A message from principal Bill Jackson in relation to Maranatha’s first principal Mr Bob Van Veen.

Maranatha’s first principal Mr Bob Van Veen

Last Wednesday I attended the funeral of Bob Van Veen who was the founding principal of Maranatha Christian School in 1970. He was farewelled by his wife Connie, four children, 12 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. Before migrating to Australia Bob was part of the Dutch Olympic swimming team. Unfortunately, the Netherlands withdrew from the 1956 Melbourne games after the Soviet Union invaded Hungary and he was not able to compete. Bob came to Australia where he met his wife Connie, trained to be a teacher and gave his life to Jesus at a Billy Graham Crusade. At one stage Bob lived across the road from the Geelong football ground. He developed a love for the game and the club. Bob used to go to games at three-quarter time when the gates were opened and entry was free.

I have spoken to past Marantha students, staff and parents who have fond memories of Bob during his eleven years at Maranatha. He started with the dual role of Headmaster and teacher (Grade 4, 5 and 6) in 1970. Back then the school had 92 students and two other teachers. Bob used a long extension lead from his office that enabled him to answer the phone and keep an eye on his class at the same time. He had an incredible passion for Christian education and the discipleship of young people. Bob is remembered as a man of kindness, faithfulness and humility. He had a great love for music which he used effectively to build school spirit and passed on to his family.

Bob also served as principal of three other Christian Schools across three different states. This included being the founding principal of Genesis Christian College (Queensland) in 1991. Bob was busy during his retirement years with church, prison ministry and translating key Christian Education writings from Dutch to English.

People like Bob were part of an incredible movement that helped established Christian schools across the country. It is amazing to think what Dutch migrants were able to achieve through persistence, sacrifice, hard work and prayer. We are very fortunate to be the beneficiaries of the foundation they laid. Back in 2020 I spoke to Bob before our 50th Anniversary Dedication Service. I asked him if Christian Schools were still as important today. Bob commented that society was more placid when the school opened. He said Christian schools are even more important today because society is no longer that way and children need guidelines for life.

We will be remembering Bob as part of our annual Pioneer’s Service on Thursday 7th March at 12.00pm. The special service will be held under our new Outdoor Court Dome with Prep to Year 12 students from both campuses coming together. Past and current members of our school community are welcome to attend.

In Christ,

Bill Jackson




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