Robert Vander Vennen

4 October, 192814 December, 2018

Robert Earle Vander Vennen

1928 - 2018

Bob Vander Vennen was born on October 4, 1928, in Grand Rapids, MI, to Joseph and Gertrude Vander Vennen. He was a loving older brother to Elaine, who passed away in 2014. He graduated from Calvin College and received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Michigan State University. On September 17, 1953, he married “the minister's daughter”, Mary Huissen, in Grand Rapids. They moved to Washington, D.C., where Bob held a research position at the U.S. Naval Research Lab for two years, and where their first son, Mark, was born. Their second son, Paul, was born in Jackson, Mississippi; in 1956 the lure of teaching led him to accept a chemistry professor position at Belhaven College, a small Christian college there. Their daughter Kathy was born in Chicago. In 1959 Bob took on the task of teaching chemistry at a brand new college in Chicago, Trinity Christian College, where he became Academic Dean. In 1974 the family moved to Toronto, where Bob assumed an executive position with the Institute for Christian Studies until his retirement. Over the years Bob also played key roles in the establishment of King's University in Edmonton, AB and Redeemer University College in Hamilton, ON. After retirement, Bob served as part-time Executive Director of Global Scholars Canada.

Bob had a lifelong interest in the connections between Christianity and science and in Christian higher education which honoured both. He was a long-time member of the American Scientific Affiliation and spearheaded the establishment of its Canadian branch, the Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation. He was a lifelong member of the Christian Reformed Church, and he loved Grace Church in Scarborough.

Bob was a loving husband of Mary and devoted father, grandfather and great-grandfather. The family grew to include Mark's wife Alice and Paul's wife Judy, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Bob was an articulate writer and speaker, driven by a sense of selfless service of others and a passion for the Gospel.

Although in later years Alzheimer's Disease robbed him of his memory and at last attacked his body, he never lost his kind, gracious, polite, encouraging spirit. As a family we praise God for Bob's life and for God's faithfulness in taking him home.

Donations in Bob’s name may be made to the Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto, or World Renew.


  • Visitation

    Thursday, 20 December , 2018

  • Memorial Service

    Friday, 21 December , 2018


Robert Vander Vennen

have a memory or condolence to add?

Joseph John

16 June 2019

I remember Dr Vander Vennen from the time I began my year of studies at ICS in Aug /Sep 1976. I remember him as kindly , with always a smile each time we met. I was then a student from the Far East, Singapore to be exact, and appreciated his welcome to a setting that in a number of ways was difference from my own Brethren background.

That year at ICS shaped my life in many ways and still remember with fondness my time there learning from the Senior Members.

I never met his wife Mary but learned later that she was a psychotherapist. I too have, since my return from Canada in 1979 functioned as a counsellor over the last about 40 years.

The Lord look after you, Mary , in the years he has for you!

Joseph John