Arthur Hoekstra

Jul 16th 1949 - Nov 1st 2011

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Kim Radoy
April 4th 2013

Art was my social work mentor while I was earning my BSW at Western Michigan University. His wisdom meant a lot to me at the time as a searched for my place in the world of correcting social injustice. I continue to hear his words and reflect on the conversations we had. I am so sad to just hear of this news. To his family- I really feel blessed to have had the opportunity that I did- an entire year working with Art. I could not have asked for a better mentor and truly feel the Lord placed me at the Kalamazoo Deacon's Conference to meet Art and soak in his wisdom. He made me a better social work, no doubt. I am so grateful for having the chance to know him.

Kelly (Kuipers) Solano
March 12th 2013

It has been a long time since Art's passing, and I am saddened to finally hear about it. I have such great memories of walking across the street to the Hoekstra house to play after a school day at North Christian. Just the other day my own children were asking me about my time playing basketball in 7th grade. I happily shared the highlight of my season- making a "swish" basket, one of only 2 that I made that year! I shared with them how my friend Margaret's dad Art was there cheering for us at every game, and when I finally made that basket he let out a whoop and a yell, gave me a big smile I will never forget. He was always so full of joy and his memory does and continues to live on...:)

Lauren fitzmaurice
November 10th 2011

I am so very sad to learn that Art has passed. He was my graduate supervisors in 1994 for a year and I will never forget what he taught me. I was placed at the Deacon's Conference because I had been too challenging and deemed "difficult" at my previous internship placement. The placement advisor at WMU called Art and asked him to "take me on" because they did not know what else to do with me. I found out sometime later that this was not the first time the faculty called upon Art to work with students who needed help channeling their passionate energy full of questions about the inequities of life. Apparently Art never turned them down. I knew I was a bit of a square peg trying to fit in a round hole and Art set about modeling and guiding me. If it weren't for him I don't know that I would have ever made it through. Thanks Art for our conversations about forgiveness and social justice. Thank you for encouraging me and for your gift of time "just talking about stuff."

Gregg Mast
November 10th 2011

Dear Hoekstra Family and Friends of Art-

We at New Brunswick Theological Seminary met Art more than five years ago as we began to identify ourselves as an anti-racsist institution. It was Art who came from Crossroads and began to gently and wisely lead us through a process of discerning what that meant. Our common roots in the Dutch Reformed tradition and Western Michigan instantly connected us and his passion and sparkle made it all come alive for us. We are deeply saddened by his death, and at the same time, deeply grateful for the small part of his life he shared with us. May God hold you all close in these days of pain, grief and gratitude for a life well lived.

Gregg Mast

President, New Brunswick Theological Seminary

Christine Parks, CSJ
November 8th 2011

I was so saddened to hear of Art's death. In addition to being a greatly appreciated collaborator on our Congregation of St. Joseph anti-racism journey he was always an enthusiastic and hope-filled companion who inspired hope in others. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to know and work with him. Christine

Doug Wood (via Crossroads)
November 8th 2011

A very good friend from my Kalamazoo days passed away this week. Art Hoekstra is more of a hero to me than friend. Art led the anti-racism group in Kalamazoo and "agitated" me to become involved in the effort there. This is perhaps the most rewarding community involvement I have had outside my church youth group experience. While I have not had constant contact with Art since moving to Muskegon, he has remained someone I could call for inspiration and counsel.

Art died of nail cancer. Until 5:30 this morning I had never heard of it. An article about his fight can be found at In Art's ,memory I would ask you to spread the word in any way you can to those you love.

It has been hard for me to fully comprehend such a disease and the death of this very gentle and well meaning man. It has shaken me more than I would have expected or understand.

My comfort is he was a man of faith and he is in the company of saints in heaven. I am saddened by the void left behind in the important work of fighting the insidious effects of racism in our society.

Pauline Eichten (via Crossroads)
November 8th 2011

What a loss. He was a gentle warrior. My sympathies to his family and friends.

