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Former WMU Men's Hoops Coach Don Boven Passes Away at Age 86

Former WMU Men's Hoops Coach Don Boven Passes Away at Age 86

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Don Boven, Western Michigan's men's basketball coach from 1958-66, passed away on Thursday, March 10 at Bronson Medical Hospital four days after his 86th birthday.  Boven coached WMU from 1958-66, compiling a 75-112 overall record and 36-60 mark in the early years of the Mid-American Conference.

Don Boven Obituary:
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He was born March 6, 1925 in Kalamazoo, the second son of Thomas Boven and Jessie Knapper. Raised on the north side, Don attended Lincoln Jr. High and Kalamazoo Central High, graduating in 1943. He then served in the US Army from 1943-45 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 the war and entered Western Michigan University on the GI Bill, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Education in 1949. Boven was a sports standout while at Western, earning 11 varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball, as well as receiving both the WMU academic-athletic excellence honor medal and All American First Team distinction in 1949.

During this time Don met his future wife, Charlotte Kniese of Flint. After college Don 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 then went on to play for the Milwaukee Hawks, Baltimore Bullets, and finally Fort Wayne Pistons, completing his career in 1953 after four years. In 1953 Don also married Charlotte and began a long career as teacher and coach at his alma mater, WMU.

Don taught Sports and Physical Education classes while also serving as assistant coach for the football, basketball and baseball teams, later becoming head basketball coach from 1958-66. During this early time he earned his master's degree in Education from WMU and played semi-professional baseball during summer for the Sutherland Paper Company team until the late 1950's. After Sutherland, Don worked during summers for the Kalamazoo Parks & Recreation Dept. as director of the city's summer playground program. Don retired from WMU in 1985 after 32 years.

Don and Char raised three children and followed his dream of living on a lake, residing at Pretty Lake for 39 years. After retiring from WMU, he served as Texas Township Clerk for 12 years. Don loved following sports (especially "his" Broncos and Tigers), playing golf, wintering with Char in Florida, fishing, sailing, nature watching, gardening, and simply being with friends and family.

Don was a humble, thoughtful person, who loved people very much, had an abiding faith in God, and was a longtime member of Zion Lutheran Church, where he also served as youth basketball coach during the 70's.

Preceding Don in death is his wife of 57 years, Char, on June 13, 2010; his parents; and two brothers, Thomas Jr. and Roger Boven. Surviving are his children, Barbara (Bill) Foley of Grandville, Scott (Diana) Boven of Charlottesville, VA, and Mary (Ken) Weber of Ann Arbor; six grandchildren, Mark, Scott, and Denise Foley, and Bill, Mike, and Brian Weber; his brother Bob (Evelyn) Boven; and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be at 11:00 AM on Tuesday at Zion Lutheran Church, 2122 Bronson Blvd., where friends may visit with the family from 10:00 AM until the time of services. You may also visit with the family at Langeland Family Funeral Home, Westside Chapel, 3926 S. 9th Street, on Sunday from 2-4 PM, and Monday from 6-8 PM. Private family burial will be at Ft. Custer National Cemetery.

Memorial contributions can be made to Zion Lutheran Church Prayer Garden, Hospice of SW Michigan and Pretty Lake Vacation Camp. Please visit to sign, view, or print Don's online guestbook or leave a condolence to the family.

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