William Kendrick Hinga of Pella died in his sleep at Jefferson Place in the early morning hours of May 9, 2017. He was 88.
Bill was born Feb. 20, 1929, in Holland, MI, to Gladys Kendrick Hinga and Milton "Bud" Hinga. Their second child, he grew up under the watchful eye of his sister, Connie, who regaled her kind-hearted brother with endless teasing and unconditional love. She remained his champion throughout his life.
The youngest kid in his neighborhood, Bill often tagged along with the older boys who fished and swam off the shipping docks on Lake Macatawa. He later recalled Bob Snow of Holland as the one who watched out for him on those adventures.
Bob also sparked Bill's lifelong passion for music, inviting him over to listen to classical records on Sunday afternoons. From there, Bill discovered Dave Garroway's Chicago-based radio shows featuring Woody Herman, Benny Goodman and others on the 1940s jazz scene.
Bill played quarterback for the Holland High School football team and guard for its basketball team. He also worked as a summer busboy at Castle Park resort on Lake Michigan. It was there that he met Connie Boersma, also a local high school student and a competitor on the hunter-jumper circuit. Her spark and resolve blended well with his heart and humor and made them fun to be around.
Both attended Hope College, where Connie studied Education and Bill studied U.S. History and Political Science and once hitchhiked with a friend to Chicago to hear live jazz.
Bill and Connie married in December of 1951 before he shipped off for Korea with the U.S. Army. Upon his return to Holland, he taught high school history and coached football. He also earned a master's degree in School Administration from the University of Western Michigan, and he and Connie began a family that eventually included children Catherine, Lynn, Ann, and Thomas.
In 1962, Bill accepted a job as a high school counselor in Rockville, MD, near Washington, D.C. He later often spoke of the social unrest of those years and the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose call for civil rights moved him deeply.
The 1960s also began a family tradition of summer trips to Michigan, where they spent afternoons reading on the beach and body surfing the cold waves of Lake Michigan with extended family.
In 1965, Bill accepted a position as Dean of Students at Central College in Pella. He was one of several Hope graduates recruited by Central President Don Lubbers.
Many who attended Central in the years that followed recall Bill as a dean who knew their names and listened without judgment. Fellow administrators say his gifts for empathy and social analysis helped guide the college through the turbulent 1960s and '70s. Bill's skills and career also positioned him to understand issues of race, sexual orientation, and gender-based injustice that often seemed invisible in American society in those years.
Bill also served as head coach of the Men's Outdoor Track and Field team, winning the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships in 1978 and '79. He remained close to several of the men who poured their hearts into achieving that dream.
Bill retired from Central in 1993, and with his wife, sister, and brother-in-law, Max Boersma, hiked national parks across the U.S. He and wife Connie and their friends also enjoyed golf and the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival in Davenport.
Bill was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in his early 60s, and the disorder took a heartbreaking toll. That said, he worked diligently to maintain his mobility and voice and never lost his kind nature, amazing name recall, or clever humor.
He attended every Central College home football game last season and enjoyed a wheelchair walk in the sun, powered by his oldest daughter, on the afternoon before he died.
Bill is survived by his sister, Connie Boersma of Holland; his children, Cathy Hinga Haustein of Pella and husband, Bruce, Lynn Hinga Branderhorst of Pella and husband, Nick, Ann Hinga Klein of Des Moines and husband, Perry, and Tom Hinga of League City, Texas, and wife, Melissa; 11 grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his wife, Connie.
Visitation: Friday, May 12, noon to 7 p.m., Garden Chapel Funeral Home, Pella. Memorial service: Saturday, 6 p.m., Second Reformed Church, Pella.
Memorial gifts: Bill and Connie Hinga Scholarship Fund, Central College.
Published in The Holland Sentinel on May 12, 2017.