VAN ZANDT, JAMES L.
12/30/1937 - 5/26/2019
James was the son of Earl J. and Grace Van Zandt, who both preceded him in death. He and his twin sister, G. Margaret Hollar (John) were the only children of Earl and Grace Van Zandt. He was married to Eleanor J. McClurkin (Berman) for more than 30 years. James has three children who survive: Stacie Lynn Van Zandt, Jamie S. Littlefield (Zachary), Chad Earl Van Zandt (Jamie Jo). He has four grandchildren who survive him: Sasha Hope Houseman (Brandon), Nathaniel Robert Littlefield, Emily Grace Littlefield, and Lily Lake Van Zandt. He is also survived by one great-grandchild, Aiden Gage Houseman.
James was a graduate of Comstock High School in Comstock, Michigan. He received a Bachelor's degree from Kalamazoo College, as well as a Master's degree from Western Michigan University.
James began his teaching, coaching and administrative career with the Galesburg-Augusta school system in 1960. After 30 years at Galesburg-Augusta, he completed his administrative career with the Climax-Scotts school system, as high school principal, in 1992.
After retiring, James began his "second career", which consisted of substitute teaching K-12, and coaching women's tennis at Kalamazoo College in the spring, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College in the fall.
The women's tennis team at Kalamazoo College was a NCAA national level program. The players took James with them to Hilton Head, South Carolina for spring training, to the University of Wisconsin for a team qualifying tournament for the NCAA nationals and finally, on two occasions, to the Division III Nationals.
Kalamazoo Valley Community College was a MCCAA Community College State level program. Each year, a Midwest Regional tournament was held to qualify two teams for the NJCAA Nationals. The teams qualified 11 of the 17 years that James was the coach.
As an avid lover of all sports, James often participated successfully in various sports-related activities throughout his life. Although tennis was his main athletic endeavor throughout high school and college, James and Cliff Strong, an outstanding tennis player at Kalamazoo Central High School and Western Michigan University, won the State of Michigan Men's Doubles Bowling Championship in 1961. Once he graduated from college, and began teaching for the Galesburg-Augusta school system, James began his principal coaching assignment at G-A as the tennis coach, where his teams won six state championships and achieved second place four times. This lasted for eleven years, until he became an administrator and could no longer coach tennis. Because James enjoyed coaching, he was allowed to volunteer to coach football at G-A for 25 years as the defensive backfield football coach. During his years coaching football, he helped them achieve three state championships.
In the 1960s, there was an inter-city tennis tournament that took place during several years. The players primarily consisted of both boys and girls from Holland, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Muskegon. Occasionally, Ludington and Sturgis players would also join the tournament. Holland perennially won this tournament, but in 1967,, Kalamazoo came in second place. The following two years, Kalamazoo won the tournament. This was truly a fantastic experience for all of the players and their coach, as they celebrated the memories of travelling throughout the state in a Checker Motors Aero-bus.
James was inducted into five Halls of Fame: Galesburg-Augusta High School, Comstock High School, the Kalamazoo Valley Athletic Association, the Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Association, and the National Junior College Athletic Association Women's Tennis. He also received a National Tennis Award from the Boys 16-18 National Championships held annually at Kalamazoo College, where he served in a variety of capacities for over 60 years, including as: a linesman, Umpire, trainer of ball-runners, concession stand manager, feed-in consolations director, and site preparation and maintenance manager.
James was active in the affairs of the community, and a loyal and supportive alumnus of both Western Michigan University, and especially, Kalamazoo College. He was also very involved with the United States Tennis Association, and especially the USTA Junior Tennis Programs.
Lastly, and most importantly, he was a wonderful son, brother, uncle, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, and friend.
In accordance with his wishes, he has been cremated. A memorial service will be held 2pm Saturday, June 1st, in Stetson Chapel on the campus of Kalamazoo College, where the family will receive guests beginning at 1pm. Memorial donations in James' name may be directed to the Kalamazoo College Men's or Women's Tennis Team at www.kzoo.edu/onlinegiving or to the Galesburg-Augusta Community Schools Foundation at www.g-aschools.org/domain/157. Arrangements entrusted to Langeland Family Funeral Homes, Burial & Cremation Services, 622 S Burdick St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007. To view James' personalized guestbook, please visit https://www.langelands.com.
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