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 [Emerson] 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, as well as dozens of Colin's friends, who cherished him deeply.


Colin birth announce pic 1982 Jim & Colin 1983

November 1982: Colin's birth announcement picture, with Laura, Jim & Kristin.

Spring 1983: Jim & Colin.

Jim & Colin 1984 Colin & Laura 1984

1984: Colin & Jim, hiking in a Utah canyon - probably Capitol Reef National Park.

1984: Colin & Laura at home in Salt Lake City.

Colin in snow Utah 1985 Colin Kindergarten Fall 88

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

Fall 1988: Kindergarten school picture, Frederick MD.

Colin LA Feb 90 Colin Aug 1990

February 1990: Los Angeles, at age 8.

August 1990: On the first of several vacations in Chincoteague, Virginia.

Colin 1991 First Grade Colin Brussels 1993

Fall 1991: School picture, 2nd grade, Middletown (MD) Elementary School.

Fall 1993: School picture at the International School of Brussels, Begium (age 10).

Jim & Colin Ashdown 1995 Ashdown Sports Day 1995

June 1995 (at 12): "Sports Day" at Colin's school, Ashdown House, East Sussex, UK.

Colin Easter 1997 rowing in Boston 1998

At 14, back in Bethesda (Easter 1997)

November 1998. After the move to Newburgh: rowing in the Boston harbor with the NFA (high school) crew team. (In an "erg" competition, Colin came in first nationwide for his age and weight.)


Colin 2000 2000 prom

Spring 2000: Colin at 17, at home in Balmville.

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

art class Alfred Colin on phone 2000

June 2000: Making a point in a summer art class at Alfred University.

August 2000: On the phone in the Balmville house.


Colin car 2003 2003 Colin at 21

April 2003: Colin, 20, with his fourth car, a Hyundai Tiburon.

November 2003: Colin on his 21st birthday, at a casino in Connecticut. (His choice — he was quite good at poker.)


kids at computer 2004(?) Jim, Colin on Jim's birthday 2005

2004: Colin showing Emma and Sanford how to download ring tones for their phones.

June 2005: Jim & Colin (22) at the Cracker Barrel restaurant (his choice) on Jim's 58th birthday.


Colin, Seattle, May 2006

May 2006: At 23, in Seattle for the funeral of my close friend Jack. (On this trip, Colin saw his mother Laura & half-sister Kristin for the first time in over 10 years. The kids enjoyed a night at the local pool hall.)


July 2007 - one of my favorite pictures of Colin (24), taken in the Foundry condo.


Colin golfing with fur hat c2000 Golfing in St Pete's, FL

2000s: Living next to a country club, the boys and I took up golf. Colin's fur hat did not conform to club fashion rules.

Dec 2008: Working in Tampa on my first solo Accenture gig, I brought Colin down for the Xmas holidays, where we played golf in St. Petersburg. He beat me solidly, as usual.

Colin dressed up 2009 Colin on 27th birthday, 2009

Sept 2009: Dressed up for a party at the Foundry condo. (Actually, this was his engagement party, but that didn't work out in the end.)

Nov 2009: 27th birthday.

Colin 29th birthday, 2011 August 2012

Nov 2011: 29th birthday.

Sadly, Colin's face shows signs of his increasing drug abuse.

August 2012 (outside police headquarters).

Colin April 2013 Colin's urn March 2014

April 2013: Colin, at 30. He was working at Lowe's hardware after a (temporarily) succesful stay at St. Christopher's rehab facility in Garrison, NY.

March 15, 2014: Colin died at the age of 31. Sanford made the urn for his ashes (now in St. George's Episcopal).