Bigelow & Hoekje Memories
At the end of this academic year, Bigelow and Hoekje Halls will close their doors to students for good, to make way for newer and more efficient student housing. We asked you to share your memories of life at Hoekje and Bigelow. Read through the stories below and then follow the link at the bottom to share your own story.
MyWMU— SHARE YOUR STORY OR MEMORY
In September 1978, I moved into the all-girls dorm, Hoekje. One Saturday evening in September I went to a Progressive Party (every room serves a different drink) in the all-boys dorm, Bigelow. There, I met my future husband. We have been together 35 years! We have wonderful memories of both dorms; stero speakers on the window ledge blasting out music on a nice day, sneaking in and out of each other dorm and Domino pizza deliveries.
As a resident advisor at Hoekje(1984-85), I was able to meet many international students and learn about many different cultures. This experience lead me to the Peace Corps and then to other journeys around the world. Thank you WMU and Hoekje.
- Betty Bailey (Hindermeyer)
During the 1959 dedication of Hoekje Hall Dr. William Brown commented that, “If the young men who live year after year in Hoekje Hall are made to realize the value of hard work, of faithfulness to the task at hand, of vision and courage in undertaking, and if through their residence here they acquire a deep appreciation of Western Michigan University and what it stands for, then the spirit of the man for whom it is named will carry on and this building will be a true memorial to John C. Hoekje.” I was fortunate to live in Hoekje Hall during the period 1962-1966 and I can honestly say it was a wonderful place for a student to live and study. Life is an accumulation of memories and my days as a student at Western Michigan are positive and extraordinary. The campus and student body then was very close and we were segregated by sexes in our residence halls which was appropriate. We all had our space and privacy which was normal at the time. The living arrangements we followed allowed for more formal interactions between students in the dormitories. I can honestly say that while at Western I was made to realize the value of hard work and a deep appreciation of WMU and what it stands for. I will be forever indebted by that experience.
I was a resident of Hoekje from 1960 to 1963 where I made many new and lasting friendships. Upon graduation in 1964 I became employed with the US Govt. I retired in 1991 after 27 years and now own a commercial floor maintenance business.
When I arrived on Western's campus as a green and apprehensive freshman in the fall of 1961, it was a surprise to learn that my living quarters were not quite complete. We lived in a construction zone for the first couple of months. The stories I could tell would fill a book...the roommate, the suite mates, working in the cafeteria, learning all about communal living in a very short time. My freshman roommate, George Ihler, continues to be a life long friend. Oddly, another freshman on our floor was named George Iler. Having earned a Bachelor's and a Master's from Western and working in the International Services Office for awhile, I can say that positive memories of WMU are always with me. Oh, and don't forget the Wayside just down the street!
I spent two wonderful years in Hoekje Hall. The first was when the Geology department was still in the building, and the second was after they moved out and the offices were remodeled to be beautiful dorm rooms with brand-new furniture. I was involved in Hall Council and Bronco Buddies there, both of which were valuable experiences. My first roommate in Hoekje was from the Netherlands and loved that the name of the building was Dutch. Plus she's the one who introduced me to my husband, so I have countless fond memories of my time in Hoekje Hall.
Bigelow Hall was a place in 1980, where I first met some of my great friends, we would buy Dominos pizza and watch reruns of Mash. I worked at the front desk, this is where I got my Pizza money from. If it weren't for Bigelow Hall, I probably wouldn't received my Bachelor Degree at WMU, in 1984. I lived at Bigelow for one Great year.
- Michael Dungey
I lived on 4A at Hoekje my freshman year. I remember getting woke up at 2:30AM by the fire alarm and evacuating to see flames coming out of 1B. I also returned my junior and senior years to work in the director's office as an Office Manager. Good times!
WOW, I sure hate to see Hoekje Hall go. Hoekje was first dorm that I lived in at Western Michigan. I met some of my best friends to this day living there. I remember living on fourth floor and then moving down to the second floor with one of my best friends. It will be sad coming back for Homecoming and it no longer will stand. Thanks Hoekje Hall for a great freshman year memory.
-Fallon Hudson (BS '07)
I lived in Bigelow for 3 years, and loved every minute. The ups and downs, the roommates and friends down the hall, everything about it will stay with me.
-Kristin Campbell (BS '03)
I lived in Bigelow for my first two years at WMU and will forever remember my room (room 121). It was in that room that I got the idea of bring back a chapter of Alpha Phi Omega Co-Ed Service Fraternity back to campus in 1992. It was in that room I found the courage to put my name on a WSA ballot and became WSA President in '94. But most importantly, it was in Bigelow Hall that I met and fell in love with my wonderful wife Niki Worthams (then Nielsen) who lived on the second floor and tolerated the music that we played at a volume loud enough to move her furniture. I had hoped that my children would get the opportunity to (literally) follow in our footsteps in live in Bigelow ... but time requires all things to move on so that our University can continue to be a place where people find their voices and bright future. Thanks for the memories, Bigelow Hall. You will be missed and cherished for a long long time to come.
