to the students and athletes at Hamilton High School where he taught for 29 years.

His best lessons were not only in the classroom but also on the football field and wrestling mat. In 1968 he established the first wrestling team at Hamilton High School after the Administration asked for a coach. Bob read a book on wrestling and went on to coach successfully for 27 years, eventually passing the Head Coach title to his son Gregg. Even after retiring, Bob and Sharon continued attending Hamiton sporting events; the Hamilton students affectionately referred to him as Grandpa Stoel.

Today, Hamilton wrestlers practice in the Stoel Wrestling Room, a testament to the institution Bob Stoel was at both the school and in the community. His sons have grown to coach their own sons. All of his daughters-in-law and one granddaughter are educators, like him, and have learned much about patience and generosity from him. He has had many of the same lasting friendships for over fifty years. His legacy is strong.

Telling stories about Bob for years to come are his wife of 60 years, Sharon, his brother Carl (Susan) Stoel and sisters Marsha (David) Windemuller and Karen (Mark) Gee and sister-in-law Doreen (John) Veenman and many nieces and nephews; his sons, Gregg (Brenda) Stoel, Ron ’87 (Beth) Stoel, and Eric (Michelle) Stoel; grandchildren, Todd (Courtney) Stoel, Malory (Jason) Postma, Cameron (Rachel) Stoel, Li (Nick) Giese, Jake Bommarito, Brendan Stoel, Ella Stoel, Abby Stoel, Maddie Stoel, Zach Stoel, and Sara Stoel; great-grandchildren Talia and Damian Stoel, Ryinn and Naomi Postma, and one on the way.

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