Hope Bids Farewell to Beloved Professor


(Hope College)

On Saturday, Nov. 11, at the age of 64, William “Billy” Mayer, a professor of art and art history at Hope College, died unexpectedly in his home. The Hope community invites all to a memorial service on Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 4:30 p.m. in the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts. Billy joined the Hope faculty in 1978 after completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota and his Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania.

Billy left behind a strong legacy at Hope in the many students he taught and influenced, the creation of the Kruizenga Art Museum, the growth of the ceramics program he oversaw and the sculptures of “Sun Dog” and “Midwinter Horn” that still stand on campus. He served as the department chair from 1987 to 2004. Known for pushing his students outside out of the barriers of the DePree Art Center, he annually displayed the artwork of his Basic Sculpture students in the outdoor venues such as the Pine Grove and the Nyenhuis Sculpture Garden. His influences will be long remembered throughout campus.

Billy was also an avid amateur musician and motorcycle enthusiast. He collected guitars, tube amplifiers and toy motorcycles as well owning a Buell and a Harley. He was a dedicated cross country skier and kayaker. His wife, Michel Conroy, is a professor of ceramics at the School of Art and Design at Texas State University. The couple led a May term of Hope students to Japan in 2002. His life will continue on in those he inspired within the Hope community and outside of it.

“This is a heartbreaking loss for Hope College and for the many people who called Billy a friend, colleague and mentor,” President Voskuil said. “Billy leaves a tremendous legacy, in his students, many of whom went on to become practicing artists, and on Hope’s campus.” He is survived by his wife and his four sisters, Connie Boyers, Janet Dolan, Claire Olander and Mary Pat Hogeboom, along with his six nieces and six nephews. For members of the campus community in mourning, resources are available through campus ministries, counseling center (CAPS) and resident life staff.

Sophia Vander Kooy ('20) is a political science and international studies major with an unofficial passion for taking creative writing classes. She was the Production Manager at the Anchor during the spring semester of 2020, and previously served as the Editor-in-Chief. She is also a member of the Women's Track and Cross Country teams at Hope, the STEP Community Outreach Student Director and the Co-President of Hope Yoga. Sophia loves writing, being outside, cooking, running and connecting with all kinds of people. She has found the space to be herself at The Anchor and knows that she is not alone in that.

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