Eternal hope — that’s the perspective of Robert “Bob” De Smidt ’61, a retired senior training manager for the Brady Company, who lives in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin.
“When you’re blessed — and I have been blessed in so many ways in my life — I have to bless others,” De Smidt says.
De Smidt has served Central for decades. It began during his college days when he met Doris Veldhorst De Smidt ’64. The couple has returned to Pella often. He served on reunion committees and the National Advisory Council from 2010 to 2018. In 2009, De Smidt was awarded the Alumni Stewardship, Service and Leadership Award.
De Smidt helped the men’s wrestling team in a bind in 2008. The team had a meet in Milwaukee and De Smidt thought it would be great to support the team while in Wisconsin. During the meet, Curtis Hobbs ’11 was injured and needed to get to an emergency room but wrestling coach Eric Van Kley, now director of athletics and head menʼs wrestling coach, had to stay with the team. De Smidt offered to take Hobbs to the emergency room. The “Central Bulletin” recounts the event in the Spring 2009 issue and begins with: “Never underestimate the kindness of a Central alum.”
De Smidt says heʼs just a Central grad with a heart to help when given the opportunity. He also has maintained a connection with Hobbs since then.
Time and Treasures
The De Smidts’ generosity to Central also includes donating over the years.
“One of my biggest and most enjoyable contributions honored Cheri Trout Doane ’98,” De Smidt says. ‟I just wanted to support her work. I loved what she was doing with a mission of serving others. Service Day last fall was impressive — 700-plus Central students and employees volunteered to help other people. That’s cool. It’s what I have been trying to do all my life. When I can help someone unconditionally, it does my heart so much good.”
Prison ministries provide De Smidt with an outlet for sharing his love and faith. More than 11 years ago, he began working with a juvenile prison ministry program — building relationships, offering hope and sharing his faith. He also is involved in Words of Hope, a Reformed Church in America program, that builds radio stations in countries with limited access — or no access — to God’s Word.
“I am grateful for every day I can go into the jail,” De Smidt says. ‟I walked down those dark concrete and steel halls. The doors make a terrible sound when they close around these kids.”
He tries to remain humble in his ministry. “It’s not about me,” De Smidt says. “We’re proud of the juvenile jail ministry program, but we’re not going to let pride get in the way of the work we have to do yet. Everybody needs to know that they are loved — that’s the primary goal.
“I’m humbled to be able to work with prison ministries and Words of Hope,” De Smidt says. “My late wife and I feel it’s important to be a blessing to others.”