The Hall of Fame is a triennial event that was established by the Grand Haven Schools Foundation in 2008. Its purpose is “to honor our successful graduates and those who have served our schools, and to provide meaningful role models for our students.”
There are five categories of nomination: Cultural/Performing Arts, Athletic Achievement, Career/Academic Accomplishments, Service to GHAPS and/or Society, and Honorary Award for Service to Grand Haven Area Public Schools.
The GHHS Hall of Fame Advisory Council, made up of eight individuals with expertise in the nomination categories, read all nominations and chose the inductees.
The GHHS Hall of Fame induction dinner will be held on Nov. 9 at the Spring Lake Country Club.
Proceeds from event sponsorships help support the Grand Haven Schools Foundation’s mission to support education initiatives that increase school readiness and promote continued educational success throughout the preschool through fourth grade experience. Contact Hannah at firstname.lastname@example.org or 616-850-5066 to learn more about sponsorship opportunities.
Category I: Cultural/Performing Arts
Michael Bont, Class of 1994
Michael Bont’s natural abilities in the visual and musical arts were realized early. As a student at Grand Haven High School, he excelled at art and even created a large-scale acrylic painting that won an award at Showcase. In his free time, he played in garage bands and developed his passion for music. During his junior year of high school, Michael saw a concert by Fugazi and realized his calling was to perform music.
Using a banjo he received for his 21st birthday, Michael taught himself to play by listening to Jerry Garcia, Earl Scruggs, and others. While attending Western Michigan University, he met like-minded musicians and formed Greensky Bluegrass, an acoustic bluegrass band.
Greensky Bluegrass developed a significant following, performing over 150 live shows each year and releasing eight albums since their formation in 2000. They have performed at national festivals and incredible venues, including the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. They have opened and accompanied prestigious artists, including Natalie MacMaster, Bruce Hornsby and Earl Scruggs, whose albums provided Michaels’s first music lessons.
David Palmer, Class of 1977
Dave Palmer’s love of music, and his passion to share the joy that it brings, led to the creation of the Spread the Music Foundation in 2003. The Foundation’s fund, held at the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, provides financial assistance to individuals and schools for many musical endeavors, including the purchase or renting of musical instruments; instrument or voice lessons; sponsored concert events; and items such as books, instrument cases, and uniforms that are necessary to further the success of West Michigan students interested in music.
A skilled blues musician himself, Dave has been a proponent of music education and the power of music to change lives. In 2006, the “Gift of Music” program was created to give any child the opportunity to receive a starter instrument of their choice. To date, hundreds of children have benefited from this program.
In 2009, Dave began organizing free concerts at Pottawattomie Park in Grand Haven. The concerts expose the community to new artists and types of music while raising support for the Spread the Music Foundation. Dave’s efforts also include numerous fundraising events and the Walk the Beat Festival.
Dave was honored by the local Chamber of Commerce in 2009 as the recipient of the Spirit of Community Award.
Bob Constant*, Class of 1979
Known as “Bobby C.” in school, Robert “Bob” Constant has left a legacy through his athletic career at Grand Haven High School.
In football, Bob was a two-way player, starring as a tailback on offense and a safety on defense. He earned first team all-Lake Michigan Athletic Conference honors in both positions. In basketball, Bob averaged 17 points per game and set individual records for the most assists for a season and a career. Bob’s success in track was equally impressive, setting several sprint records that he still holds today.
Bob’s love of all three sports continued in college at Wisconsin Eau Claire and later, Hope College.
The hard work and commitment that drove his success in sports also helped his career. Bob worked his way from an entry-level position at TruGreen to Corporate Vice President. Later, he helped lead the ARS Company.
Tragically, after a courageous struggle with pancreatic cancer, Bob passed away on Oct. 5, 2016. Like many of his sports records, Bob’s passion for excellence and drive are remembered today.
John Cox, Class of 2002
John Cox’s contribution to Grand Haven High School sports is lasting, including several wrestling records that may be challenging to break.
John was a multi-sport athlete, competing in football, rugby, and wrestling, which was his true passion. His achievements in wrestling are abundant, including being Grand Haven’s first four-time state medalist (all-state), a 52-1 season record, and achieving a state championship in his weight class.
In addition to representing GHHS in wrestling, John was a Michigan Freestyle and Greco-Roman state champion, a member of the Cadet and Junior National Teams, as well as the winner of the prestigious Ironman World Wrestling Championship. At the National High School Coaches Association Senior Championships, he placed third in the country. John’s conduct in preparation for the contest and in competition itself has been proven meritorious time and again, earning him several of the top acknowledgments in the sport.
