Dordt College News

Long-time music professor Dale Grotenhuis dies

August 21, 2012

Dale Grotenhuis, professor of music emeritus, passed away on August 17, 2012, but his place in Dordt College history lives on.

Dale GrotenhuisJack Grotenhuis, as he was known by many, came to Dordt College in 1959 to begin the music program.

His choirs quickly became known for excellence. Under his direction, the Dordt College concert choir participated in annual tours that took members throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, building respect among its audiences not only for the choir but also for the college it represented. 

Grotenhuis contributed much to the growth of the college in its early years. In addition to building a strong choir, he and his wife, Eleanor, along with English Professor Peter De Boer and his wife Joy, travelled regularly to churches in Midwestern states to help generate interest in and support for the new college. They gave 80 concerts in two years, and support grew. After the choir traveled to Montana and Washington in 1961, churches in California asked the board to send the choir to California as well.

“Mr. G’s choirs brought quality, excellent singing, and deep spiritual emotion to these concerts, and I believe these tours helped set the groundwork for Dordt’s growth in the ’70s and ’80s,” says former choir member Mark Vogelzang (‘79), now president and CEO of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

Grotenhuis is the most published of Dordt’s faculty. Many of his more than 300 pieces have become classics, published and sold by companies such as Lorenz Music, Shawnee Press, Adoro, and others.

Grotenhuis began composing already in high school, writing a march for his high school band that was played at graduation. He composed the Calvin College Alma Mater as a student and the Dordt College Alma Mater after he came to Dordt. He conducted the 2nd Army Band Male Chorus and was chief music arranger for the 2nd Army Band while in the armed services. He conducted clinics, festivals, and All-State choirs in several states, and he led workshops and clinics at major universities. In 1985, he received an Outstanding Educator of America award and the Iowa Choral Conductors Association’s McCowan Award for “outstanding contribution to choral music in Iowa.”

Grotenhuis also served his church. He was an active member of the Christian Reformed Church’s “grey” Psalter Hymnal committee. The list of credits at the back of the hymnal shows his commitment to including songs that were arranged well and written in a singer-friendly key.

Grotenhuis demanded hard work and excellence from his students. Former Dordt choir members say that the tunes they sang still bounce around in their heads as they sweep out the garage, sit at their desks, or celebrate Christmas. Many former alumni share the feelings of John Rozeboom (’62) who wrote when Grotenhuis retired in 1994: “Most things of worth, of beauty, come with a price tag: hard work, significant time, prayer, sacrifice, and a dose of anxiety. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”


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