Obituary for Douglas Schuurman

Douglas Schuurman, age 64 of Northfield, passed away at home with his wife and family by his side, on Saturday evening, February 15, 2020. Doug was born on May 23, 1955, in Paterson, NJ and lived most of his early life in Midland Park, NJ. He attended Eastern Christian Schools from kindergarten through high school. Doug and Kathy met in kindergarten and were friends throughout the years. They married on August 20, 1975 in Wyckoff, NJ and moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan so Doug could attend Calvin College, and later Calvin Theological Seminary. For thirty-four years, Schuurman was a distinguished […]

show more

Douglas Schuurman, age 64 of Northfield, passed away at home with his wife and family by his side, on Saturday evening, February 15, 2020.

Doug was born on May 23, 1955, in Paterson, NJ and lived most of his early life in Midland Park, NJ. He attended Eastern Christian Schools from kindergarten through high school. Doug and Kathy met in kindergarten and were friends throughout the years. They married on August 20, 1975 in Wyckoff, NJ and moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan so Doug could attend Calvin College, and later Calvin Theological Seminary.

For thirty-four years, Schuurman was a distinguished teacher and scholar in the Religion Department at St. Olaf College. He received a B.A. in Philosophy at Calvin College, an M.Div at Calvin Seminary and Ph.D. in Theology and Ethics from the University of Chicago Divinity School. He joined the Religion Department at St. Olaf College in 1986 after teaching at Calvin College. At St. Olaf, he quickly became a mainstay in the teaching of courses in theology and ethics. His courses were wide-ranging: Biblical theology and history, Christian theology and topics in Christian ethics such as the ethics of Luther, love and justice, Christian hope, postmodernism, the ethics of vocation and liberation theology. Three of the courses especially became pillars of departmental offerings: The Bible and Ethics, Christian Theology and the Moral Life, and Love, Justice and Social Relations. He also taught in a number of interdisciplinary programs, including the Great Conversation and Science Conversation programs. He was loved by students, who were impressed by his intellectual substance and breadth and found endearing his friendly, kindly and compassionate manner.

Schuurman was also a leader in the development of three distinctive programs at the college. First, with Ed Langerak he developed the Ethical Issues and Normative Perspectives program, including leading annual workshops to prepare professors in other disciplines to teach the required general education ethics course. Second, Schuurman helped develop the Science Conversation program, served as founding director of the program, and taught in the program for a number of years. Third, he was a consultant to the Lilly grant that brought major funding to the college to launch a new program on Vocation. In 2003-04 he was the college’s Lilly Vocational Scholar. In all of these activities, Schuurman was widely appreciated by St Olaf faculty and staff as a vibrant intellect, insightful leader and congenial, supportive colleague.

Schuurman’s early scholarship focused on the theology of Brunner and Moltmann, culminating in his publication of Creation, Eschaton and Ethics (1991). In 1993 he co-authored an important book on gender and theology, After Eden. Facing the Challenge of Gender Reconciliation. Most significant was his scholarly work on the theme of vocation. In 2004 he published Vocation: Discerning Our Callings in Life. This book continues to have an important impact on public discussions of vocation in churches and colleges around the country. More generally, Schuurman lectured on the theme of vocation in a variety of settings, including several sets of lectures in South Africa. In recent years he expanded his work on vocation to consider contributions to the theme by other religious traditions and secular worldviews. With Kathleen Cahalan, Schuurman produced the book Calling in Today’s World: Voices from Eight Faith Perspectives (2016). His work marked him as one of the country’s preeminent Christian theologians reflecting on the meaning and possibility of vocation in the modern world.

Doug loved having long conversations with his children especially on holidays and on their annual family vacations; hiking on the north shore of Lake Superior; fishing in Canada and locally; and reading science fiction and fantasy novels.

A visitation will be held from 2:00PM – 5:00PM on Saturday, February 22, 2020, at Kings’ Room in Buntrock Commons on the campus of St. Olaf College. A celebration of Doug’s life will be held at 11:00AM, on Saturday, June 27, 2020, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Northfield.

