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Donald E. Boven

by Jeanne Baron

March 28, 2011 | WMU News

Donald E. Boven, a former faculty member and coach at Western Michigan University, died March 10 in Kalamazoo. He was 86.

Boven began his long career at WMU, his alma mater, in 1953 and retired in 1986 after 32-1/2 years of service to the University.

An associate professor of health, physical education and recreation, he served as head basketball coach from 1958 to 1966. Prior to that, he taught sports and physical education classes while also serving as an assistant coach for football, basketball and baseball. He was a full-time faculty member after stepping down from coaching.

Boven graduated from high school in 1943, then served in the U.S. Army until 1945 as a gunnery sergeant with the Third Army, arriving at Omaha Beach in the D-Day plus 2 invasion and later fighting in the Battle of the Bulge.

He returned to Kalamazoo after World War II and enrolled at WMU on the GI Bill, earning a bachelor's degree in education in 1949. He also earned a master's degree in education from the University in 1955.

While an undergraduate, Boven was a sports standout. He earned 11 varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball, and in 1949, was named a First Team All-American as well as selected to receive WMU's academic-athletic excellence honor medal.

Boven received offers to play professionally in all three of his sports. He chose basketball, and began with the fledgling NBA's Waterloo Hawks in Iowa. He went on to play for the Milwaukee Hawks, Baltimore Bullets and, finally, Fort Wayne Pistons, completing his playing career in 1953 after four years.

The Texas Township resident played semi-professional baseball during the summer for the Sutherland Paper Co. team from early in his WMU tenure to the late 1950s. Boven then worked during summers for the Kalamazoo Parks and Recreation Department as director of the city's summer playground program. Following retirement from WMU, he served as Texas Township clerk for 12 years.

Burial took place in Ft. Custer National Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Zion Lutheran Church Prayer Garden, Hospice of Southwest Michigan and Pretty Lake Vacation Camp.