Obituary: James Emerson Van Hoven, 78, of Ludington

August 5, 2020

James VanHoven

Obituary: James Emerson Van Hoven, 78, of Ludington

James Emerson Van Hoven, 78, of Ludington, formerly of Big Rapids, passed away Monday, August 3, 2020 at his home surrounded by his family. He was born April 3, 1942 in Zeeland, Mich. to Jacob and Emma (Sprik) Van Hoven. He married Susan Speer on December 21, 1968 at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Ludington.

Jim graduated from Zeeland High School in 1959 and went on to attend Western Michigan University, Central Michigan University where he received his master’s in education, and Michigan State University where he obtained a specialist in education counseling degree.  For over 30 years, Jim dedicated his life to education. He enjoyed his career working with kids and being a child advocate. Jim held positions in the Big Rapids Public School District as a teacher, guidance counselor, assistant principal, and principal. He also loved coaching baseball and basketball. Mentoring youth brought him joy every day. 

Jim was able to also fulfill this passion through his relationships with friends and family in church and out in the community. When he had spare time, Jim loved the outdoors. Spending time hunting, fishing, camping, and enjoying “mother nature” brought him so much joy.

Jim will be greatly missed by his wife, Susan Van Hoven; his son, Scott (Joy) Van Hoven of Ludington; his grandchildren, Jordan (Michaela Burman) Oehrli and Aliana Van Hoven; his great grandchildren, Jameson, Westin, and Orion; his brother, Dale (Shirley) Van Hoven; his sisters-in-law, Virginia Van Hoven and Nancy Thomas; his brother-in-law, Bob Speer; his nieces and nephews, Pam (Jim) Courtright, Jeff Speer, Leilani Speer, Terri Sue Muller, and Steve Thomas.

Besides his parents, Jim was preceded in death by his brother, John Van Hoven and his in-laws, Albert and Ellen Speer.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 2 p.m. outside at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Riverton Township. You are encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing.

To reduce the number of guests, the church will be livestreaming the service on their Facebook page at For those choosing to watch the live stream, please feel free to call the funeral home to have your name added to the guest book.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to the Salvation Army, St. Paul United Methodist Church, or Hospice of Michigan.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Oak Grove Funeral Home of Ludington,

Eats & Drinks

Eats & Drinks