Dr. Donald Oppewal, PhD

10/08/1926   —   05/19/2018

Contributions in Don’s memory may be made to

Calvin College, 3201 Burton SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546.


The family would appreciate comments and remembrances of Don to be left below.

The Guestbook
  • Sharon A Etheridge

    My deepest sympathy goes to you, Jess, in the death of your husband, and to all family members. I pray that God will continue to uphold you during this time of grieving.

    I fondly remember times of talking with Don about education, and what I was doing in Haiti, helping educate nurses there.
    I will also always remember just being friends with Don and his family.

  • Henry Baron

    I’m sorry to hear of Don’s passing.
    Many good memories of our past association and participation in joint projects surface at a time like this.
    I’m grateful for all of them. Our thinking meshed on many issues and challenges, and I admired Don’s dogged dedication to make a difference where it was needed.
    It’s good to read about his fascinating past in the obit, and I now regret that I didn’t get him to talk about that more on some long car rides we had together.
    My sincere condolences to Jess and the whole Oppewal family.

  • Wendall L Smits

    Don was my English teacher at Illiana CHS during my senior year. Everyone who knew “Mr Oppewal” remembers a few things about this man who never quit. When I attended high school it was still normal dress for a male teacher to wear a coat and tie. Don had 2 sport coats; a dark green and a dark burgundy, both corduroy. He always backed up to the chalkboard while he taught and as a result erased his writing with the sportcoats. He was usually oblivious to what he wore even coming to school one day with one brown shoe and one black one. We told him during the last period. His reaction? “I never noticed.” Very early on in the year he said “If you are diligent in this course you will find I am teaching you many things your college teacher will teach.” He was correct. Grace Holton, my freshman college English teacher, was teaching us exactly what “Mr Oppewal” taught us. What a life Don has had.

  • John Steigenga

    Dear family, learning of Don’s death set in motion a series of memories. Don was the host of the welcome to LaGrave event for my wife and me when we arrived on the scene in 1978. He served in council and on committees and at one time was the director of our youth education enterprise. He stood up for women serving in all church offices at a time when that was not the prevailing stance of many in the church. He was fearless in the defense of his principles including a conviction that “general revelation” should be taken more seriously than it typically is (a Banner article he wrote not very long ago). I think he gave some lectures on that at LaGrave. One memory stands out: when we honored WWII vets at LaGrave a few years ago, Don displayed a variety of memorabilia and delivered his personal remembrance holding a Japanese rifle. He went on a little too long but since he was the one with the rifle I didn’t think I should try to stop him.

  • Steven Steenwyk, emeritus

    I’ll always remember Don’s help as he prepared us each day to teach Cristian Perspectives On Learning at Calvin College during my first year teaching an interim class (1989). These enlightening sessions held each morning did more then prepare us new faculty to face the students in our sections, they help new faculty developed a Reformed perspective on education and life.

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