David Palmer


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.

Michael Bont


Michael Bont

Cultural/Performing Arts—Class of 1994

Michael Bont’s natural abilities in the visual and musical arts were realized early. As a student at Grand Haven High School, he excelled at art and even created a large-scale acrylic painting that won an award at Showcase. In his free time, he played in garage bands and developed his passion for music. During his junior year of high school, Michael saw a concert by Fugazi and realized his calling was to perform music.

Using a banjo he received for his twenty-first birthday, Michael taught himself to play by listening to Jerry Garcia, Earl Scruggs, and others. While attending Western Michigan University, he met like-minded musicians and formed Greensky Bluegrass, an acoustic bluegrass band.

Greensky Bluegrass developed a significant following, performing over 150 live shows each year and releasing eight albums since their formation in 2000. They have performed at national festivals and incredible venues, including the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. They have opened and accompanied prestigious artists, including Natalie MacMaster, Bruce Hornsby, and Earl Scruggs, whose albums provided Michaels’s first music lessons.

Katherine Mayberry

Cultural/Performing Arts – Class of 1990

Katherine  Mayberry '90Katherine Mayberry has held many roles since graduating from Grand Haven High School in 1990. She is the Executive Director and founder of the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company headquartered in Grand Haven.

She holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Liberal Studies from Grand Valley State University, MFA and Master of Letters degrees in Shakespeare and Performance from Mary Baldwin College in Partnership with the American Shakespeare Center, and has also studied Shakespearean acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and the London Theatre Exchange.

A highly regarded actress, Mayberry specializes in Shakespeare and classical texts and is a sought- after director and dramaturg. She is an Adjunct Instructor of Theatre and English at Grand Valley State University, an instructor for the Shakespeare major at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and for the Shakespeare Bootcamp Institute at Interlochen Center for the Arts.

She frequently directs productions of Shakespearean plays for Pigeon Creek, mentors productions for regional universities and colleges such as Grand Valley State University and Aquinas College, and finds joy in bringing Shakespeare and school age children together in various workshops. She has won many awards for her acting, directing, leadership, and service.

Mayberry doesn’t keep her talents stateside. She taught a Shakespearean acting workshop in Genoa, Italy.

Anderson, Wanda K (Gringhuis)

Cultural / Performing Arts – Class of 1958


wanda_andersonWanda Anderson is a watercolor/mixed media artist who has captured her world of “undulating lake, hills, woods and bayou” in watercolor paint on paper and experimental media to widespread acclaim.

After graduating cum laude from Kent State University with a B.A. in Art Education, she returned to her hometown to teach art at GHHS from 1963-65. She has studied around the world and taught numerous workshops for artists. Many of her more than 750 paintings have been shown at exhibitions such as the Adirondacks (NY) National Exhibit, the Red River Watercolor Society in Fargo, ND; and the International Society of Experimental Artists in Wales and England. Closer to home, she has served as Artist-in-Residence at the Franciscan Life Process Center in Lowell and mounted one-person exhibits in Grand Rapids, Traverse City, and Grand Haven.

She currently has a one person exhibit at the Lowell Flat River Gallery, and has work in the Artist Alliance Exhibit at the Holland Area Arts Council. Another painting is in a traveling exhibit in Wales (UK).

Among the more than 100 awards her work has garnered are the Montana Watercolor Society’s National Award, the California Watercolor Association’s Experimental Award, and Best of Show at the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts. Her work can be found in more than 675 private and corporate collections and has been featured in six books.

Soljan, Tonko

Cultural/Performing Arts – Class of 1998

tsoljan_picCroatian-American film and television producer Tonko Soljan began attending Grand Haven Area Public Schools at the age of 11, after his family left Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. The 2003 Grand Valley State University graduate is now the Executive in Charge of Production for Leftfield Pictures in New York City, considered the most sought-after and successful purveyor of unscripted television properties. Some include such popular programs as Pawn Stars, American Restoration, and Oddities.

