COOPERSTOWN – Ralph James Veenema, M.D., former chief of urologic oncology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, passed away Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, at Covenant Village, Cromwell, Conn. He was 97.
Dr. Veenema and his wife retired to Cooperstown in 1997.
Born Dec. 13, 1921, in Prospect Park, N.J., he was the son of Ralph and Sadie (Van Dyke) Veenema. He had three brothers and a sister.
In 1942, he received a B.A. degree from Calvin College in Michigan. It was while he was attending college that he met his wife, Henriette (Henis) E. Van der Molen. They were married Sept. 19, 1944, in Grand Rapids, Mich.
In 1945, Dr. Veenema received his MD from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, and served his internship at Paterson General Hospital in Paterson, N.J. In 1946, he was commissioned a captain in the Army Medical Corps and served his country at Army hospitals in Alexandria, La., and Jackson, Miss.
After receiving his honorable discharge in 1948, he joined the staff at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, where he received urological and surgical training. At the time of his retirement in 1987, he was urology surgical attending at Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and was professor emeritus of urology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Ralph and Henis retired to their farm in Deposit, from their home of 35 years in Glen Rock, N.J. ShiRaLoKen Farm was well known for its high-quality Angus breeding stock, both in New York State and by the American Angus Association. The Veenemas won several awards for their farming practices, and in 1992 the farm was awarded the American Angus Association Land Stewardship Award for the Eastern Region of the United States. During their years on the farm, Dr. Veenema served as an adviser in the Cornell University School of Agriculture & Animal Science.
In 1997, Ralph and Henis retired from farming and moved full-time to Cooperstown. They became active members of the First Presbyterian Church of Cooperstown, where Ralph served as an elder. They were also ardent supporters of Friends of Bassett Hospital, as well as the village’s museums and parks, most especially the New York State Historical Association and the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
In May 2006, Ralph suffered the loss of his beloved wife, Henis, but continued to be an active supporter of Otsego Manor, especially with their weekly chapel services.
Dr. Veenema is survived by two daughters and sons-in-law, Shirley Ann and Jim Sheldon of Boston, and Lois Ruth and Bill Byrne of Traverse City, Mich.; two sons and daughters-in-law, Ralph J. Veenema Jr. and Janet of Rocky Hill, Conn. and Kenneth R. Veenema, MD and Tener of Baltimore, Md.; 13 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; one brother, Melvin Veenema, of Grand Rapids, MI; and nieces and nephews.
A private committal service will be held for family members in Cooperstown.
A Service of Witness to the Resurrection and Celebration of the Life of Ralph J. Veenema will be offered at a date in April 2019, in the sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church of Cooperstown, with the Rev. Elsie Armstrong Rhodes, pastor, officiating.
Arrangements are under the care and guidance of the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home in Cooperstown.