A Tribute To Peter Van Boven Jr.

A tribute is a way to thank and honor someone. My dad, Peter John Van Boven Jr., was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan on May 19, 1928. His parents came to Ann Arbor from other parts of Michigan to attend the U of M. After Dad completed his studies at the U of M and his military service in the Air Force Reserve, he had a blind date with that woman who became my mother, Carolyn Snyder, a student at the U of M.

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He was instantly smitten. It took Mom a bit longer to realize it was right to spend the next 50 years married to him, and they married on 9/11/1954, decades before 9/11 became infamous. They raised a family in Ann Arbor, of which I am the middle child. Dad ran Van Boven Inc., A fine men’s clothing store just off campus.

I began working for him when I was eight years old. Yes, I manned the front of the store during sales. My job was to keep an eye out for “five-finger discounts.” If anyone looked tempted to take something without paying, I learned to ask if they needed help. A warm body keeps most people honest.

From dad I learned the values of honesty, hard work, responsibility and the beginnings of leadership development. As a member of the owning family, I received few if any privileges. The only one I remember was dad taking me to lunch most of the days I worked with him. That was over the span of my 14 years of seasonal employment. He taught me to set the example, even if I was a child. One winter I literally walked over two miles to work in a blizzard because the roads were unpassible and dad & I lived the closest to the store of all the employees. We had to open.

Dad was athletic, fun-loving and adventurous. (He and the teams he played on won many awards.) All of those are characteristics he passed on to me. When my years of university were coming to an end, I let my parents know that I felt I should go to Africa to be a teacher/missionary, Dad gave me a blessing to go follow my adventures while I was young and able, then he and mom came to visit me in Nigeria where I spent my first two and a half years in Africa. On the way to the airport for them to leave the continent, we had a flat tire. Dad taught me as a teen how to change a tire, but he was out in the 110 degree Fahrenheit heat serving a van full of my friends who had come for the ride.

When he was 56 he was playing water basketball over lunch when he was hit hard in the neck. A few days later he had a massive stroke from a clot that formed in his artery and lodged in his brain. For the next twenty years he lived with dignity in spite of little to no ability to talk. He could function remarkably well considering. When he was finally freed of his earthly shell he had lived to see my kids into high school. He died less than a month before his 50th wedding anniversary. I launch this very small and terribly incomplete tribute to this great guy on the anniversary of his going to glory.

I am truly grateful you already heard this from me before you passed, but here a few more words of tribute.

Thanks dad for being the role model you hoped I would become. Thanks for loving mom all those years and for being faithful! I am grateful to God for placing me with you and mom. How happy I am that you are now more whole than ever! I do not anticipate joining you for a while, but I know you are in the great cloud of witnesses cheering me and others on.

Do you have someone you want to give a tribute to? Even if you do not or cannot give it to them, you can write it for yourself and Abba. Or, take some minutes to think and pray about it.

Andrea (Madden) Van Boven : I like to think I am a radical lover of Jesus, but I live in a house and pay bills and look like I fit in with respectable society, like most people. What goes on in my head and heart are hopefully the things that betray the look of “normal” that comes at first glance. I hope those things inside of me seep out to actions as well as words of hope and encouragement. I pray that these in turn will lead others to know the loving creator who knows us so intimately that he has a number for every hair on every head.

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