Ralph Luimes ’83 remembers as a young boy rummaging through his father’s closet and finding numerous books about theology and philosophy. There were hand-written notes in many of them, telling the story of a deeply serious and searching person.
“Maybe I can go there someday,” the young Luimes thought. “Perhaps I can finish my father’s story at Calvin.”
Initially, it didn’t appear things would work out that way.
After high school, Luimes went to the University of Guelph to study agricultural science. He intended to go into farming but after a few attempts to start a farm fell through, he was left with choices to make.
Calvin came back into the picture and, at the age of 21, he enrolled at the college to become, he thought, a physical education teacher.
He earned a degree in secondary education, combining biology and P.E., and also played hockey and soccer at Calvin. Spending so much time in the gym was good for another reason: He met Deb Ver Hill ’83, his future wife, who was on the Calvin volleyball team.
Ralph and Deb married and began teaching in Sarnia, Ont. He was eager to get his master’s so the family moved to his boyhood hometown of Williamsburg so he could attend the University of Ottawa.
He ran a construction company while going to school and upon graduation was asked to lead the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools.
Moving to Caledonia in 1991, he took a position working for the provincial and national governments on agricultural issues. Five years later became the CEO of Hald-Nor Credit Union, where he’s been ever since. Recently, the company announced a merger with Libro Credit Union.
Luimes’ involvement with Calvin picked up after his three-year term on the Calvin alumni board. He continued organizing and hosting alumni events in Ontario for many years after his service.
But his engagement with the college diversified. Professor Marv Zuidema, Luimes’ former soccer coach, asked him to assist in physical education curriculum reviews for Christian Schools International.
Next, Sally Vander Ploeg invited Luimes to become a member of the Spoelhof Society Advisory Council, interacting with the college about planned giving programs. After being off the council for a time, he is about to rejoin the group this year.
Luimes was chosen as an alumni trustee on the Calvin College board of trustees, and he served as a thoughtful and productive counselor for the college from 2007–2013.
And then there’s hockey. Luimes loves the sport. He has always played and often coached the sport, and when Calvin was looking into renovating the Jolly Roger Ice Arena in Grand Rapids (so it could become home to teams from both Calvin and Grand Rapids Christian High School), Luimes was in the middle of the planning and the fundraising.
The new Eagles Ice Center is the result, with Luimes especially helpful as a consultant on the design of the dressing rooms.
“Calvin gave me a new set of glasses with which to look at the world through,” he said. “Calvin provides the values that help each of us make a small contribution, to improve the square inch we inhabit.”
Ralph and Deb’s children—Heather, Katy and Rich—are all Calvin graduates. Rich, like his father, went to Calvin as an adult student after serving with the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan. Ralph is grateful to Calvin for showing uncommon sensitivity to both him and his son as older-than-average students.
And Calvin is grateful to Ralph for many years of faithful, thoughtful and diverse service to alma mater.