Dorothy Jane McClellan ’39, 101, of Des Moines, Iowa, died Oct. 16, 2017. Known to friends and family as “Dort,” she filled many roles during her life, including a favorite job as buyer for a women’s clothing store that gave her the chance to make business trips to New York City. A native of Kalamazoo, she married Clarence Albert “Mac” McClellan in 1943, and after he returned from military service they moved to Des Moines. She enjoyed golf, gardening, shopping and traveling and was known for her prowess in entertaining and gourmet cooking. After raising her two daughters, she returned to clothing sales and worked at the Gingerbread House. In 2006, she moved to Arizona. She was preceded in death by her husband. Survivors include her daughters, Kyle Burnis of Gold Canyon, Arizona, and Mary Sparling of Des Moines; and granddaughter.
Mildred Jane Moore ’40, 99, of Holland, Michigan, died Nov. 14, 2017. A native of South Haven, Mich., she earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Kalamazoo College and a master’s in English at Western Michigan University. She taught high school in Kalamazoo and Imlay City, Michigan, and later volunteered for many years as a teacher of English as a second language. A recipient of the Kalamazoo College Emeritus Club citation, she was a member of Al-Van Humane Society and organizations promoting foreign study and adult literacy. Survivors include her husband of 75 years, Lansford “Bud” Moore ’40; sons John and Thomas Moore; eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
Lois Ann Shearer ’41, 98, of Fountain Hills, California, died Sept. 19, 2017. A native of Benton Harbor, Michigan, she was valedictorian at Benton Harbor High School and received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Kalamazoo College; degrees in nursing, education and public health from the University of Minnesota; and a master’s of public health nursing administration and epidemiology from the University of California Berkeley. She served in the Cadet Nursing Corps during World War II and worked as a public health nurse in Minnesota and California. She was also employed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, working with Hopi and Zuni Native Americans in Arizona, and lived and conducted research in Costa Rica.Working for the California Department of Health beginning in 1952, she focused primarily on hospital infection control. Her last assignment before retiring in 1984 was with the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization in Guatemala. She was lead author and a contributor to multiple articles in professional publications. She enjoyed friends, conversation, food, music, art, culture, travel and wine, especially champagne. She was preceded in death by her brother, Larry.
Gerald Gilman ’42, 97, of Kalamazoo and Rio Verde, Arizona, died Dec. 24, 2017. A native of Kalamazoo, he was captain of the football team and the 1938 state championship basketball team at Kalamazoo Central High School. He was also captain of the football and basketball teams at Kalamazoo College. After graduation, he served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Returning to Kalamazoo, he worked in the commercial printing industry and eventually started his own business, Premiere Printing in Plainwell, Michigan. After retiring in 1987, he split his time between Kalamazoo and Rio Verde. He was an avid athlete and golfer, accomplishing three holes-in-one, and continued to play into his mid-90s. He was a member of the BPOE Elks Country Club in Kalamazoo; Kalamazoo Country Club; and the Rio Verde Country Club. He volunteered for Meals on Wheels in Kalamazoo and at the Sunshine Acres orphanage near his home in Arizona. In fall 2014, he was chosen for the Talons Out Honor Flight – Michigan, which honors Michigan veterans by flying them to Washington to visit war memorials. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Thelma (Newhouse) Gilman ’42, and second wife, Ann Gilman. Survivors include his daughter, Sandra Gilman, and son, Steven Gilman; sister, Irene Libiecki; eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
Joan (Dixon) Prawdzik ’49, 91, of Andover, Mass., died Oct. 22, 2017. A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, she also had a summer home on Lake Nubanusit near Nelson, New Hampshire. She enjoyed golf and was an avid reader. She was preceded in death by her husband, John A. Prawdzik Jr. Survivors include her children; David J. Prawdzik, Daniel B. Prawdzik and Lisa Gray of Andover and Steve D. Prawdzik of Vail, Colorado; and eight grandchildren.
