All In the Family
Bob '72 and Carol DeRuiter
do not have a Troll sitting in their front yard, and there is no truth
to the rumor that their house in Oak Lawn, Illinois, is an extension of
The DeRuiters have six children;
three are alumni of the College (Bob, Jr. '98, Sara '99, Lori '02)-two
of them married Trinity graduates. Two other children are current students
(Kristy '03, and Susan '06,) and, if history is a reliable indication,
the youngest (Joel, a high school senior) is on his way.
"We didn't twist their arms
to get them to attend Trinity," Bob DeRuiter says. "They kind of gravitated
toward the College. They looked at other schools, but Trinity had what
they were looking for."
"They live on campus, but
they can be at home as much as they want," Carol adds. "They get the best
of both worlds."
Bob, a lifelong Oak Lawn
resident, and Carol, who grew up in Lansing, Illinois, spent one year (1971-72)
at the College together as students. Bob graduated with his degree in business
administration, and the coupled married in April 1974. Neither of them
had any interest in leaving the area to go to another college.
"I never thought about going
away to school," Bob says. "I knew that I wanted to go to a local Christian
college, and Trinity was just a few miles away. It was a good fit for me."
It also has been a good fit
for their children. Some of the College's qualities that appealed to the
parents are still prevalent today.
"The Christian Reformed atmosphere
was and is a big plus," Carol says. "The campus is small enough so the
students don't get lost in the shuffle, and they have more opportunities
to get involved in many activities than they might have had at a larger
"When we were in school there,"
Bob continues, "the selection of majors wasn't as broad. They were more
geared toward humanities, but now they have a greater emphasis on specific
career paths, like nursing and accounting. The curriculum offers a more
Their children would echo
that statement. Bob, Jr. and Sara wanted to stay close to home, and Trinity
allowed them to be away while being close enough to go back anytime. People
should not be surprised when they hear that the DeRuiters attended the
same college because they all also went to the same high school. Still.
"We get teased a bit because
we all went to Trinity," says Sara, whose husband is Alex Kropiewnicki
'99, a former business major. "But for my younger siblings, it helps them
be more prepared for what they will go through at the College."
Sara, now an accountant who
lives in Tinley Park, learned that she should have saved some more money
for her college days, and she passed that warning to her sisters. Her older
brother, Bob, Jr., offered them similar practical advice.
"I told all of them to stay
in South Hall because it was the most social dorm," says Bob, Jr., a business
education graduate. "I also encourage them to keep in contact with their
friends. The people they meet can be people they can count on, as I found
when I was there."
Bob, Jr. is the dean of students
at Evangelical Christian Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he
and his wife, Kori (Hoogland '97) live with their sons, Benjamin and Andrew.
Like the other alumni in his family, he has a built-in grapevine to stay
tuned to the latest happenings at the College. That illustrates one of
the strengths that attracted Bob, Jr. to Trinity.
"I knew I was a part of a
community and could take some ownership of how it developed," says Bob,
Jr.. "Students can get to know the professors, and they remember who we
are, especially when so many siblings go to school there. My sisters keep
us informed of the progress the College makes, what professors and staff
have come and gone."
Both Bob and Carol beam about
classmates who helped make their days on campus fulfilling and gratifying.
Some of the events and activities they participated in were instrumental
in building relationships that exist to this day.
"We made some lifelong friends
who have really been dear to us," Carol says. "That's one of the great
things I appreciated about Trinity: the people we met there and how close-knit
Bob now manages Office Assistants,
a temporary office placement agency in Oak Lawn that was formerly owned
by his father. He first joined the company in 1987 and became chief executive
officer in 1988. Carol joins him twice a week as office secretary.
"We have fun working together,"
she says. "Every so often we talk about business at home, and the kids
will remind us to leave work at the office."
Like any other business,
Office Assistants wants to avoid losing money, but people are really its
"The bottom line drives most
businesses," Bob says. "Although it is important, profit isn't the bottom
line for us. We are more pleased that people have opportunities to go to
work, and those temporary placements may lead to permanent employment."
Even more so, people are
prized assets in the DeRuiter family. Trinity reinforced that philosophy
30 years ago when Bob and Carol were students, and they have exemplified
and modeled that mindset to their children.
Maybe 30 years from now,
the third generation of DeRuiters will walk across the stage at graduation.
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