Karen Bond (via Crossroads)
November 7th 2011

Since 1997, I've had many trainers at Crossroads. Art was one of the most capable and inspiring trainers I ever encountered. His work was so completely God-centered. He always kept his eye on his vision for a better world. Heaven let us borrow him for a while, ... now he's back home. Peace & blessings to his friends and family.

George Erickcek
November 6th 2011

Art will always live inside me. Very few people had such an impact on my outlook on life as he had. It was not only his words, but much more, it was his actions and his decision to live his values. Very few of us live our values. Although, many years have passed since he and I worked, argued and shared at the Deacon's Conference, I can't believe that I will not see him again.

Brooke (Bouma) Gill
November 5th 2011

I grew up with the Hoekstra girls, and one of the hightlights of being friends with them, was being around their incredible family. Art and Mary were such unique, special, warm and loving people and really lived a life of true christianity. Art was such a "cool" dad who drove his stick shift cars fast and always had something cool to say. He just struck me as someone who walked the walk and lived what he believed in. The memories of sitting down to dinner with the Hoekstra family are such cherished memories, and Art such a presence, so wise, yet so compassionate and humble. His wonderful wife and daughters will certainly continue in his legacy and make him proud. My deepest sympathies to Mary, Alice, Anna and Margaret and the entire family. Your dad was a man after God's own heart and I am sure he is receiving his rich inheritance after a job well done, a life well lived. I feel lucky to have been in the presence of Art Hoekstra.

Janice and Tom McWhertor
November 5th 2011

It was a joy and an inspiration to work with Art. His passion and persistence in antiraicsm work was enegetically focused and thus, riveting to watch. He was also a catalyst for us - someone who pushed us beyond any lukewarm commitments in fighting racism. We are grateful for Art's clarity and example.

Our deep condolences go to Mary and all of his dear family.

Jessica Vazquez Torres
November 5th 2011

I still remember one of my first Crossroads events with Art. We were in Grand Rapids to do a documentation of the work we have been doing a Calvin College. Art picked me up and we were driving speedly from the hotel to the college when Art saw an African American couple and a White Grand Rapids police officer on the side of the road. I never saw them but he did and he stopped. I was sitting in his black honda civic going, what the hell is he doing? OMG! What is he doing?

Watching. He was watching the cop to make sure no injustice or harrassment was committed against the young couple. I watched for a while, our meeting forgotten, as he reassured the couple that he was there and that things would be ok. Art was so observant. He saw what so many of us missed. He caught the movements of those relegated to the edges and moved toward them with commitment and a spirit of solidarity.

I believe that our lives do not end when our bodies transition; that the spirit of those we love remains with us. The legacy of a life well lived remains imbedded in the work that was loved with ferocity, the people that were loved with tenderness and immesurable depth, the contiuning work of those inspired to move toward the edges by people like Art, and in the stories that live in our soul.

And so we gathered on this week of Art's transition, to remember, to be comforted, to be reminded that his was a life well lived.

Janet M. Jones
November 5th 2011

Art touched us all . . . directly and indirectly. He made me refer to my better self and always with a great deal of humor.

November 5th 2011

I had a blast the first time I met Art during the citizens academy at work. He brought up a great family and we will always be thinking of him on our long motorcycle rides!

Nelson Nave
November 5th 2011

Art was one of my favorite people. He was a nice guy under his first impression. Amnong things Art bought my last 3 Acura INtegras from me. He & I shared a love fro those cars. I will miss him and his friendship. Good luck to you Miss.

Julie Rogers
November 5th 2011

Thank you Art (and thank you Hoekstra family for sharing Art to our community!) for all your work. One of the little known committies Art served on with me was the Kalamazoo County Brownfield Authority Board. He brought new insights and always was watching out for the little guy, the marginalized, or those who didn't have a voice. You will be missed!


RoseElla P. Lyke
November 5th 2011

I remember when I first moved to Kalamazoo, Art was one of the first people I met. I needed help and Art was right there. He was a wonderful, wonderful man. More of a brother than anything else.Always willing to listen. He helped me with the kids when they were little and continued when they became adults. Please lean on Our Father's arms for comfort and rest. He will be so missed. Blessings to you all as you go through this transition.