Joan (Sharpsteen) Rekos ’49, 91, of South Bend, Indiana, died Dec. 16, 2017. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Kalamazoo College, she earned a master’s degree in elementary education at Indiana University and taught in her native South Bend for 20 years. She was an avid reader and advocate of education. She was preceded in death by her husband, Mario, and grandson, William (Jackie) Lewis. Survivors include six children, Elizabeth Lewis Farr, Soula Tyler, Maria Bonnell and Michael, James and John Rekos; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Elaine J. Carsok ’49, 90, of Norton Shores, Michigan, died Dec. 28, 2017. A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, she graduated from Creston High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in education at Kalamazoo College. She taught at Fairview and Main Oakview elementary schools in Grand Rapids for several years and was active in the music and physical education departments. She was a member of North Park Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids and First Presbyterian Church in Muskegon, Michigan, and directed junior, senior and children’s choirs. She was also involved with the women’s music and choral groups at First Presbyterian. She was a member of the MEA and the Grand Rapids Choral Society and Grand Rapids Community Concert and was a Service League member in Muskegon. She golfed with the ladies’ league at Muskegon Country Club, played pickleball and loved spending time at her cottage in Port Sheldon, Mich., enjoying the beach and a swim in Lake Michigan. She was preceded in death by her husband of 58 years, Paul. Survivors include her children, Paula Garver and Brad and Jeff Carsok; two granddaughters; two great-grandchildren, and a sister, Diane Gorman.
Charles L. LaVene ’50, 90, of Kalamazoo, died Jan. 4, 2018. Lavene was a lifelong resident of the Kalamazoo area who attended Kalamazoo College and graduated from the University of Kansas. He was a veteran, serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was the owner and operator of LaVene Business Interiors Inc. for 43 years, with locations in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Lansing, and was a longtime member of the Dealer Advisory Council for Herman Miller Inc. He was also a member of the Kalamazoo Rotary, the Gull Lake Country Club, Ducks Unlimited and Sigma Nu. LaVene enjoyed hunting, fishing, reading, sailing and swimming. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Phyllis (Cox) LaVene.
Herbert Stanley Dunham ’55, 87, of Farmington Hills, Michigan, died Dec. 28, 2017. After graduating from Kalamazoo College, he earned his master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In between, he served in the Army in Germany, where he worked on Morse code-related projects, and biked across Europe. Over the course of his career, he worked for Carroll College (now Carroll University) in Wisconsin, Wayne State University in Detroit, Follett Publishing, Commonwealth Life Insurance Co. and Boys Haven, a home for foster boys in Louisville, Kentucky. He loved to sing, especially hymns from the United Methodist hymnal while accompanied by his grandson Michael on the piano. His favorite was “Holy, Holy, Holy.” When he lived in Louisville, he loved to dance and sing while riding the Belle of Louisville paddlewheeler on the Ohio River. He also loved tennis, which he had played since his youth. A resident of South Bend, Indiana, during the 1960s, he admired the late Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, president of the University of Notre Dame, because of Hesburgh’s commitment to equality for all. Survivors include his sons, Scott and Douglas, both of South Bend; his sister, Joan McCombs of Prospect, Kentucky; and his grandson, granddaughter and a step-grandson. He is also survived by his companion of more than 20 years, Shirley Zimmer of Farmington Hills.
Ronald C. Schroeder ’59, 83, of Allegan, Michigan, died Sept. 13, 2017. He was retired from operating various boating concerns, including South Shore Marine Towing, ferry services in and around Lake Huron and delivering boats to locations from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. He is survived by his wife, Erma Mitchell; his daughters, Stacy Bush, Lisa Billingsley, Erin Rehberger, Lorraine Dangerfield and Arlene Mitchell; his sons, Leo Mitchell Jr. and Michael Mitchell Sr.; 14 grandchildren; and 20 great-grandchildren.
Susan (Lewis) Kitchen ’60, 78, of Crestview Hills, Kentucky, died Feb. 25, 2017. Her husband, George, preceded her in death. She is survived by her children, Rebecca Stowe Blackburn, Marnie Flowers and Robert and Nathan Kitchen; her sister, Jane Martin; eight grandchildren; and a great-grandson.
Eleanore (Helfen) Miller ’60, 78, died Sept. 15, 2017, from complications of a Parkinson’s-like disease. She had recently celebrated her 56th anniversary with her husband, Gary ’61, a former Kalamazoo College trustee whose business career took them to various locations around the country before they settled in 1997 in in Corrales, N.M. An interest in Spanish that began in high school inspired a career in teaching, including conducting English-as-a-second-language classes for children of Hispanic, Chinese, Kurdish, Russian and other nationalities and ethnicities. She was a volunteer reading teacher at Corrales-area schools and served on the board of trustees of the Corrales Cultural Arts Council. In addition to her husband, survivors include their children, Sara Miller Jobe of Ohio and Leon Miller of Texas; sister Erna Stiller of New Hampshire; brother Richard Helfen of Indiana; and two grandchildren.
