Central College News

Alumnus Henry Van Leeuwen Gifts nearly $225,000 to Central

Featured: Alumnus Henry Van Leeuwen Gifts nearly $225,000 to Central

November 7, 2022

Hendrik G. “Henry” Van Leeuwen, Central College Class of 1950 graduate, bequeathed $224,787 to Central to establish the Van Leeuwen Scholarship for students.

He is remembered for many accomplishments. While at Central from 1946 to 1950, he was a member of the tennis team, campus ministries, choir, BEAKES and served as the editor of “The Central Ray” from 1949-1950. He penned many articles during his time on The Central Ray.

Following his Central graduation, he returned to his native California to earn his master’s degree in philosophy from the University of California – Berkeley. He returned to Central College in 1954 to brush up on French and German languages, required for a Ph.D. He postponed furthering his doctorate education in 1954 to fill the vacancy in Central’s philosophy department. He led thought-provoking discussions, including the Koinonias where there was debate on the authority of the Old Testament. He continued his doctoral journey and graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa.

After earning his Ph.D., he accepted a sabbatical replacement position as Hanover College’s Holliday Chair of Philosophy and led students through philosophical debates for more than 38 years. He also taught part time at the Purdue University extension in Versailles, Indiana. He was a member of the American Philosophical Association, Indiana Philosophical Association and American Association of University Professors and published two books and several articles relating to 17th century British skepticism.

In 1957, Van Leeuwen married Marie Arlene Van Hal, of Pella and a Central 1955 alumna. They had three children, a daughter, Jacalyn, and two sons, Robert and Martin.

Much of his spare time was given to his church, Hanover Presbyterian. His service to Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts extended from 1967 to 1980. He also worked with Habitat for Humanity and at the House of Hope. Despite a vision handicap, he was a master refinisher and a capable handyman from the home to the car.

Marie passed in 2008 and Henry passed in February 2022.

Van Leeuwen worked with the Central Advancement office a few years ago to complete the paperwork for his charitable gift annuity to establish the Van Leeuwen Scholarship for the benefit of students attending Central. This scholarship did not have restrictions as Van Leeuwen wanted to give the college the flexibility to award the scholarships where needed most.

“We are honored that Henry and Marie choose to establish a scholarship at Central open to any Central student,” says Michelle Wilkie, director of development at Central. “Henry dedicated his life to enriching the lives of students. This endowment allows his legacy to live on at Central. We are so appreciative of his commitment to students now and in the future.”