February 04, 2016 | Rachel Watson

Lorraine Goris Klamer and Dr. Bernard "Bernie" Klamer graduated from Calvin College in 1950.

Thanks to the generosity of a local family, three of Calvin’s academic departments have been entrusted with a gift of $1 million.

The estate of the late Dr. Bernard “Bernie” and Lorraine Goris Klamer has donated the amount to Calvin College, to be split among the biologychemistry and nursing departments. The funds will be used for scholarship endowments and research fellowships for all three departments and will support the nursing program’s community nursing component.

About the Klamers

Dr. Klamer, who passed away in 2014 at age 85, was a 1950 graduate of Calvin College and earned his PhD in biochemistry at Michigan State University. His research career spanned the fields of biology and chemistry, as he worked at Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals in Ann Arbor; the Institute of Pathology in Amsterdam; Abbott Laboratories in Waukegan, Ill., doing pharmaceutical research; and then spent 20 years conducting clinical drug trials around the world.

His wife, Lorraine Goris Klamer, was a 1950 graduate of the Calvin/Blodgett nursing program and worked in places such as Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids and Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. In the latter years of her career, she spent time educating nursing students in Racine, Wis., and advocating for the Arthritis Foundation. She was especially passionate in raising awareness about rheumatoid arthritis, which she had throughout her adult life. Lorraine passed away of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 1988 at the young age of 59.

Honoring their legacy

The couple’s children, Craig and Janet Klamer and Lynn and John Morrow, said the family carefully considered the opportunity to give Calvin the $1 million for endowments.

“We started thinking through various causes and what would be a unique way to honor them,” Craig Klamer said. “We decided the best way to honor them was by letting Calvin have a gift that will allow others to pursue what my parents had pursued as their passion and work for the Lord.”

Craig Klamer said he hopes the funds will make possible a Calvin education in the sciences for students who otherwise could not attend Calvin or who could not complete their programs because of financial obstacles.

“We hope this gift allows committed Christian students who want to pursue disciplines of nursing, biology and chemistry to do so,” he said.

Ken Erffmeyer, vice president for advancement, expressed his gratitude to the Klamer family for their gift.

“We are thankful for the lives of Dr. Bernard ‘Bernie’ Klamer and Lorraine Goris Klamer,” he said. “We appreciate the passion that their children, Craig Klamer and Lynn Morrow, have for Calvin College, demonstrated through this philanthropic partnership and the investment in our students in the critical areas of nursing, biology and chemistry. This gift will make a real difference in students’ lives by equipping them through scholarship and research opportunities.”

Arlene Hoogewerf, chair of the biology department, added her thanks.

“Not only will this enable us to choose a deserving biology student to receive a scholarship each year, but we will also be able to support summer research for students,” she said. “Summer research positions, where a student works closely with a faculty mentor, are considered to be really high-impact teaching. We always have more talented and deserving biology students who desire these summer experiences than we can support, so we are extremely grateful for this tremendous gift.”

Cheryl Feenstra, nursing professor, said the gift will help students live out Calvin’s mission.

“Our students, faculty and those we serve will all be the beneficiaries of this remembrance,” she said. “As students study and care for patients; as faculty teach, advise and do research; and as our clients benefit from our care, we are able to reflect on the generosity of the Klamer family to help us achieve the goal of thinking deeply, acting justly and living wholeheartedly.”

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