Colin Hoekema 1982-2014

Colin May 2013

Colin Charles Hoekema, of Newburgh, died at home on Saturday, March 15, 2014, following a long struggle with addiction. Born November 5, 1982, he was 31.

He is survived by his father Jim Hoekema of Newburgh; his mother Laura Vellenga and sister Kristin Zandstra, both of Seattle; his second mother Wendy Taylor of Annapolis; and his brother Sanford Worth and sister Emma Worth, both of Phoenix, as well as numerous uncles, aunts, and cousins.

Born in Salt Lake City, he grew up in Frederick and Bethesda, Maryland, where he went to elementary and middle schools. He lived for a year in Brussels at age 10 and for two years after that in the UK, where he attended Ashdown House, a boarding school in East Sussex. He was hilarious as the porter in the school’s production of ‘Macbeth.’ With his family, Colin traveled to Italy, Greece, Germany, France and Holland (birthplace of his grandfather); He sailed past everyone on the ski slopes in Austria. Later, on his own, he enjoyed a canal trip in France and a visit to Hong Kong with a friend from his English school days.

Returning first to Maryland, he moved to Newburgh with his family in 1998. He attended Newburgh Free Academy and earned a GED in 2001. He took classes at Mount Saint Mary College and SUNY Orange. Over the years he worked at a variety of jobs, including Advance Auto Parts in Newburgh, Rochester Clothing in Highland Mills, Precision Technology in Saugerties, and Lowe's in Poughkeepsie.

Colin was bright, observant, and articulate. In school he was often an early favorite with teachers, due to his quick comprehension, ability to see connections, and skill in explaining concepts, but later in the semester – not so much, as he struggled with organizing his thoughts and applying the discipline required for papers and tests. He started rowing in Maryland and joined the NFA crew team – on the ergometer, he ranked 16th worldwide for his age. He also wrote poetry, crafted beautiful ceramics, learned to weld, and loved photography. He was always interested in alternative spiritual pathways, especially Buddhism.

Colin never found his place in the world, but he had a positive effect on many people. At 6'9" he was hard to miss – a gentle giant, or as one friend put it, a sheep in wolf's clothing. He had a natural empathy for others and, without intending it, gravitated toward leadership in jobs, among friends, and in the recovery communities he joined. He considered himself shy and ill at ease in society, yet he had “the gift of gab” (as he put it) and made many friends who stayed loyal throughout his life. All those who knew him found Colin to be caring, honest, and sympathetic - a gentle soul.

A memorial service [was] held Saturday April 5, 6pm, 2014, at St. George's Episcopal Church, 105 Grand Street, Newburgh, NY 12550. Anyone wishing to commemorate Colin is encouraged to donate to St. Christopher's Inn at Graymoor, where he prospered in recovery in 2012-13.

That was the obituary I wrote for the local papers. The memorial service was extraordinary: so many friends came, but also dozens of Colin's friends, who cherished him deeply.


Colin birth announce pic 1982 Jim & Colin 1983

Colin birth announcement picture, with Laura, Jim & Kristin, Nov 1982.

Jim & Colin 1983.

Jim & Colin 1984 Colin & Laura 1984

Colin & Jim, 1984.

Colin & Laura, 1984.

Colin in snow Utah 1985 Colin Kindergarten Fall 88

In the snow in Salt Lake City, 1985 (age 3).

Kindergarten picture, Frederick MD, Fall 1988.

Colin Aug 1989 Colin 1991 First Grade

On vacation, August 1989, in Chincoteague, Virginia.

School picture, 2nd grade, Frederick, 1991.

Colin LA Feb 90 Colin Brussels 1993

Los Angeles, Feb 1990.

School picture at the International School of Brussels, 1993.

Jim & Colin Ashdown 1995 Ashdown Sports Day 1995

"Sports Day" at Colin's school, Ashdown House, East Sussex, June 1995.

Colin Easter 1997 Colin 2000

Back in Bethesda, Easter of 1997.

Colin at 17, in the Spring of 2000, at home in Balmville.

2000 prom 2003 Colin at 21

All dressed up for the prom, in the back yard in Balmville, April 2000.

Colin on his 21st birthday, November 2003 (at a casino in Connecticut).

Jim, Colin on Jim's birthday 2005 Colin, Seattle, May 2006

Jim & Colin on Jim's birthday in 2005.

In Seattle in 2006 (for the funeral of Jack Slater).

Colin, 2007 Colin on 27th birthday, 2009

July 2007.

27th birthday, Nov 2009.

Colin 29th birthday, 2011 August 2012

29th birthday, Nov 2011.

August 2012.

Colin April 2013 Colin's urn March 2014

April 2013.

Colin's urn, March 2014.