- Dave Worthams (BS '98)
I lived in Hoekje hall in 1973-74. It was a wonderful living experience--including our hallway's pet duck. I was fortunate to have a great roommate, and hallmates. It wasn't the lap of luxury, but we sure had fun!
I spent one semester living in Hoekje Hall, the winter of 1976. I met so many wonderful people in those few short months. I still am in contact with a couple of those friends I made so many years ago. I hate to see Hoekje close the doors to students. Thanks for the memories!!
As an International student back in 1989, Hoekje Hall was my very first place of residence in the U.S. and was one of the places that defined the WMU campus for me even before my arrival to Kalamazoo (I knew I would stay there), and also after I left in April of 1990 having received a Master's degree. I was glad to see the place again in 2010 when I returned to visit a retired friend in the area.
The water fight during the 1970-1971 school year, about two weeks from the end of the winter semester. It began on 4th floor with someone throwing a cup of water at someone else, and escalated to the point that water (with soap suds) was cascading down all three stairwells to the first floor landings. The largest puddle of water formed a "pond" in the lobby in front of the Dorm Director's (the Kuceras) apartment. A lot of guys went on report to the University. It was a necessary distraction from studying. Exam week went much better after everyone's pent-up anxieties were relieved.
- Dale Stultz (Dale lived in both Hoekje and Bigelow Halls, and although he believes the fight occurred in Bigelow, he can't be sure. Anyone who remembers this water fight, please tell us what you remember by filling out the form).
Joanne O'Connell (BBA '79) was a Resident Advisor (now known as a Resident Assistant) and then an Assistant Direcort for three years in Hoekje, Bigelow and Henry Halls. She had many memories to share, from the 'dorms' going co-ed to a snowstorm that shut down campus for 4 days:
"I always had a room with a balcony on the corner of the buildings and had a lot of people that visited me so they could sit on the balcony. A lot of pranks were pulled in the spring semester when Bigelow went coed! Henry Hall was all singles for graduate students, so it was a little quieter for a year. I was in Henry Hall when we had a snowstorm that closed the campus down for 4 days. Finally, one of the frats had a movie night in Sangren hall after the 3rd day, and we all crawled across the snow banks to get out of the dorm to see a movie. I was in Hoekje when there was a fire in the building next door, and we had to evacuate the dorm. It was interesting to see just about as many guys coming out of the dorm as women —in a women's dorm! The dorms were some of my most valued memories! I realize time moves on, and it will be good to get some updated housing on campus, but it is sad to see the old things go away also!"
Jeffrey Johnson (BBA '76, Accountancy) stayed in Bigelow Hall for 3 of his 4 years on campus, from 1972 through April 1975. That was when the legal drinking age was 18 and beer bashes could be thrown on campus:
"One semester was on the ground floor in B wing. The rest was on the third level A wing with a great view over the valley. We had great times there as most do. However, the thing that stands out for me was during my third year at Bigelow. My roommate and I were both on house council, he was president and I was the social vp. It was a period of time where the drinking age was 18 and everyone on campus was allowed to drink alcohol. We organized buses as shuttles to take students several times to/from Coral Gables to keep them from driving drunk. But the largest event was putting on a party for the four dorms in the quad. We had well over 1,000 in attendance in the cafeteria. We had a band and 24 full barrels of Busch beer, fully consumed. It was our goal to have a huge beer bash without any injuries or damage. We had several of us use personal efforts in that regard. I even stopped someone who wanted to use the band's instruments while on break. We were successful. In the end our house council was charged $6.00 for two broken floor tiles at the threshold into the cafeteria. We were so anal about it that my roommate and I went to argue over the $6.00, stating those were floor tiles ready to break given the thousands who step on them every day. We lost that argument but did indeed demonstrate that a party can go on without mayhem. You just need planning and commitment by those in leadership roles."
"Wow, good old Hoekje Hall, was my first living place in college!! It was full of great times and where I met a host of amazing people!! Sad to see you go but I'll always have the memories,"
"Sad to hear about Hoekje Hall. I lived there and was a assistant Director for Ted and Jean Marvin. I graduated in '66 BSIE and '67 MBA. Good memories of the old dorm!!"
-John Hoch (BA '66, Industrial Engineering; MBA '67)
Laurie Kattuah-Snyder (BS '85, Communication) was also a student worker in the halls, and shared her experience of the added bonus of diverse cultures:
"I used to be an assistant director in Hoekje hall. Back then it was the international hall and didn't provide food service. I used to do rounds everyday & would smell so many wonderful & unique food smells due to the kitchen placed in the middle of the hall. I then purposefully planned my rounds during dinner time & would be offered delicious samples of different meals. From sushi to hummus, I could eat dinner with samples from every floor!"
"40+ years ago: I found myself and the best friends of my life on the second floor of Bigelow Hall. Time and life proved that we achieved all and more we hoped to do. Thank You WMU!" Jack Klarr (BA '75, History)
SHARE YOUR STORY HERE
"Never lived there. Freshman year I was friends with everyone on 4th floor. I spent so much time there that I surprised people when I had to sign in. Also, Junior year watching the Double OT game against Denver in the NCAA Tournament was unforgettable." Nathan Wira (BS '12, Geography)