Inspired by Gordon

Posted in Blog on December 15, 2017


Here is a photo from today of a celebration of 30 years of the Riverview Group. Toasting Gordon VanWylen, who is seated in a wheelchair, is one of the Lakeshore Advantage founders and original board members Jack Marquis.  
 
Gordon celebrates his 98-birthday next month.  He was a former navy submarine captain, head of U-M Engineering School, wrote a book on Thermodynamics in 1958 that is still published today and was the President of Hope College. 
 
After he retired, he decided to start Riverview Group.  This is a loose coalition of business and community leaders joining together to anonymously ensure the Holland area community continues to thrive.  This group is behind the snow melt system, rebuilding the bridge over River Avenue when MDOT was going to close it for a year and pretty much all of the new development in the downtown.  Gordon worked for no salary on behalf of Riverview for about 20 years until he was 90 years old.  
 
Gordon is still so very sharp. He made incredibly moving remarks today which I wish I would have taped.  I do remember the first thing he said which was a Harry Truman quote, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”  He then proceeded to share that the Riverview Group continued to live by the Truman quote over the last 30 years.
 
I couldn’t be more inspired by one incredible man. When times get tough or I need a push forward, I am going to think of Gordon and those inspiring remarks.  He is one of many incredible leaders that makes our community so special and unique.   
 
Let’s all not worry about who gets the credit. Continue to move our community forward and work to be like Gordon.
- Jennifer Owens