RoseElla P

Anne Lipsey
November 5th 2011

Much love to you all - Art's leadership had a significant impact on me over the years - I treasure a cd he shared with me - Tribute to Rosa Parks - one that recognizes both the immediate action of faith and courage and the lasting legacy - for me Art will always be a symbol of faith and courage in action - you are in my thoughts today and in the days and weeks ahead - Anne

Dave and Chris Chadderdon
November 5th 2011

Mary and Family,

We are so sorry for your loss. Our thought's and prayers are with you today and always.

Akexander & Patricia Plair and Family
November 4th 2011

To the Hoekstra Fanily,

Our sincere prayers and condolances are with you all. As neighbors, we really appreciated Art and Mary. We would loved seeing them walk past our house sometimes with their dog, sometimes with their grandaughter, but always with a happy greeting and neighborly conversation. God loves you, and your family. He knows your loss and He alone can fill that void. we love you and will continue to pray with you all.

The Plair Family

Jack Smith
November 4th 2011

Art was one of my nephews, the eldest son of my Sister Gert and Her husband Herm. Art's Dad was a milkman for PleasantView Dairy, my Dad was a milkman for United Dairy Co. We shared much in common, family-wise and we both grew up in Grace Reformed church. I have long admired what Art did with his life, the passion with which he did it, and he touched the lives of many, many people. Our prayers go out to Gert, his Mom, his siblings and especially to his wife Mary as well as the many friends and loved ones he cared about and who cared about him. In all of this, it is interesting that one of the last things he did, was to save the life of a friend of his. When he discovered the similarity of her apparent skin condition, he encouraged her to have it biopsied with the result of "catching it" in time to get treatment. Art was more than just a "good man", Art was a man of God and will be missed by all.

Catherine Dance
November 4th 2011

Art was one of my original "bosses" who hired me as Vineyard Outreach Ministry's Outreach Worker in 1988. His encouragement, passion for the marginalized, love for God, and interest in helping this Ministry get off the ground was inspiring. I will remember Art with fondness, prayers and respect. My deep regard for his family as they grieve Art's death will help me remember to pray for them as well. May you all know what a beloved man your husband, father and grandfather was to many, many people.

cynthia "robinson" killingsworth
November 4th 2011


Sr. Gertrude, CSJ (via Crossroads)
November 4th 2011

You have, indeed, lost a great friend and supporter, but I’m sure Art will continue to foster your work from his side.

Timothy Hower via Crossroads
November 4th 2011

Please accept my sincere condolences for the loss of your friend. Sounds like the world has lost a beacon. I know that his light will continue to shine on in the lives of people he touched, and those they touch. Be gentle with yourselves.

Michael Byrd
November 4th 2011

My heartfelt and sincerest condolences to the Crossroads family and to Art's family at the transition of his spirit from this earth to that which so ever is after, heaven. Having met Art and smiled at his sense of humor and watched his gentle character but been witness to his strong determination for that which he believed in, I know the world is lessened by the loss of his presence in body with us. I mourn with you.

Karen Bond
November 4th 2011

Since 1997, I've had many trainers at Crossroads. Art was one of the most capable and inspiring trainers I ever encountered. His work was so completely God-centered. He always kept his eye on his vision for a better world. Heaven let us borrow him for a while, ... now he's back home.

Oemeeka A. Liggins
November 4th 2011

One thing that I know for sure is that there is nothing greater than the love of God. I miss Art. I miss working with him through ERAC/Ce, I miss his laughter and his kind & thoughtful words. I miss the way that he would genuinely sense energy in the room, and attempt to make everyone feel at home. I learned so much from him in watching him advocate for the underserved, underprivileged and underrepresented. He was a beautiful historian who just knew everything. He had a way of showing how leaders don’t have to pontificate as if on parade to be noticed or respected. Leaders, especially male leaders, show their strength by sometimes just being quiet and absorbing the intelligence that others bring into the room.