Judith (Brown) Holbrook ’62, 77, of Milwaukee, died Nov. 4, 2017. A granddaughter of Allan Hoben, Kalamazoo College president from 1922 to 1935, she had been a teacher, volunteer accountant, tax preparer and arts patron and was a passionate fan of the Green Bay Packers. Friends praised her as brave, intelligent and talented. Survivors include her four children: Julie Holbrook, Lindsay Hammerer and Peter and Chadbourne Holbrook; sister Barbara Brown; brother Tom Brown; and nine grandchildren.
Robert E. Powell ’64, 74, of Colorado Springs, Colo., died Sept. 29, 2017. He earned his bachelor’s in physics from Kalamazoo College, a master’s and Ph.D. in physics from Case Western University, and a master’s in business administration from the Florida Institute of Technology. The son of an Air Force officer, he lived in France, Libya, Germany and many parts of the United States while growing up. He was an advocate of system thinking to raise the consciousness of individuals, teams and organizations and support more fulfilling, prosperous and sustainable lives.
William Klein ’73, 65, of Portland, Oregon, died May 11, 2017, from pancreatic cancer. A native of Akron, Ohio, who went to high school in St. Joseph, Michigan, he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Kalamazoo College before completing a master’s in public affairs, and a master’s of business administration and a Ph.D. in organizational theory, at Indiana University. While a student at Indiana University, he was an urban planner for the City of Indianapolis. Later, he was a professor at Penn State University for seven years, then joined the private sector, working for Dean Runyan Associates, a research, planning and analysis firm in Portland, where he was responsible for the development and design of state travel impact studies. He was an avid bicycle commuter, jazz fan, bokashi composter, woodworker, antique restorer, hiker and environmentalist. He was preceded in death by his brother, John. Survivors include his wife, Mary; sons John, Thomas and Cyril; and two granddaughters.
Peter J. Romano II ’83, 56, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, died Oct. 17, 2017, in an accident on his family’s farm in New Hampshire. Born in Bangor, Maine, and raised in Holland, Michigan, Romano graduated from Holland High School, where he was valedictorian and class president. He received his biology degree at Kalamazoo College, where he was valedictorian, captain of the swim team, a seven-time All-American in swimming, and won All-MIAA honors for each of his four years. He then earned his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed his residency at the University of California-Los Angeles and a fellowship in pediatric orthopedics at Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Florida, going on to become an internationally recognized pediatric orthopedic surgeon.
Outside his practice, he coached Little League baseball, softball, soccer and basketball and served in adult leadership roles in both the YMCA Indian Guides Apalachicola Tribe and Indian Princess Fox Tribe. He was a member of the board at Christ Church School in Fort Lauderdale for six years. Survivors include his wife, Catherine; three children, Sofia, 16, Isabella, 14, and Nicolò, 10; parents, Peter and Tara; and brothers Rex and Rob.
Daniel Caruso ’86, 53, died Aug. 25, 2017, after a 14-month battle with cancer. He played football at Kalamazoo College and went on to graduate from the Wayne State University medical school. After his residency at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix, he returned to Phoenix to launch his medical career, becoming the driving force behind the Arizona Burn Center, where he served as director. Later, he became chairman of surgery at Maricopa Integrated Health Services in Phoenix. Survivors include his wife, Diane; son Daniel II; stepdaughters Lindy Smith and Anna Anderson; stepsons Zachary and Joey Kreisheimer; mother, Grace; and brother Michael II.
Gregory Wood ’91, 48, of North Carolina, died Dec. 5, 2017. A native of Anderson, Ind., he was a member of an NCAA championship tennis team at Kalamazoo College. After graduating, he moved to North Carolina, where he worked as a supervisor for Social Security, married Missy Holmes and started a family. He and his wife later decided to become missionaries, moving with their children to an indigenous village in Mexico, where he helped found churches and strived to learn the Purèpecha language and share Bible stories with all who would listen. He was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2015 and returned to North Carolina, where he served as director of missions at Arlington Baptist Church in the Charlotte area while receiving treatment. His prayer was always that people would see Jesus had changed his life. In addition to his wife, survivors include his sons, Jerod and Alex; his daughter, Annie; his mother, Charlene and father, Boyce; and his sister, Jennifer Caldwell.
The unexpected death of Steve Strecker, whose buzzer-beating basket secured the Hornets the 1996 MIAA championship, brought his old teammates, family and friends together at Kalamazoo College on Feb. 3, 2018.
With his widow and children in attendance, Strecker’s uniform number—54—was installed on the court at Anderson Athletic Center, marking the spot where he launched the legendary lay-up that beat Hope College. Former teammates and friends raised the money for the commemoration, which also is expected to include a plaque in the Anderson gym or lobby.
