This year’s Alumnus of the Year Award recognizes Rich Schutt ’76, CEO of Providence Life Services.
Also being recognized are this year’s honorary alumni award recipients. Congratulations to:
Howard and Verna DeHaan, friends of the College
Marsha Wolterink, office manager for Trinity’s Physical Plant
Dr. Derke Bergsma, former professor of theology and one of Trinity’s first faculty members
Rich Schutt ’76
Rich Schutt remembers discussions around the family dinner table about philosophy and theology that were prompted by his sister Bonnie Heirendt ’72, a then student of Trinity. Although Schutt hadn’t planned to go to college, his mother encouraged him to attend.
During his first two years of college, Schutt worked as a custodian at Rest Haven, eventually working his way up to CEO of Providence Life Services, which provides retirement living, at-home help, rehab, skilled nursing care, hospice, and elder care. Schutt said the word “providence” is a good fit for how his career has played out.
Preparation for his career began in high school and college when he worked at Rest Haven and continued in his study of business at Trinity. While finishing his education, Schutt was approached by then CEO Rich Mulder and offered the opportunity to administer the new Rest Haven South in South Holland, Illinois. Since then, Schutt has helped grow the company, eventually branching out to add ProviNet Solutions, a full-service IT company.
“Trinity prepared me well for the business experience that I’ve had,” said Schutt. “It also helped frame how that business experience related to God’s calling for my life.”
As an alumnus, Schutt doesn’t believe a person’s connection with Trinity should end at graduation. “Alumni can help make sure that educational opportunity exists for future generations,” he said. “And alumni can help find opportunities for graduates.”
Schutt has also served as a member of Trinity’s Board of Trustees. “To have the privilege of the board experience reinforced everything I thought about Trinity as a student, but it was great to see the current leadership and how they’re committed to living out the College’s values,” he said. “At Trinity, we don’t require you to share our worldview, but when you leave you will clearly understand what it is. It’s more than an intellectual endeavor, it’s an endeavor of the soul.”
Schutt holds a master’s degree in health administration from Governors State University and has more than 30 years of leadership experience in serving seniors. He has served as chair of the board of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging and has chaired the Life Services Network Association and the Health Resources Alliance boards. He has spoken extensively on issues affecting aging services. He currently serves as a member of the owner/operator advisory board of the National Investment Center. He also serves on his local church and school boards.
Schutt and his wife Linda ’98, vice president of education at Providence, have three daughters.
Dr. Derke Bergsma
Dr. Derke Bergsma began his time at Trinity at the prompting of then Professor Calvin Seerveld, professor of philosophy. Bergsma’s Latin class had the honor of being the first class held at Trinity, following the first Trinity Convocation. He continued to teach Latin for three years.
When Trinity expanded to a four-year college, Seerveld once again invited Bergsma to serve as a faculty member in the theology department. He remained active in the College for 14 years, and served as acting president for one year between Dr. Hoekstra and Dr. Van Groningen.
Bergsma refers to Trinity as an “affection” that remains with him. “Trinity has had a significant role to play in Christian higher education,” Bergsma said. “I don’t know of any other similar school with the connection opportunities like Trinity has in Chicago.”
All of Derke and Doris’s children and two of their granddaughters graduated from Trinity, and family members remain involved in their support of the College. “It is very encouraging that their presence in the constituency and program is an affirmation of my shared loyalty to Trinity,” he said.
In 1997, after 32 years, he retired from Westminster Theological Seminary and taught as an adjunct at Trinity in the theology department as well as in the Adult Studies program. He also preached on behalf of the College in area churches seeing this as “Trinity’s service to the church community.”
Howard and Verna DeHaan
Beginning in 1970, Howard and Verna DeHaan worked side by side in the restaurant business in Michigan, expanding the original Russ’s restaurant in Holland to six of their own restaurants throughout the Grand Rapids area, the last of which they recently sold.
The DeHaans became very involved with Trinity when their granddaughter Mackenzi Huyser ’97 enrolled. Huyser now serves as dean for faculty development and academic programs and professor of social work at Trinity.
In honor of Huyser, the DeHaans began the DeHaan Family Social Work Scholarship. The scholarship aids a junior or senior social work student who is committed to leadership and social justice.
Committed to Christian higher education and helping students gain access to that education, the DeHaans live that out through their love and support of the College. “When you really have a heart for something, you go all out for it,” said Howard.
That support has included gifts toward the development of the Ozinga Chapel, the Bootsma Bookstore Cafe, the Art and Communication Center, and Phase 1 and 2 of the gymnasium expansion project.
Their grandson Patrick DeHaan spoke at a Trinity Business Network event this past spring.
Marsha Wolterink began working at Trinity in 1979 in maintenance and continued in that job for nine years until she had to stop for health reasons. She was then offered an administrative position in the physical plant and eventually became the office manager, a role in which she still serves.
Wolterink explained that it is important for her to work in a Christian institution where people are dedicated not just to a paycheck but to honoring and glorifying God through their work.
“Knowing that I’m working at a Christ-centered college where faculty and staff want to praise God and continue his kingdom means everything,” she said. “I see this every day in the physical plant in the work that is done here.”
Receiving the honorary alumni award came to Wolterink as a “total shock,” but she said of her longtime commitment to the College: “Whether reserving vans or processing invoices, all of these things have eternal value if we use them to be the best witness for the Lord that we can be.”
Wolterink and her husband Ron have been married for 52 years, and they have four children and 15 grandchildren. All four of their children graduated from Trinity and two met their spouses while at Trinity. Their grandson Ryan Wolterink, son of Dan and Barb, will be a sophomore this year.