I know that God works in mysterious ways, and He has blessed me with the opportunity to work with his beautiful daughter Margaret at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. She is her father’s child…she has the some of the same gestures as he, and also has the gift of sensing energy in a room by checking-in to make us all feel at home. She advocates for everyone, just as fiercely as her daddy did and speaks truth into a room with such brilliance that often times, it’s like Art is right there speaking through her. My heart is just really heavy….for my friend and her beautiful family. I’m praying for you all.


November 4th 2011

Art and I were brother deacons and worked together at what is now known as Dismantling Racism. This brother was unique and one of a kind. Our nation could learn a lot from his life story. Rest in peace brother, it was an honor to know you. Brother Duane Hobson

Yvette Hyter
November 4th 2011

The first time I met Art was at a Crossroads Training event in Kalamazoo, MI. I learned of the training from a friend who had been looking for someone to work with on issues of anti-racism at WMU. Art approached me at the Crossroads Training and introduced himself. I introduced myself, and when I said my name his response was, "Oh yes . . . You're the answer to someone's prayers," which of course started a conversation. We worked together - collaborating between our respective organizations (Crossroads, ERAC/CE & WMU) - over the next several years all in the service of fighting for justice, inclusion and equity. He was tireless, inspiring, and an example for us all. He indeed was an answer to many prayers.

Mary and family, thanks for sharing so much of him with the rest of us... May God strengthen you in this time of loss and uplift your hearts knowing how God was glorified through the example of Art's life on earth.


Sr. Theresa MacIntyre, csj
November 4th 2011

I worked with Art for several years as the Sisters of St. Joseph at Nazareth, Michigan began the development of an anti-racism team and partnered with Crossroads and many anti-racism groups in Kalamazoo and have always been inspired by his dedication, knowledge and passion for this work. Prayers and support to Mary and all of the family at this time. Sr. Theresa

Sylvia Zapata
November 4th 2011

Art was an excellent trainer and organizer. He will be remembered by many for how he inspired those he came in contact with, like me. Thank you for sharing your life with us, Art, and thanks to his family for sharing him with everyone else. My condolences go out to his family and close friends: your loss is ours as well.

Marcus Leathers
November 4th 2011

I have been remembering Art's smile and his embracing personality. He was a gift to all of us, especially within the Anti-Racism Initaitive/ Justice work. Crossroads says good-bye to quite a worker and advocate. So do the rest of us. He was a man who stood for a number of life-sustaning causes, peace, justice, cancer awareness but I think that what he upheld most was family. He had his own way of making all of us feel that we were his family.

To our dear brother Art Hoekstra, rest in peace and may you rise in glory!

Lutheran Volunteer Corps
November 4th 2011

Lutheran Volunteer Corps is grieving along with Crossroads at the death of your colleague and friend, Art Hoekstra. His voice has gone silent but not his memory nor his effect on us and on the world. Our condolences to you all.

Kalamazoo County Ready 4's
November 4th 2011

So sorry for your loss. With deepest sympathy, Kalamazoo County Ready 4s

Daryl Sieplinga
November 4th 2011

I remember when we moved to Kalamazoo, Art and his family were among the first to welcome us to the neighborhood. His inquisitive spirit, infectious laugh and welcoming demeanor were a bright spot for us. We we neighbors, friends, brothers.

In our last days in Kalamazoo, Art joined me our garage roof as I was re-roofing it for the new owners. We talked and nailed and shared stories. He was a great human being and will be missed, but his legacy will live on -- in people and in the institutions he impacted greatly. Our love to you and the girls, Mary, as you mourn your loss.

Rob and Sandy De Cook
November 3rd 2011

We are so sorry to hear that Art has passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. I am so glad I could visit with him at Ken and Helene's when your Mom passed away. He will be greatly missed by you and your family, but what an assurance that you will all be together again in heaven. Jesus is Victorious!!!!!! All our love to you, Mary and your family.

Carl Walker
November 3rd 2011

Art--We'll miss you, man. Your guidance with the formation of Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity over 25 years ago was invaluable. The lessons you taught the others at Habitat will never be forgotten. One lesson I'll never forget is give folks choices, even when you are giving them something. You left a wonderful legacy. I'll always remember you for your depth, humor, and giving ways.

