David Palmer

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David Palmer

Cultural/Performing Arts—Class of 1977

Dave Palmer’s love of music, and his passion to share the joy that it brings, led to the creation of the Spread the Music Foundation in 2003. The Foundation’s fund, held at the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, provides financial assistance to individuals and schools for many musical endeavors, including the purchase or renting of musical instruments; instrument or voice lessons; sponsored concert events; and items such as books, instrument cases, and uniforms that are necessary to further the success of West Michigan students interested in music.

A skilled blues musician himself, Dave has been a proponent of music education and the power of music to change lives. In 2006, the “Gift of Music” program was created to give any child the opportunity to receive a starter instrument of their choice. To date, hundreds of children have benefited from this program.

In 2009, Dave began organizing free concerts at Pottawattomie Park in Grand Haven. The concerts expose the community to new artists and types of music while raising support for the Spread the Music Foundation. Dave’s efforts also include numerous fundraising events and the Walk the Beat Festival.

Dave was honored by the local Chamber of Commerce in 2009 as the recipient of the Spirit of Community Award.

Gene VanDongen

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Gene VanDongen

Athletic Achievement—Class of 1955

Gene VanDongen’s athletic career spans several sports and many years, beginning with his childhood in Grand Haven.

From learning the basics of sports on the Robbins Field Playground at Elliott and Seventh Streets to playing baseball, basketball, and football for the Buccaneers, Gene had an early and strong start in competitive athletics. Serving as captain of both the GHHS basketball and baseball teams in 1954-1955, Gene also found time to start the Varsity Club and serve as its first president. While in high school, he participated in club baseball teams, including the Continental Motors and Grand Haven Merchants teams.

After high school, Gene was awarded a scholarship to Michigan State University, although he was never able to pursue the opportunity due to an injury playing baseball. Later, Hope College pursued him for their football roster, which resulted in Gene being voted “Most Valuable Player” and given the position as co-captain of the team. While playing football for Hope College, the MIAA league voted Gene to the all-league first team. He later fulfilled his dream to study at Michigan State University, where he earned his master’s degree, preparing him for a career in education.

After college, Gene pursued teaching for Northview Public Schools, where he started a football program and coached distinguished players like Steve Moerdyk and Gary Hogeboom.

Jack Van Schelven

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Jack Van Schelven

Service to Grand Haven Area Public Schools and/or Society—Class of 1953

Jack VanSchelven’s voice is likely one of the most recognizable in the Grand Haven community. Over his 43 seasons of broadcasting for the Grand Haven Buccaneers sports teams, he has called over 400 football games, officiated high school track and cross country for 25 years, and devoted 33 years to broadcasting basketball games.

His passion for sports and his community began early, when Jack was a starting quarterback for the Buccaneers in 1951 and 1952. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree and later his master’s degree in secondary education, leading him to a career with Orchard View High School. Jack served as a coach for varsity football, junior varsity basketball, and track. He eventually assumed the role of athletic director for the Orchard View school system.

His investment in his community parallels his commitment to sports. Jack has served with several Grand Haven organizations, including the People Center, North Ottawa Council on Aging, Young Life, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He has served on the board of directors for the Tri-Cities Family YMCA and the Muskegon Area Hall of Fame.

In 1999, Jack retired from his career in education, but not from his great loves. He is still a devoted Grand Haven Buccaneer fan and loving husband to his wife, Barb, and caring father to their four children and five grandchildren.