Meet a Friend
Harry and Barb ’66 (Joosse) Kampenga were two of the first 32 students to live on Trinity’s campus back in 1964. Harry and Barb met at the beginning-of-the-year retreat at Lake Geneva; Barb later learned that Harry informed his roommate, “That’s the girl I’m going to marry someday!” upon meeting her. They were married a year later and have just celebrated 46 years together.
Harry Kampenga was born on a 100-acre farm in DeMotte, Indiana, and grew up to appreciate a life of simplicity because of the lessons instilled by his hard-working, God-fearing parents. “They taught me the values they learned during the Great Depression and how the Lord was with his people during the worst of times,” said Harry. “We lived without electricity, running water, phone, or any of the things we now seem to need so badly.” Harry didn’t originally plan to attend Trinity. His cousin, whom Harry helped with a Chicago-area egg route, knew of Trinity and took Harry to visit the campus. “As they say, the rest is history!” said Barb.
Barb’s parents instilled similar values in her as she grew up in Wisconsin, first in the Oostberg/Sheboygan area and later in Racine. Her father was a plumber and general handyman who worked hard and eagerly helped others, and her mother stayed home to care for Barb and her brother and was actively involved in the church and Christian school.
Barb’s faith was clarified when she moved from her tiny Christian grade school (four classes in one room!) to a public high school with 700 students in her class alone. The rough atmosphere and the harassment Barb suffered for her beliefs caused Barb to think about what she believed and why. She determined before entering Trinity that she wanted to publicly profess her faith, and she was blessed to find roommates and friends at Trinity who were equally eager to deepen their faith, meeting several times each week for Bible studies.
Harry and Barb agreed early on in their relationship to live simply and avoid debt. Harry worked for S.C. Johnson for 38 years before retiring, and he took on side jobs to boost their income so that Barb could stay home with their five children (4 daughters and a son, born after the loss of their first child, a premature baby boy). “True to our premarital plan, we were able to send the five children God blessed us with to Christian schools, kindergarten through college,” reported Harry. “True to God’s promises, our shoes did not wear out, our clothes did not tear. I have no idea how we afforded to follow our plan. Thank heavens, God’s calculator works differently than man’s.”
Harry and Barb’s daughter Cherish followed in her parents’ footsteps in more ways than one. Not only did she decide to attend Trinity, earning a degree in nursing, but she also met her spouse in these hallowed halls. Cherish and Steve Martin were married the year after their 2004 graduation.
When Barb’s father passed away in 1997, nine years after the death of Barb’s mother, the Kampengas received a moderate inheritance. “We thought long and hard to decide how we could glorify God with this unearned money,” said Harry. In the end, they decided to fund scholarships at Calvin College and at Trinity, colleges their children attended. At Trinity, the Kampengas funded a nursing scholarship bearing their name. “The reason we established this scholarship was because of the memories we had of losing sleep, wondering where our tuition check was coming from,” said Harry. “We want to help some family who shares our commitments sleep a little better.” Barb added, “We feel that this scholarship is one way that God could use us to encourage other parents and their children to choose Christian education. It is the best investment we’ve ever made for our children.”
As their children grew, Harry was immersed in serving five terms as a Racine (Wisconsin) Christian School board member, helping with expansions to the Christian school, and assisting those in need, while Barb became involved in her children’s school activities and in GEMS. Today they continue to enjoy church-related projects such as building sets for Sunday School programs and games for the church’s Neighborhood Picnic, as well as crafting novelties like the animated ice-skating flamingos they made to welcome their new pastor, who previously hailed from Florida. In addition, Barb assists with children’s worship, the church library, and church decorating, while Harry helps to oversee a local church plant and serves as an elder at Racine Christian Reformed Church.
The Kampengas delight in spending time with their family, which will expand to 15 grandchildren this fall, and with many close friends. They enjoy traveling together, and they predict more travels—particularly to Colorado, Florida, and Nevada, where three of their children now live. “We are thankful to experience God’s promises of faithfulness throughout the generations,” said Barb.