In Memoriam: Hudson “Huds” Nyenhuis

May 01, 2020

It is with deep sadness that Bethany Christian Services announces the passing of Hudson “Huds” Nyenhuis, executive director of Bethany from 1954 to 1985.

Nyenhuis worked alongside Bethany founders Mary (DeBoer) VandenBosch, Marguerite Bonnema, and Andrew VanderVeer, laying the foundation for a nonprofit that would impact children and families across the United States and around the world.

Under Nyenhuis’s direction, Bethany expanded from a 14-room house on Eastern Avenue to an accredited child welfare agency providing adoption, foster care, and pregnancy counseling services across several states.

“Huds was a visionary,” said Chris Palusky, current Bethany President & CEO. “As Bethany expanded and changed, he always kept the mission of bringing children and families together front and center.”

Throughout his career with Bethany, Nyenhuis also implemented new services, including the unaccompanied refugee minor program in 1975 and international adoption in 1982.

“Huds was a tenacious person in getting something done or accomplishing a goal,” said Jim Haveman, Bethany’s executive director from 1986 to 1990. “He had a lot of energy, and he was not afraid of blazing new trails.”

During his tenure as executive director, Nyenhuis was a leader in the local community and worked alongside churches and other organizations dedicated to caring for vulnerable children and families. He was also instrumental in securing government contracts to expand Bethany’s services.

“He was a man who respected other people, he treated other people fairly and justly,” said Bill Blacquiere, Bethany’s president & CEO from 2005-2017.

Today, Bethany impacts hundreds of thousands of people each year and has a presence in more than 30 states and around the world. This legacy was made possible through the tireless work of Nyenhuis.

“Huds was beloved,” said Glenn DeMotts, Bethany’s executive director & CEO from 1990 to 2005. “He provided a springboard for what Bethany has become and is becoming,”

To view a video memorial of Huds Nyenhuis’ tenure at Bethany, click here.


About Bethany Bethany is a global nonprofit that supports children and families with world-class social services, all designed to help families thrive. Over 75 years ago, we began our work by serving a single child. Today, we work in more than 30 states and around the world, impacting hundreds of thousands of people every year.