Thressa Kuipers and her late husband, Louis, grew up in Michigan and raised their four sons in Grand Rapids. Although he left a doctoral program at the University of Chicago to enter the business world, Lou always said he wanted to teach when he retired from his career with Keebler Foods Co. In 1964, he seized an opportunity to join the business faculty at Calvin College.
When the life-long Midwesterners visited California in 1967 for their oldest son’s holiday wedding, they planned to see the Rose Parade and visit Westmont in Santa Barbara. Dropping Thressa and their son Phil off at East Beach, Lou drove to campus on a spectacularly beautiful December day. He fell in love with Santa Barbara and the California weather. Wandering into the dean’s office, he asked if there were any openings for economics and business faculty. There was, and he got the job. In September 1968, Louis began a 13-year tenure at Westmont.
“He loved working with students,” Thressa says. “Louis thoroughly enjoyed his time at Westmont.” The Kuipers grew up in Christian homes and believed strongly in the value of Christ-centered education. But one thing concerned Louis: too many students struggled to afford tuition. He told Thressa he wanted to set up a scholarship to help business majors. He died in 1996, and she established the Louis and Thressa Kuipers Endowed Scholarship to honor him in 2005. A provision in her estate will fund the endowment; until then, she makes a gift each year for the scholarship. Thressa has also established two Westmont gift annuities that provide monthly income for her.
Although her sons are scattered, Thressa stays in Santa Barbara. Dave is a stockbroker in Ohio, Wayne is an aerospace engineer in Maryland, Warren ’74 is a physician in Arizona, and Phil, an actuary, lives in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and visits often; they usually spend time relaxing at the beach. She has nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Thressa appreciates her many Westmont friends and stays connected to the college. “They do a wonderful job of involving spouses of retired faculty,” she says.