“Central opened my whole world.”
– Ed Van Hemert ’70
Hometown: Ed – Pella, Iowa; Martha – Richfield, Minnesota
Major: Ed – Music; Martha – Elementary Education
Student Activities: Ed – Band, Choir; Martha – Choir and Campus Ministries
Advanced Degree: Ed – M.A, Elementary Education, University of Northern Iowa
Career: Ed – Music Teacher; Martha – Kindergarten and Elementary Education Teacher
Current Location: Waverly, Iowa
Service to Central: Central Cornerstone Society and Central Alumni Mentor Program
Ed Van Hemert ’70 smiles when he thinks about his wife teaching kindergarten all those years.
“How she could spend 30 minutes getting a 10-minute activity ready, I’ll never understand,” he says. “But, she did.”
Martha Friskey Van Hemert ’72 made a career as a teacher, teaching primarily kindergarten, first and second grades in the Cedar Falls and briefly Waverly-Shell Rock school systems.
Ed, too, was a teacher, spending the majority of his career teaching music to elementary and middle school students in Waverly-Shell Rock. His first two years were in Prairie City teaching K-12 music.
The couple got its start in education at Central College, which certainly holds a special place in their hearts.
It’s where they met, graduated and sent their children to college. Ann Van Hemert Allen graduated in 2000; Carrie Van Hemert graduated in 1998.
“Central opened my whole world,” says Ed, who grew up in Pella. “I’ve told everyone that. It just opened a whole world to be able to think differently if you want to. I’ve always been grateful of Central that it did offer me the opportunity to expand my world.”
Martha Van Hemert says that Central trait spans generations.
“The girls have found the same thing as they’ve gone out into the working world,” she says. “They say that they just feel like their college education at Central enriched their life. It just helped them see things in a lot of different ways.”
As fond as the Van Hemerts are of Central, perhaps only one thing can compare. That is education.
“It took us until we were retired to realize how important being an educator was,” Ed says. “We always liked it and we knew it was a great career. We couldn’t see ourselves doing anything else even though we both had other opportunities.”
Lifelong educators, the couple decided in 2019 to do something to help both passions. They endowed a scholarship at Central that goes to a student who has declared or is intending to declare a major in education.
The Van Hemerts had an impact on thousands of students during their many years of teaching. This was their way of giving back and helping others forever.
“We both loved our careers in teaching. I mean, we really did,” Martha says. “Obviously, we got those started at Central. As we thought about giving a larger gift, we wanted to do something special that would last. That’s when we started thinking about a scholarship of some kind.”
Ed acknowledges the need for scholarships, recognizing neither he, his wife nor children could have attended Central without the generous support from others.
“I never thought we would be able to give a scholarship,” Ed says. “We just felt we should do it because it just felt right. And that’s how most things go with Central. You kind of know when you need to do this, and it works out for everyone.”
The Van Hemerts get back to campus as often as they can, including for events like the Heritage Luncheon and Homecoming. When they do, they get the feeling they never left.
“It feels good,” Martha says. “You just feel right at home again. It just feels good.”
And to the Van Hemerts, so does giving back.