Archived Voice Articles

The campus community remembers James Klaver

Following a long and courageous struggle with leukemia, James Klaver ('02) passed away on June 9, 2003.

James was first diagnosed with leukemia in April of 1999, shortly after he began studies at Dordt College. He received, his family says, "a new lease on life" through a stem cell transplant from Tricia, his younger sister. This April, however, doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota informed James and his family that the leukemia had returned in a different form, Acute Lymphomic Leukemia (ALL). The doctors asked James to begin treatment immediately, but instead James took a day to eat at some of his favorite restaurants and spend time with his family and Laura Groen, his girlfriend.

"I feel like I am admitting myself into prison," said James as he made his way toward the hospital. Despite this bleak outlook, however, he remained strong and courageous during his entire hospital stay. Friends and family alike say that his strength and humor were a testimony to everyone who stepped inside his hospital room. Music was always in the air, games being played with friends and hospital staff, and James would always make sure that his visitors took the time to notice the sunrises and sunsets just outside the window.

In May, James graduated from Dordt College. His physical condition much altered in the past month, James climbed the stairs to the stage of the B.J. Haan Auditorium and walked unassisted, stumbling only a few times, to receive his diploma.

After three weeks at home, James returned to the hospital for the second round of treatment. This time, however, the leukemia was too strong and James's body too tired. He went to be with the Lord on June 9, 2003.

James's family, his friends, and the entire Dordt College community will remember James not for the way he died, but for the way he lived. Those who knew him well remember his kindness, his sense of humor, and his love for life. Those who didn't know him as well remember him as a very visible example of servant-leadership as he participated in many Dordt plays, played in the band Wister Dean, and served as a counselor at Camp Manitoqua in Illinois. Soli Deo Gloria! To God alone be all the glory for the way James lived and the things he accomplished!

He is survived by his parents; two sisters, Leanne and Tricia and one brother, Dan, all of LeMars; a special friend, Laura Groen of Minneapolis, MN; maternal grandparents Albertus and Patricia Ritzema of Fulton, IL; paternal grandmother Mary Klaver of Sanborn, IA; numerous uncles and aunts and cousins.