George Vanderhill, a man whose engaging personality, sharp intellect, and love of his Lord Jesus endeared him to family, friends, and parishioners, died on October 5 in Holland, Mich. He was 95 years old.
Vanderhill graduated from Hope College and then Calvin Theological Seminary in 1945. He served the Christian Reformed Church for over 43 years in the following congregations: Bluffton Chapel in Muskegon, Mich.; Dearborn (Mich.) CRC; and Wheaton (Ill.) CRC. He was also active in outreach activities in Detroit and Ann Arbor.
Vanderhill’s strong and steady leadership provided direction for a racially charged classis in south Chicago in the 1970s. He was elected to synod (the annual leadership meeting of the CRC) eight times, served on the denominational Home Missions Board, and chaired what was then called the Foreign Missions Board for several years, during which time he traveled to Nigeria and Liberia.
After retiring in 1988, Vanderhill moved to his home on the lakeshore near Holland, Mich., for the remainder of his 95 years. He preached in many local churches. As its oldest alumni football player, he stayed connected to his beloved Hope College, faithfully attending many concerts, lectures, and sporting events.
“My dad,” said one of Vanderhill’s sons, “was a people person in his vocation and avocation. He was genuinely interested in others.” Vanderhill had an amazing ability to recall people’s names and their stories in detail. He lived life with humor and joy and interest in all of God’s creation. An avid reader, he would often quote passages from poetry. He exhibited a vibrant faith and engagement with life to the end.
Vanderhill was preceded in death by Eleanor, his wife of 64 years, and a grandson, Micah. He is survived by his his children Matthew and Marjorie, Mark and Marlene, Luke and Pamela, and by eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.