Tuesday 30 November 2021

In Memoriam: Inès Cécile Naudin ten Cate-Seerveld

by Mary Vander Vennen

Late on the night of October 28, 2021, Inès Seerveld passed away in her sleep after a long struggle with dementia. God gave her a merciful ending, but her death for me marked the end of a friendship of nearly a lifetime. I’d like to tell you a bit about her.

Inès was born in the Netherlands in 1931 to a highly educated and cultured family. She was second in a family of three children, the only daughter between two brothers. Her mother was Swiss, her father Dutch. They valued education highly, and Inès benefited from a classical education weighted toward Greek and Latin. Inès spoke Swiss German, Dutch, German, French, and English fluently and had at least a speaking acquaintance with Italian and reading acquaintance with Spanish. Her professional education was in the field of social work, where she wrote a thesis on dealing in merciful justice with delinquent children. She graduated with the equivalent of a master’s degree in social work.

Because when she married Cal they moved to the United States and started a family, she never pursued work in that field in the U.S. However the principles and practice she was taught never left her. Inès was gentle, with a generous heart for the needy and displaced. She served as a volunteer at the Toronto Lighthouse Ministry teaching English to immigrants, later serving several years on its Board. She served as a deacon at the Willowdale Christian Reformed Church. She was a faithful, loving mother to Anya, Gioia, and Luke and a supportive wife to Cal. She and Cal served as hosts to a great variety of guests over the years. Many of Cal’s students remember the homemade muffins she sometimes sent along to his classes.

Inès had a rich inner life, very interested in history, geography, the world of animals. Her favorite TV station was the Nature Channel. She loved drama and theatre. For years, the four of us had season subscriptions to the Goodman Theatre in downtown Chicago. She was well acquainted with the world of art, not only appreciating it but substantially supporting artists and art projects. Some years ago Ruth Huber, Inès' mother, donated a substantial sum to the Institute for Christian Studies to establish the Ruth Memorial Fund, the interest to be used to sponsor art events at the ICS. Now with an additional legacy from Inès, the fund will be re-named in both their honor. 

At Trinity Christian College, Cal and Inès also set up the Seerveld Arts in Society (SAIS) fund in an effort to enrich the neighborhood and students. It was designed and carried out by Trinity faculty members, has since developed into the Seerveld Gallery, and has enabled projects like John Bakker's Roseland Portrait Project, which consists of 400 portraits of ordinary people mounted on boxes. This project has been exhibited in police headquarters, malls, and churches and has led to great public relations for Trinity. It will be exhibited in Texas later next year.

Inès endured her illness patiently and uncomplainingly. Cal cared for her faithfully and heroically, determined not to subject her to a long-term care facility. God granted his desire.

I first met Inès when she and Cal accepted a position to teach philosophy at Belhaven College and moved to Jackson, Mississippi in 1958. My husband Bob was already on the faculty there and encouraged Cal to come. Cal and Bob had a beautiful collegial relationship over decades at three different institutions. Our children and theirs are approximately the same age, and they still are in touch. Together, the four of us went through the various stages of family life and the joys and crises of small, struggling institutions. Now Cal and I have each lost a spouse. But the fact of our long relationship I consider to be one of the great blessings of my life. God has been utterly faithful through all these years.