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Russell DeVette

July 9, 1923 - November 25, 2009
Holland, MI

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Visitations


Thursday, December 3, 2009
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM EST
Christ Memorial Church
595 Graafschap Road
Holland, MI 49423
(616) 396-2305

Use Entrance B or C

Thursday, December 3, 2009
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM EST
Christ Memorial Church
595 Graafschap Road
Holland, MI 49423
(616) 396-2305

Use Entrance B or C

Services


Friday, December 4, 2009
11:00 AM EST
Christ Memorial Church
595 Graafshap Road
Holland, MI 49423
(616) 396-2305

Use Entrance B or C

Contributions


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Hospice House of Holland
270 Hoover Blvd.
Holland, MI 49423

Holland Rescue Mission
356 Fairbanks Ave.
Holland, MI 49423

Life Story / Obituary


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Faith, strategy, and commitment were ongoing themes in the life of Russell DeVette. He was a man of great courage, whether he was valiantly serving his country, proudly coaching his team, or thoughtfully raising his family. The legacies he leaves are numerous, and it can be undoubtedly declared that Russell DeVette was a man of exceptional character.

The 1920s were an important time in American history, as the "Roaring Twenties" changed the way we looked at art and culture. It was during this time period that Russ was born, in Muskegon, Michigan. He enjoyed an active childhood, playing the trumpet in the school band and being a part of both the basketball and football teams. It was in these early days that Russ began to demonstrate qualities of leadership, consistently involving himself in school activities and extra curriculars.

It was no surprise that Russ would want to continue his education after high school, and he enrolled at Hope college in Holland, Michigan in 1941. Although he intended to be a part of the class of 1945, his education was interrupted by service in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, and Russ bravely met this challenge. He served with the United States Marine Corps during WWII and the Korean Conflict, returning to complete his degree in 1947. During his pre-war years as a student, Russ was a member of the 1942-43 "Blitz Kids," the first Hope men's basketball team to go undefeated in MIAA play. Sports were an important part of his education at Hope, and Russ was able to thrive in a competitive environment, always pushing himself to perform the best that he could. He was the first recipient of the most valuable player award from the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA), an achievement that he was very proud of.

After graduating from Hope with a degree in history education, he went on to the University of Michigan for a master's in physical education before returning to the college to teach and coach. It was then that he met Doris Koskamp, who was a student at Hope and was working at the switch board and mail room. The two fell quickly in love, and were married August 26, 1949 in Oostburg, WI. This was the beginning of a beautiful life they would spend together, and they began by honeymooning on Spider Lake in northern Wisconsin at a secluded private cottage. He served an additional three years in the Marine Corps in the 1950s and coached basketball for one year at the University of Maine before returning to Hope.

Russ and Doris began a loving family, and would have six wonderful children. Family vacations were 8 people in a 3 seat station wagon headed to either Wisconsin or Florida to visit family, Interlochen to tent camp, or to Wakeshma, a sports camp. He raised his children with Christian values, instilling in them the importance of kindness, commitment, and honesty. Russ and Doris were so committed to taking care of children that they took care of over ten foster babies over the years. The DeVette household was one of compassionate love.

As a member of the Hope College faculty, he developed the college's physical education minor, and also served as the athletic director and chairperson of the department. Russ taught and coached at Hope College for nearly 40 years, from 1948 until retiring in 1988 as professor emeritus of physical education. In 1986, he co-authored the book "Coaching Basketball: The Complete Book from Beginning to Championship Play" with faculty colleague Dr. William Vanderbilt. At times in his Hope career he coached three sports in the same school year.

Russ was head coach of the men's basketball team from 1948 to 1951 and from 1956 to 1977. During 24 seasons, his basketball teams captured nine MIAA championships and one NCAA regional crown. He was also head football coach from 1955 to 1969, during which the team won two MIAA titles, and he remained on the football coaching staff as defensive coordinator through 1987. He also served as head coach in both baseball and women's track. His baseball teams won league championships in 1953 and 1954, and his women's track team won league championships in 1981, 1982 and 1988. The teams combined to win 14 MIAA championships.

Russ was named the Michigan NAIA Coach of the Year in basketball for 1956-57. From 1975 to 1981, he was a member of the first basketball committee for the NCAA Division III, serving as the committee's chairperson during the last two years. In 1989, he was inducted into the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame. Hope College's annual Russ DeVette Holiday Tournament in basketball is named in his honor.

As well as his commitment to sports, Russ was also heavily committed to his community. He was a member of the Holland City Council for three terms, from 1975 to 1987. His community service through the years has also included coaching and mentoring the Ottawa Hustlers, a basketball team comprised of adults with learning disabilities; Meals on Wheels; Everegreen Day Health; teaching English as a second language with Community Education; The Bridge Store; and serving on the board of Camp Geneva. In 2007, the Hope College Alumni H-Club presented him the "Hope for Humanity Award."

While his athletic and coaching achievements are legendary, he will be remembered as a man who lived his life with extraordinary Christian convictions. He was a charter member of Christ Memorial Church, and he loved classical music and music of the 1940s. He, of course, loved to watch sports on television, along with Lawrence Welk and 60 Minutes. As a chef, he did all the grilling, and loved preparing the perfect cheese omelette. He was an avid player of tennis, golf, lawn bowling, loved to work in the garden, or go ballroom dancing. Active as he was, Russ also enjoyed simple and quiet activities like sitting down to enjoy a good book. After retirement, Russ and Doris did a lot more traveling, including trips to the Netherlands, Europe, and the Elderhostels. They often went for trips in their motorhome, never losing that strong connection they had felt so many years before.

Russ and Doris were soon blessed with many beautiful grandchildren, and Russ enjoyed spoiling them every chance he got. He never missed their sporting events, and cheered them on every step of the way.

Unfortunately, Russ passed away on Monday, November 23, 2009 at Hospice House of Holland.

He will be so deeply missed, and his legacy of commitment and sportsmanship will live on in the hearts of his loved ones.

Surviving are his wife, Doris of 60 years; children and grandchildren, Christi and Glenn Hayden of Whitehall (Keith and Jeff), Lynne and David Bouvea of Phoenix, AZ, Joel and Crystal DeVette of Holland (Lisa, Dan, and Heidi), Steven and Sheila DeVette of Grandville (Mike and Brad), Kurt and Jianna DeVette of Holland (Caleigh, Jordanna, and Jarrod), Lisa and Mark Werley of Zeeland (Kirsten, Megan, Ben, Madison, and Braden); brother Ben and Becky DeVette of Grahm, NC; sisters Kathy Bremer of Detroit, and Marlene Dykstra of Muskegon; sister-in-law Joyce Lubbers of Tallahassee, FL. Memorial services will be 11 am Friday, December 4 at Christ Memorial Church, 595 Graafschap Road, with the Rev. Dr. Timothy Brown and the Rev. Edwin Mulder officiating. Visiting will be 1-4 and 7-9 pm Thursday, December 3 at the church (Use entrance B or C). Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Holland – Hospice House, and the Holland Rescue Mission. Arrangements are by the Dykstra Life Story Funeral Homes-Mulder Chapel.

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