Don Van Rossen Memorial Service

Session Date: 
Monday, July 14, 2014


Van Rossen 1979
Donald P. Van Rossen, August 19, 1929 ~ June 27, 2014

Prelude ~ Lonnie Smith & Diane Stevens
Welcome ~ Pastor Paul A. Jackson
Scripture ~ Romans 11:33-12:2
Congregational Singing ~ How Great Thou Art
Sharing Memories
Special Music ~ "Crossing the Bar," Stan Timperley

Contributions in Coach Van Rossen’s name may be given to the Memorial Scholarship Fund of Glenwood Community Church.

The family invites you to view, sign, and share your remembrances at the following online guest books:

Oregonian (
Eugene Register-Guard (

Dr. Donald P. Van Rossen, age 84, died peacefully on Friday, June 27, 2014, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. 

Coach Van Rossen was born on the South Side of Chicago on August 19, 1929, to Grace Heitmeyer and Pete Van Rossen.  Don often reflected about swimming in Lake Calumet as a youth and how that led to his great love of aquatics.  After graduating from Chicago Vocational School, he joined the Navy and was stationed in Bremerton, Washington, where he met and married Mary Dorothy Britton.

They returned to the Midwest after Don was discharged honorably from the Navy. He enrolled in the University of Illinois, where he graduated with a Masters of Education degree.  They spent the next eight years in Illinois with family, having three sons, and attending school. During this time Coach Van Rossen was also the assistant swim team coach for the University of Illinois.

In 1958 the University of Oregon recruited Coach Van Rossen to be its head men’s swimming coach.  He arrived with his family that fall and immediately went to work recruiting swimmers. He signed athletes from all over the United States and from around the world. He continued as head coach until 1978.

By the early 1960s many of the University of Oregon swimmers and divers were selected for All-Conference and All-American honors.  The University of Oregon finished second at the 1965 Pac-8 Swimming Championships.  They were runner-up to the University of Southern California and ahead of the well-known powerhouse programs at University of California, Los Angeles, and Stanford University.  The team captured ninth place at the NCAA National Swimming Championship and cemented the foundation for the future success of the University of Oregon swimming program.  Coach Van Rossen’s swimmers competed on the national, international, and Olympic levels.

Coach Van Rossen completed his Ph.D. in Sports Psychology from the University of Illinois and became a tenured professor at the University of Oregon.  He may be best remembered by his students who were required to rescue him in order to pass their life saving class or to jump off of the three-meter diving board to pass beginning swimming.

Coach Van Rossen continued teaching at the University of Oregon until his retirement in 1987. He served as chairman of the NCAA Rules Committee for swimming and diving and was responsible for organizing and judging at the NCAA Championship swimming meets. He was also responsible for aquatic facilities compliance at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and always found time to put on summer age-group swimming camps.

In his retirement Coach Van Rossen continued his own competitive swimming setting several masters world records. He participated in the United States Power Boat Squadron and enjoyed cruising on his Grand Banks including a trip up the inside passage from Puget Sound to Juneau, Alaska. He was responsible for developing and implementing programs on Oregon marine and boating safety. He published several books on swimming and developed and taught the national program for certifying swimming pool operators. He was inducted into the University of Oregon Hall of Fame in 2012.

Coach Van Rossen continued swimming and coaching masters swimming until a few years ago.  He was a significant promoter of the sport of swimming and aquatics, not only for the University of Oregon, but also for the state of Oregon, the nation, and the world.  He was a father to many swimmers and opened his home and family to anyone who loved aquatic activities. 

He was preceded in death by his second wife, Virginia, is survived by his first wife, Dotty, and current wife, Janice; sisters, Jean Sluis and Nellie Tarulis; three sons, Pete (Janice), Daniel and Charlie (Marilyn); four step-sons, Brett Arvridson, Brad Arvridson, Gary Crandall and Ronald Crandall; and by eight grandchildren. More importantly, he is survived by thousands who knew him as Coach Vanner, as professor, as mentor, and as friend. He will be loved and remembered by all.