Doug is survived by his wife, Kathy; his daughters, Sarah Schuurman of Alexandria, Virginia, Krista (Paul) Marino of Falcon Heights, Laura (Ed) Rasmussen of Sydney, Australia; his grandson, Noah Clymer; two brothers, Henry of Edmonton, Alberta, Don (Shelley) of Grand Rapids, Michigan; two sisters, Carol (Gary) Ferencheck of Lansing, Michigan, Diane (Al) Nyland of Bradenton, Florida; two sisters-in-law, Beverly (Bill) Jeczalik of The Villages, Florida, Jane (Bob) Wiegers of Georgetown, Kentucky; nieces, nephews, other relatives and a host of friends. He was preceded in death by his parents Henry and Hester Schuurman.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to St. John’s Lutheran Church, Northfield; Northfield Community Action Center; St. Olaf College; or a charity of your choice.

Arrangements are with the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home. www.northfieldfuneral.com

show less


Funeral

June 27, 2020 - 11:00 AM


Visitation One Hour Before Service
St. John’s Lutheran Church
500 3rd St W Northfield, 55057 Get Directions

Visitation

February 22, 2020 - 2:00 PM - 5:00PM

Kings' Room - St. Olaf College
, Get Directions

10 Comments

  1. Bob Thacker

    I didn’t know Doug as a scholar, I knew him as a neighbor. And he was the true embodiment of a good neighbor. He was always kind and caring and a consummate gentleman. He embodied grace and compassion. He had a quiet strength. I felt better knowing that Doug lived next door. I will miss him deeply, and I grieve for his lovely wife and family.

    Reply
  2. Debra Steenstra

    Kathy- Remembering Doug lead the prayer meetings on Birch Street,MP,NJ even then with leadership and insight. Dan and I express our deepest sympathies on your loss. May the arms of our Savior give you all strength and peace during this season of grief. Deb (Woudenberg) Steenstra

    Reply
  3. Karen (Etterbeek) VanderHorn

    Deepest sympathies Kathy and family. Always had great memories of Doug throughout the school years. God’s Grace will always be at your side.

    Reply
    • Donna Klopman Faber

      Kathy,
      My sincere sympathy to you and your family. Doug and I grew up next door to each other on Birch Street. We got into much mischief together up until the age of 6…many years ago. I will never forget him.
      Prayers for peace and comfort.

      Reply
  4. Laura De Vries

    Kathy,
    So sorry to hear of Dougs passing. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
    Sincerely,
    Laura DeVries

    Reply
  5. Dennis E. Tamburello

    To Kathy and all the Schuurman family,

    I send you my deepest sympathy as you mourn the loss of Douglas. I knew Doug from being a member of the Reformed-Catholic Dialogue.

    He is also a fellow U of Chicago graduate.

    May you find peace and consolation in each other and in the love of God.

    Sincerely,

    Friar Dennis Tamburello
    Siena College

    Reply
  6. Larry Spalink

    Ruth and I send our sincere sympathy. May the Lord comfort you all at this sad time!

    Reply
  7. Dale Cooper

    I cherish the memory of Doug during his student days at Reformed Bible College. A consummate Christian gentleman and scholar, he was a rich gift to his fellow students and me. I pause to give our Lord thanks for him, and pray God’s blessing upon his family.

    Dale Cooper

    Reply
  8. Debbie Schuurman Williams

    I remember Doug in school. There were always 3 Schuurmans in our class. Praying for comfort for his family. 💕

    Reply
  9. Sheri Eichhorn

    I got to know Doug through Kathy. She and I worked together in the Alumni Office at St. Olaf. Each Christmas, Kathy and Doug would host our office Christmas party at their home. He was always so gracious as this crazy bunch of chattering people descended upon his house. He was a wonderful conversationalist, and we had such a wonderful time at those parties. I will miss him at the next Christmas party–his wit and his wealth of information about so many topics. He will be sorely missed. I extend my deepest sympathy to Kathy and all the girls and their spouses, and, of course, to Noah.

    My hope is that your memories will keep him close. We all join with you as you celebrate his life, and wish him well on his journey home.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shares
Share This

Share this obituary