Upon graduation, John earned a full athletic scholarship to attend The United States Naval Academy, where he earned several honors for athletic abilities, outstanding leadership, work ethic, and competitive spirit. After graduating from the Naval Academy, John was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. Following his years of service, John earned his master’s degree from Boston University and began a career in medical equipment sales. Today, John lives in upstate New York with his wife and three children, where he spends countless hours as a volunteer coach, helping youth realize their wrestling goals.
Samantha (Cook) Iyoha, Class of 2007
Samantha (Cook) Iyoha has been a star player on numerous teams throughout her athletic career, including four years on the Grand Haven High School soccer team.
Samantha’s accomplishments include being a letter winner, plus all-conference, all-region, and all-district every year of high school. A three-time captain of the GHHS team, Samantha defined excellence in her defender-midfielder position.
Her post-high school soccer career continued at Michigan State University, where she played her way into the starting lineup by the second half of her freshman year and started all nineteen games in 2010. In addition, Samantha has been a part of the Grand Valley Soccer Club, where she led the team to a ranking of second in Michigan and thirteenth in the nation.
Samantha’s athletic career also included three varsity letters in volleyball at GHHS and membership in the Super Y League Olympic Development Program Regional Team in 2005 and the Michigan ODB State Team in 2006 and 2007.
Alison Miller, Class of 1996
From the YMCA to the NCAA, sports played a prominent role in Alison Miller’s life. A three-sport athlete (basketball, volleyball, golf) and nine-time varsity letter winner while at Grand Haven High School, Alison was also a star in the classroom, graduating as class Salutatorian in 1996.
As a Lady Buccaneer, Alison was best known for her success on the basketball court. As a starter and team captain, she demonstrated skills that earned her several honors, including OK Red all-conference first team and all-area recognition for three consecutive seasons.
Told she was “too small” to play Big Ten basketball, Alison started her collegiate career at Bowling Green State University. A fortuitous coaching change in Ann Arbor led to the opportunity to transfer to the University of Michigan for her sophomore season, where she went on to be the team’s starting power forward. In her senior season, the Wolverines had the winningest record in the history of the program and earned a top 20 national ranking and NCAA tournament appearance.
Alison spent over a decade working in brand management at General Mills in Minneapolis before moving to Chicago to work for the Chicago Cubs. Today, Alison resides in Chicago and is the Chief Marketing Officer for a private equity firm, Arbor Investments.
Gene VanDongen, Class of 1955
Gene VanDongen’s athletic career spans several sports and many years, beginning with his childhood in Grand Haven.
From learning the basics of sports on the Robbins Field Playground at Elliott and Seventh Streets to playing baseball, basketball, and football for the Buccaneers, Gene had an early and strong start in competitive athletics. Serving as captain of both the GHHS basketball and baseball teams in 1954-1955, Gene also found time to start the Varsity Club and serve as its first president. While in high school, he participated in club baseball teams, including the Continental Motors and Grand Haven Merchants teams.
After high school, Gene was awarded a scholarship to Michigan State University, although he was never able to pursue the opportunity due to an injury playing baseball. Later, Hope College pursued him for their football roster, which resulted in Gene being voted Most Valuable Player and given the position as co-captain of the team. While playing football for Hope College, the MIAA league voted Gene to the all-league first team. He later fulfilled his dream to study at Michigan State University, where he earned his master’s degree, preparing him for a career in education.
After college, Gene pursued teaching for Northview Public Schools, where he started a football program and coached distinguished players like Steve Moerdyk and Gary Hogeboom.
Category III: Career/Academic Accomplishments
Dr. John Angus, Class of 1951
Dr. John Angus’ study of chemical engineering has been as complex and faceted as the field itself. A 1951 graduate of Grand Haven High School, John went on to earn a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan, followed in immediate succession by a master’s degree and a PhD in the same field.
John’s career has been dedicated to the study of natural materials and their conductive properties. His body of work has introduced new and ingenious tools and processes for science and industry as well as consumer electronics and equipment. Currently, John is an Emeritus Professor of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, where he is leading a study on charge transfer between objects of identical composition with varying size and surface roughness.
John’s body of research and published works span nearly five decades. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has received many honorary academic acknowledgments, including an Honorary ScD and AIChE from Ohio University, where he is also a Fellow and member of the Electrochemical Society.
Dr. Richard Baldwin, Class of 1959
Dr. Richard Baldwin has demonstrated his love for education and dedication to children with special needs throughout his illustrious career.
A 1959 graduate of Grand Haven High School, Richard went on to pursue a career in special education. He received both a bachelor’s of arts degree and a master’s of arts degree from Western Michigan University before completing his Doctor of Education degree from Kansas University in 1973.
Richard developed a passion for working in special education — specifically with hearing-impaired children. After many years of teaching young students, and upon completion of his doctoral degree, he went on to become an assistant professor at Kent State University and then at Texas Tech University.