Just 42, Strecker, of the Indianapolis suburb of Zionsville, died unexpectedly on Nov. 22, 2017.
“We’re still in disbelief,” said longtime friend and neighbor Steve St. John ’96, a member along with “Streck” of the 1995-96 Hornets team that was inducted into the K Athletic Hall of Fame.
A native of Ypsilanti, Michigan, Strecker also sang in College choral groups and was involved in K radio station WJMD. After graduation, he remained close with St. John, who said Strecker and his soon-to-be wife, Dr. Lisa Richter, moved to Indianapolis from Detroit in 2002 after visiting him there and “falling in love” with the city.
Employed by Wage Works, a provider of employee benefit plans, Strecker worked from home and devoted himself to serving as coach of his four children’s soccer, basketball and softball teams.
“He was very patient. He had the exact pedigree you’d want for someone coaching kids,” said St. John, a lawyer. “He was 6-6, but he was really a teddy bear.”
In addition to Strecker’s wife, survivors include children Isabella, 13, Campbell, 10, Elliana “Elli,” 9, and Grayson, 7; parents Linda Siriani and Jacob Strecker; and siblings Jenny Thornsberry and Rachael and Matthew Strecker.
James A. Mandrell, 86, of Kalamazoo, died Dec. 17, 2017. A native of Benton, Illinois, he was a graduate of Western Michigan University and was an admission counselor for many years at Kalamazoo College. He was active in a number of political campaigns, including those of U.S. Sen. and later President Gerald Ford and Michigan Gov. George Romney. He also served as an aide to U.S. Rep. Garry Brown. Later, he worked as an appraiser. He will be remembered as a good friend and inveterate storyteller. Although not a native son, he was a devoted Michigander who enjoyed spending time in many parts of the state and appreciated its diverse natural beauty. In retirement, he loved spending time with those close to him and was a frequent visitor to Caf Meli, a Portage restaurant, where he developed many friendships. Survivors include a son, James, of Duxbury, Massachusetts, and daughter, Melissa, of Concord, New Hampshire.
Richard David Nirenberg, 80, of Reno, Nevada, died Dec. 6, 2017. A native of Troy, New York, he grew up in South Orange, New Jersey. After graduating from Northwestern University, he worked in public relations for several colleges and universities, including Kalamazoo College. He was a fan of music, especially musical theater, and learned to play piano by ear. He was also a radio DJ for the American Forces Network in Germany while serving in the Army in the late 1950s. He loved hosting friends and family, treating them to his favorite restaurants, shows and venues. He shared his love for music and bad jokes, coffee ice cream and popcorn, and all of the MGM classic movie musicals. He was preceded in death by his sister, Barbara Aronson; brother, Robert Nirenberg; and his daughter and son-in-law, Rachel and Gary Seager. Survivors include his wife, Barbara; her children, Peter Morton of Carefree, Arizona, and Janice Yancey of St. Augustine, Florida; his daughter, Leah Vergotine, and son, Adam Nirenberg, both of Oak Park, Illinois; his brother, Louis, and sister, Nancy Adler; and eight grandchildren.
Kalamazoo College old-timers remember a lot of things about former Registrar Ruth L. Collins: her dedication to students, her expertise, her avid sports fandom—and her cookies.
A renowned home baker, she frequently offered them at the registrar’s office, especially at the end of term when grades were due. Students could help themselves, but faculty were denied the tasty treats unless they turned in their grades—on time. As one emeritus professor remarked, never while Collins was registrar did he turn in his grades late.
Collins, 91, died Nov. 14, 2017. A graduate of Coe College and the University of Wisconsin, where she received a master’s in education, Collins became registrar in 1974 after the death of her husband, Professor Paul E. Collins, who had held that post.
Collins, a former high school teacher, assistant professor of education at Ball State University and instructor at Western Michigan University, continued as K’s official keeper of student records until her retirement at the end of 1989, once writing in response to a question on a faculty survey that “I mind the store.”
A faculty tribute written upon her retirement noted that “for 15 years …se ran this complex and complicated operation with great efficiency, patience and good humor. …She never forgot that the College exists to serve the students, and she believed that the best way she could do that was by being informed, honest, clear, consistent and considerate.”
An avid and knowledgeable sports fan, Collins enthusiastically supported the College’s athletic teams and lived long enough to see her beloved Chicago Cubs claim the 2016 World Series, ending a 108-year championship drought. A skillful bridge player, she continued to play with three longtime friends and former colleagues until shortly before her death.
As per her wish, Collins was cremated and there was no service. She is survived by her children, David and Kathy, of Kalamazoo.