Tonko is also known for the PBS-acquired film Beyond Our Differences, and the broadly distributed 2007 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection, Adrift in Manhattan, a feature film that included such stars as Heather Graham and William Baldwin.

In addition, he runs the boutique firm Moving Image Entertainment, a production, acquisition and branding company catering to the multimedia industry. Prior to joining Leftfield Pictures, he was Head of Production and in–house producer for Entropy Films in New York City. Tonko lives with his wife Christine and daughter Allegra in the New York area.

Ruiter, Joey

Cultural/Performing Arts – Class of 1995

Joey-RuiterIndustrial designer Joey Ruiter is a 2000 graduate of the Kendall College of Art and Design, and in 2005 he established JRuiter + Studio, a design firm providing its clients everything from product concept to prototyping and manufacturing.

The winner of many prestigious design awards in a variety of industries worldwide, Joey also owns more than two dozen patents and has been featured in national media including Popular Science, Metropolis, and the show Geek-Week on the Discovery Channel. His recent project, “Inner City Bike,” has been featured online, published around the world, and on The Doctors TV show.

In June 2012, the Grand Rapids resident won several awards at the office furniture industry’s premier event—the annual NeoCon show in Chicago–including a Gold for  izzy+, a Gold for Nucraft, and the Best of NeoCon Award for Nucraft.

His signature is design that meets everyday needs in surprising ways, pushing the limits of manufacturing and confronting established expectations while being environmentally sustainable.


McDonald, Jon

Cultural / Performing Arts – Class of 1965

McDonald003Jon McDonald is a professor, program chair of illustration at Kendall College of Art and Design. For twenty-nine years, he has taught courses in illustration, painting, and rendering.

In 1969, Jon received an Illustrator’s Certificate from Kendall College and in 1972, a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute.

A nationally exhibited artist who specializes in watercolors and oils, Jon has had several one-man exhibits and his work has been showcased by many museums.

His artwork depicts such themes as the extinction of the American Indian, slavery, and blues and jazz music. His mural work can be viewed locally in the GHHS Field House and at the Muskegon Airport.

Jon is a member of West Michigan 8, a group of eight well respected artists who have each made West Michigan their home. Together, they have over 400 years of painting experience. Other members of the group include Carl Forslund, Larry Blovitz, Jack Brouwer, Collin Fry, and Chris Stoffel Overvoorde.


Baker, John Douglas

Cultural / Performing Arts – Class of 1935

John-Douglas-BakerDoug Baker will be inducted in the Cultural/­ Performing Arts Category, but he certainly qualifies for at least two other categories.

At Grand Haven High School Doug was a member of the GHHS state championship basketball team in 1935. He was also a tennis doubles state champion that same year. He spent his college years at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio and Harvard Business School. Mr. Baker served his country in the U.S. Navy during World War II as a supply officer aboard the U.S.S. Otus. He returned home to become a third generation owner and operator of D. Baker & Son Lumber Company of Grand Haven.

He was an elder of First Presbyterian Church in Grand Haven and a member of the American Legion Charles A. Conklin Post #28. Doug served as a president of the Spring Lake Country Club, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Grand Haven Kiwanis Club.

An avid music lover and accomplished musician, Doug played the saxophone and clarinet with many big bands including the Bob Warnaar Band and the Frank Lockage Orchestra in West Michigan, and the TomKats in Treasure Island, Florida.



Jarvi, Steven C

Cultural / Performing Arts – Class of 1996

Steven-Jarvi-2-ColorAfter graduating from Grand Haven High School, Steven Jarvi enrolled at the University of Michigan, where he majored in Music and Conducting. Upon graduating in 1999, he went on to the Peabody School of Music in Baltimore; was a conductor with the Washington National Opera in the Young Artist Program (selected by Placido Domingo); a Conducting Fellow at Tanglewood Music Center in Massachusetts (the summer home of the Boston Symphony); and Supporting Conductor at New World Symphony in Miami.

Mr. Jarvi is the Resident Conductor of the St. Louis Symphony and the Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. Jarvi lives in Saint Louis with his wife, Joanne, and two children, Noah and Alice.