In 1990, Richard was appointed as the Director of Special Education within the Michigan Department of Education, where his decades of teaching guided him to lead integration and inclusion efforts for special needs students. He retired in 1977 and pursued his dream of writing mysteries (21 to date).
During his career, Richard received numerous awards and commendations.
Category IV: Service to GHAPS/Society
Dave Klaassen, Class of 1959
Even in his high school days, Dave Klaassen was serving his classmates through roles as waterboy and equipment manager for the football team. After high school, he became a licensed funeral director for Kammeraad Funeral Homes and later the Vice President of VanZantwick, Bartels, and Kammeraad Funeral Home. In addition to his full-time calling, he served with countless local nonprofits and civic organizations, including leadership positions with the Salvation Army, the Grand Haven Lions Club, the Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Grand Haven City Council, and the U.S. Coast Guard Festival Committee.
Behind the scenes, the list of ways Dave has served Grand Haven and the surrounding communities is too great to number, from capital campaigns to negotiating the purchase of Grand Haven’s first trolley and coaching Tri-Cities youth football or baseball.
Dave’s vision and fingerprints are evident everywhere in this community. In 2005, he furthered his legacy of caring for those dealing with the difficulties of losing a loved one by forming Klaassen Family Funeral Homes with his two sons, Scott and Kurt. In total, Dave has served as a funeral director for the Tri-Cities community for the past 57 years.
Dave’s many honors include recognition as the Jaycee’s “Man of the Year,” and recipient of the Salvation Army Others Award, Grand Haven Eagles No. 925 Outstanding Community Builder Award, and the U.S. Coast Guard Highest Civilian Medal of Honor.
Jack VanSchelven, Class of 1953
Jack VanSchelven’s voice is likely one of the most recognizable in the Grand Haven community. Over his 43 seasons of broadcasting for the Grand Haven Buccaneers sports teams, he has called over 400 football games, officiated high school track and cross country for 25 years, and devoted 33 years to broadcasting basketball games.
His passion for sports and his community began early, when Jack was a starting quarterback for the Buccaneers in 1951 and 1952. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree and later his master’s degree in secondary education, leading him to a career with Orchard View High School. Jack served as a coach for varsity football, junior varsity basketball, and track. He eventually assumed the role of athletic director for the Orchard View school system.
His investment in his community parallels his commitment to sports. Jack has served with several Grand Haven organizations, including the People Center, North Ottawa Council on Aging, Young Life, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He has served on the board of directors for the Tri-Cities Family YMCA and the Muskegon Area Hall of Fame.
In 1999, Jack retired from his career in education, but not from his great loves. He is still a devoted Grand Haven Buccaneer fan and loving husband to his wife, Barb, and caring father to their four children and five grandchildren.
Category V: Honorary Award for Service to GHAPS
Although his high school years were not spent in Grand Haven, Don Anderson’s leadership helped Grand Haven students realize success in their educational journey.
Don served as the vice principal for Grand Haven High School from 1968 to 1994. During his years of service, he was regarded as a fair disciplinarian and counselor to the student body who affectionately called him “Ace.” Even after retiring in 1994, he later returned to serve as interim principal of GHHS.
Outside his administrative role, Don coached track and launched the Grand Haven High School cross country program. In fact, a cross country invitational is held in his honor each year. When he wasn’t coaching, Don also lent his voice to the announcement of Buccaneer football games.
Don has supported his community through serving on the board of the Ottawa County School Employees Credit Union, Lake Trust Credit Union’s advisory board, and as an elder for his church. Furthering his legacy of support for Grand Haven Area Public Schools, Don was a founding member and board member for the Grand Haven Schools Foundation.
For nearly 50 years, Sandy Huber has valiantly served and spoken on behalf of the youth in Grand Haven. As a special education teacher, and later an administrator, Sandy’s career with Grand Haven Area Public Schools spanned over 30 years (1974-2005). While teaching and leading, Sandy demonstrated her passion for life-long learning by earning two master’s degrees, one in special education and one in educational leadership. Known for her tireless commitment and willingness to challenge everyone to do “what was best” for students, her interest in the wellbeing of her students poured over into her free time as a volunteer and community leader.
Sandy’s service to the Grand Haven community has included board and committee roles with the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, the Grand Haven Schools Foundation, C.H.I.L.L., Tri-Cities Kiwanis, Greater Ottawa County United Way, S.C.O.R.E., Extended Grace, League of Women Voters, Lakeshore Environmental Education Program, and many others. Programs improving health, education, transportation, and countless other basic needs for Grand Haven students and residents have been developed and furthered through Sandy’s volunteerism and support. She is recognized by her oft-spoken response, “For you, the world,” a testament to her willingness to give her all to her neighbors and community.