Bll Vroegop
November 3rd 2011

Art was a sopmore student of mine at Illiana Christian in Biology class in 1964, my first year of teaching.. He was a good student but rather quiet..Years later when he move to KZ we renewed acquintances again.. He had not forgotten his old teacher.

I appreciated much his efforts at KDC and his service there.

I would like to express my sympathy to Mary and her daughters and pray God grants them comfort during this difficult time.

Rest in the Lord and he will give you strength.

Sue Gaeta
November 3rd 2011

Will miss Art and am grateful for all he gave and who he was for the movement. Peace.

Trinity Antiracism Team
November 3rd 2011

The Trinity Antiracism Team (Trinity Episcopal Church - Boston) extends its condolences to Art''s wife family and the entire Crossroads community. Art and PaKou were our first trainers who Introduced many if us to thus transformative work.

Rest in peace

Julie Vandermay
November 3rd 2011

Hi Mary, Alice, Anna and Margaret –

I am so sad to hear about Art. I didn't even know he had cancer so this is a shock. He was my first boss after college, and I learned so much from him -- from how to deal with someone who smelled of alcohol at the Deacons' Conference to how to can tomatoes. He gave me a lot of confidence, introduced me to new ideas and even made me carsick on a team trip to Chicago where we went to Lincoln Park Zoo and mainly ate different things -- popcorn, hotdogs etc. all from specially selected locations. :)

You chose the right word when you describe him as passionate. He also had a good sense of humor. Art felt so strongly about standing up for and implementing his beliefs. I remember one story he told of the time he went to a resale shop and bought a couch for his basement. He'd chosen the resale shop because he wanted to show that when he advised low-income people to take advantage of such shops, he wasn't too good or too wealthy to do the same thing. I remember how he chuckled when he described the unpleasant urine odor he noticed later... next time he would make a better selection!

Art always introduced me to people we ran into. And he didn’t just introduce them, he would tell an entire story about them so that I felt like I actually knew that new person.

I haven’t talked to him in years but I’ll still miss him and I know you do too. Love and hugs to you all… Julie

Shirley Freeman
November 3rd 2011

Our paths crossed many years ago when Art visited our church to talk about the Deacon's conference and again during Crossroads anti-racism training for KPS. I have long admired his kindness, passion and integrity. I'm so very sorry for your great loss.

Fletcher and Jean Lewis
November 3rd 2011

I had the priviledge of meeting Art many years ago when I had a business in downtown Kalamazoo. I would take items to the Kalamazoo Deacon Conference and Art was always on hand with a warm greeting and words about his mighty mission. He was the star that sparkle brightly on Westnedge Ave. Due to his influence may many more stars appear in and around this city and beyond.

We send our condolences to his lovely, beloved wife Mary, his children and all the family. Our prayers of triumph and victory are spoken.......Much Love and Hugs.....Fletcher and Jean

Sandi Vos
November 3rd 2011

Art loved it in Texas, especially in the winter months. Whenever Ken suggested we light up a pile of brush down by the creek, his eyes would light up. He loved bonfires and tending them well into the night. The next morning he would be nowhere to be found and we knew we could find him down by the bonfire, poking around.

He fought the battle of cancer with every ounce of his strength. He will be missed greatly!

Jessica Aguilera
November 3rd 2011

I met Art through his daughter and my very close friend, Margaret. Upon meeting him, it was clear to me where she gets her love of truth, her unending strength and beautiful glow. Art's kindness and compassion will live on through Margaret, and the entire family. Art's life is truly a gift to us all.

Helene Tukker
November 3rd 2011

We had a great visit with Art and Mary on Sunday, Oct 23 and he was reminiscing about the times spent at our house and all the knowledge he had gleaned from reading the Handyman magazine while in the bathroom. We had a good laugh over that one. He certainly enjoyed life and laughter (and the bakery)! We're going to miss you Art!

Arthur Hoekstra