Saturday, August 28, 2021
10:00 AM EDT
77 West 11th Street
Holland, MI 49423
Life Story / Obituary
Dr. F. Phillip Van Eyl died on August 13 in his home at the Warm Friend senior living facility. He was 93.
Florus Phillip Van Eyl was born on April 11, 1928, in Haarlem, the Netherlands, the only child of Marinus and Helena van Eyl. When Phil was two, the family moved to The Hague, where they lived an ordinary life until the Nazi occupation. During the war they lost all of their worldly possessions in a bombardment, but survived the Hunger Winter that left thousand’s dead. During the last year of the war, at age 17, Phil joined the Dutch Resistance.
In 1949 Phil immigrated to the United States. Shortly after arriving he was drafted into the US military, serving as a paratrooper, squad leader, and information NCO for the 188th Regimental Combat Team, 11th Airborne Division. After discharge, he attended Hope College, graduating in 1955. During that time, he also became a US citizen and married Miriam Gemmill. They moved to California, where Phil entered the Claremont graduate school, earning a master’s and PhD in experimental psychology.
Phil began his teaching career at Hope in 1959 as a member of the college’s emerging Psychology Department. During his 33 years of service, he founded and developed Hope’s psychology laboratory; helped develop a more scientific curriculum; taught Hope’s first courses in research design, aging, and environment psychology; served as chair of the department; and directed Hope’s summer school as well as Hope’s first summer program for Japanese students from Meiji Gakuin University. In addition to these and countless other educational accomplishments, perhaps his proudest achievement was the founding of the Hope College men’s soccer program.
Phil and his family lived abroad for two years, the first in Ankara, Turkey, where he taught and developed the psychology laboratory at Hacettepe University. The second year was spent in the Netherlands as a research associate at the Institute for Perception, where he redesigned the curriculum for air traffic controllers and conducted research for the NATO Air Forces.
Phil loved to travel, a passion he was able to pursue even more during retirement. He visited all 50 states and all seven continents, visiting over 60 countries. He also especially loved soccer, the environment, and the arts. He served as an elder at Hope Church in Holland and was also an active member of the Presbyterian Church of Pompano Beach, Florida, when he would winter there.
Phil was preceded in death by his wives, Miriam Gemmill and Mickie Lamb, and his significant other Lynn Coutts. He is survived by his children and step children: Lyn (Gary) Newton, Christina (William) VanEyl-Godin, Sonia (Philip) Taylor, Paul (Nitikhet Slabluek) Van Eyl, Janice Sokol, and James (Julia) Lamb; 21 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; and cousins Herb (Ann) Weller, Alyda Weller, Hank (Eileen) Weller, and Betty Van Liere.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, August 28, at 10 a.m. at Hope Church, 77 West 11th Street in Holland. Rev. Jill Russell will be officiating. Burial will be in Pilgrim Home Cemetery.
One of Phil’s last acts was to present a gift to Hope College to establish a psychology fellowship that will fund collaborative research between faculty and students, a fund that will carry his name and “serve to honor the legacy of service and tradition of excellence in teaching, scholarship, and administration that Phil embodied during his decades of service at Hope.” In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution to Hope College, designated for the VanEyl Faculty Fellows, in support of this fund.
Arrangements are by Dykstra Funeral Homes-Downtown Chapel.