Louis “Lou” Voskuil, 1934-2016
Dr. Lou Voskuil, beloved retired professor of history at Covenant College, died on December 24, 2016.
Voskuil served in education for a total of 41 years, taught history, and led the faculty of Covenant College. He received the first-ever and rarely-bestowed John W. Sanderson Award for Christian Scholarship during his time at Covenant. Voskuil earned his BA degree from Calvin College and an MDiv from Westminster Theological Seminary. He completed a master’s degree at Loyola University in Chicago, where he also earned his PhD in European history.
After teaching history at Trinity Christian College (Ill.) for more than a decade, Voskuil joined the faculty at Covenant College in 1972. Upon his arrival, he was tasked with developing “a curriculum that was responsible historically.” At the time, Voskuil and Dr. Kenneth Austin comprised the entire history department at Covenant. Voskuil was a member of the Conference on Faith and History, the Tennessee Political Science Association, and the International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education. He retired in 2001 after serving the College for 29 faithful years, teaching and mentoring hundreds of students. Upon his retirement, Voskuil pointed to the hiring of Drs. Morton and Green as his greatest accomplishments.
As a dedicated, long-time member of St. Elmo Presbyterian Church (SEPC) in Chattanooga, TN, Voskuil faithfully served the church and the surrounding community alongside his wife, Audrey, in ways too numerous to count. In more recent years, they together launched a ministry at SEPC to homeless families in cooperation with an organization called Family Promise. They also reached out quietly and personally to many of their struggling Chattanooga neighbors, and, by their example, inspired countless others to do the same.
“Lou Voskuil had a profound impact on Covenant College—on his colleagues and students alike,” said President Derek Halvorson. “He was a model for many of the gentlemanly Christian scholar, a man who brought deep biblical insight to his work as a historian and careful dedication to his craft as a teacher. Despite his gentle and unassuming nature—which contributed to him earning the moniker ‘Sweet Lou’—his impact is still felt across the campus: in curricular initiatives he helped to shape, in a culture of teaching excellence he helped to form, and in numerous faculty who have taken inspiration from his life and work.
“Many of us who were his students would attest to the manner in which he exemplified for us the best sort of intellectually-engaged Christian life. He loved Jesus Christ, he loved the Church, he loved his family, he served the poor, and he brought rich, biblically-grounded thinking to bear on his discipline and on the problems our world faces. We are a much poorer community without him.”
Voskuil is survived by Audrey, his wife of more than 60 years, and their four children: Timothy Lou, Lynn Marie, Susan Jean, and Lisa.
A memorial service will be held in the Covenant College chapel at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 28. The family will receive mourners before the service, beginning at 1:00 p.m. For those unable to attend in person, the memorial service will be available via live stream at covenant.edu/stream.
The family has noted that donations in Dr. Voskuil’s name may be made to St. Elmo Presbyterian Church or to the student scholarship fund at Covenant College.